La Jolla Recreation Center inches toward reopening, Cuvier Street vacation and temporary bocce court

Members of the La Jolla Community Recreation Group discuss plans for the Recreation Center on March 24.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

With San Diego County in the red tier of the state’s coronavirus reopening system, those who oversee the La Jolla Recreation Center are taking steps to prepare for its reopening, possibly before summer.

No opening date is set, but “our entire department is having weekly meetings to discuss … how to open up recreation centers, how to have social distancing markers, how to have entry points and exit points,” San Diego Parks & Recreation Department area manager Rosalia Castruita told the La Jolla Community Recreation Group, the Rec Center’s advisory board, at its March 24 meeting.

Castruita said opening the Rec Center “will hopefully happen before the beginning of the summer.”

In the meantime, the center is offering events such as a contactless visit with the “spring bunny” from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 27. Participants will be able to pick up a goody bag and wave at or take a selfie with the bunny from a social distance, according to Recreation Center Director Jesse DeLille.

He said prefilled eggs will be scattered on the Rec Center lawn for children to pick up.

DeLille said he hopes to be able to offer outside programs in May, “with certain health and safety protocols.” He said the center will offer its sports fundamentals class and peewee sports class, along with continuing virtual programming such as a weekly art class.

“We’re thinking we’ll be able to pull off three classes a week” at first, he said — one virtual and two outdoors.

Proposed vacation of Cuvier Street

The La Jolla Community Recreation Group's Visioning Committee has applied for the vacation of part of Cuvier Street.
The La Jolla Community Recreation Group’s Visioning Committee has applied for the vacation of part of Cuvier Street, which would provide more land for the planned revamp of the Recreation Center.

The Visioning Committee of the Community Recreation Group is moving forward on its plans to refurbish the Rec Center, officially applying for and notifying the neighborhood about its proposal to vacate the small portion of Cuvier Street between Prospect Street and The Bishop’s School to give the Rec Center more land to work with.

The renovation plans, which would update the building and redesign the grounds, have been given conceptual approval by all La Jolla planning groups and advisory boards.

“I’ve been extremely focused on the Cuvier vacation in order to understand what real estate we have to develop into the future,” said Visioning Committee member, architect and urbanist Trace Wilson.

Bringing the Cuvier land “into the Rec Center keeps us moving forward to get more green space in La Jolla. I’m really thrilled,” he said.

The application to the city Development Services Department also comes with a lot line adjustment, Wilson said.

“When streets are vacated, they are typically divided down the center line of the street,” he said. “In our master planning efforts for the Rec Center, we recognized that doing this would not net a very usable piece of land” for either the Rec Center or The Bishop’s School.

Wilson said the lot line adjustment proposes “carving the land in an east-west fashion,” giving the Rec Center the portion adjacent to Prospect Street and Bishop’s the “southerly piece of land which connects to their campus.”

He said the application was done in partnership with Bishop’s, which has supported the committee’s plans for the Rec Center revamp thus far.

The city posted the notice of application for the Cuvier vacation March 19 and notified all property owners within 300 feet, along with placing signs, Wilson said.

The matter will be considered at as-yet-unscheduled public hearings.

“We have a long way to go,” Wilson said, “but we’re doing the right thing.”

Bocce court progress

Castruita said plans for a temporary bocce court on the Rec Center grounds are “in the process.”

The bocce court, in the works since 2017, has been awaiting approval of a right-of-entry permit to allow non-city employees to build the court, which is planned along the Draper Avenue sidewalk.

Castruita said the blueprints for the court have been reviewed by the city Planning Department, which deemed them “consistent with what they needed, which means everything looks great.”

She said the city posted a notice of right to appeal regarding the bocce court on March 19 and it expires April 5.

Once the right-of-entry permit is completed, “we meet with Mary [Coakley Munk, the CRG chairwoman] and the contractor and we sign the right of entry as a group,” Castruita said. “We’re getting there.”

Coakley Munk said “it would be nice to get it in sooner than later, especially before everything opens up.”

Playground equipment replaced

DeLille said some equipment designated for older children on the Rec Center playground has been replaced because of “some areas that were broken.”

Using Parks & Recreation Department funding, the playground now has a new slide and cargo net, along with repairs to bridge sidings and replacement of a missing bolt to secure a handhold.

The Community Recreation Group next meets at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 28, online. For more information, call (858) 552-1658. ◆