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‘Eyesore,’ ‘charming’: Residents have differing views of planned Windansea gazebo replacement

Two belvederes are seen on the ocean side of Scripps Park in La Jolla. A similar structure is planned for Neptune Place.
Two belvederes are seen on the ocean side of Scripps Park in La Jolla. A similar structure is planned for Neptune Place near Rosemont Street.
(File)

Proposed Neptune Place belvedere may go before the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee in February.

Though it wasn’t on the agenda, and hasn’t been on the agenda for seven months, a handful of residents spoke out about a planned gazebo replacement project at Windansea during the Jan. 25 La Jolla Parks & Beaches meeting online.

Friends of Windansea is spearheading and funding the project, which got LJP&B approval in June. Proposed improvements include better path delineation, repairs to the stairs and post-and-chain barriers, and construction of the gazebo (also known as a belvedere) on Neptune Place near Rosemont Street.

The gazebo would be similar to the ones that line the coast up to the Children’s Pool, according to Friends of Windansea member and landscape architect Jim Neri, who said the structures are “part of La Jolla’s charm.”

It would be just over 9 feet tall and built slightly downslope to reduce visual impact.

For more than 100 years, La Jolla has had unique trademarks along its coastline: sheltered belvederes that dot Coast Boulevard.

But not all nearby residents are convinced.

Jim Best, a property owner here the past 10 years, said during public comments at the meeting that “this area does not need any more attractions for any purpose. The project would only lead to congestion on Neptune Place and … will add to traffic.”

He argued that “many would exploit it for illegal activities” and it would be an “eyesore.”

Resident Kate Woods said she opposes the gazebo because the area draws “late-night visitors who do unpleasant activities and abuse our beach area with trash, loud voices, intoxication, sleeping on the benches and more” and that the gazebo “would only give shelter” to them.

However, she said she supports the parts of the project to fix the stairs and improve fencing.

LJP&B member Ann Dynes, who lives across from another gazebo about a mile up the coast, said: “We haven’t had those kinds of problems. I’m not advocating one way or the other, but it’s surprising to me that Windansea Beach would have problems we don’t have here.”

Resident Gail Schack said: “In this hustle and bustle world, with construction everywhere we look … we have been encouraged and reminded to find places of restoration and peace, as it is nature that promotes healing. Windansea Beach is one of these places; in it’s a natural state. That’s why I oppose construction in this natural setting. Why would we want to destroy a beautiful and natural vista? Let’s leave it in its pristine condition.”

A previous belvedere at the site is believed to have been removed by a nearby resident. An article in the La Jolla Light on Oct. 7, 1982, reported it as “an act of vandalism.”

“Police said it appeared that chains attached to a vehicle were used to haul down the public structure,” the article stated. “The shack was popular with beach visitors who could sit inside and enjoy the scenic views. However, some nearby residents say the shack was a nuisance and was troublesome for the neighborhood.”

The article stated that lifeguards said there were plans for replacement, subject to funding availability.

Valerie Armstrong argued for the project at the LJP&B meeting, saying: “This is not a new project; it should be standing there today. It was torn down nefariously by vandals and it was to be rebuilt, but the city does not have the money.”

She called the belvederes “charming and beautiful.”

A pad on Neptune Place near Rosemont Street is pictured where a belvedere is believed to have been removed by a resident.
A pad on Neptune Place near Rosemont Street is pictured in 2018 where a belvedere is believed to have been removed by a nearby resident in 1982.
(File)

FOW member and LJP&B trustee Melinda Merryweather, who advocated for the project and provides updates when available, said: “We are doing nothing but replacing a historic belvedere, which I believe are the fabric of our beaches at La Jolla. When this was vandalized, the city said it would replace it when it has the funds, so we have raised the money to replace the belvedere.”

“My mother lived there and ... would sit in the shade and look out on the coast that she loved,” Merryweather added. “I don’t think it’s this horrible place that the descriptions given here have made it seem. We have other belvederes in La Jolla and nothing happens in them. This was approved months ago, and I’m sorry that people are late on this, but this is something we are doing for the betterment of the community.”

Although it is considered a “valuable support” system to the city of San Diego, the La Jolla Parks & Beaches committee is not, it turns out, a recognized advisory group to the city.

Neri told the Light after the meeting that the project has been submitted to the city of San Diego for what is known as coastal review and is in the public noticing phase.

He said he expects the first round of comments from the city “any day now,” after which Neri will present to the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee for approval to proceed. He said he hopes to do that at the committee’s Feb. 9 or Feb. 16 meeting.

Agendas for those meetings will be posted 72 hours in advance at lajollacpa.org. ◆