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La Jolla Town Council seeks ‘another look’ from community planners on Windansea belvedere project

A belvedere proposed for Windansea Beach was recently approved by the La Jolla Community Planning Association.
(Courtesy)

Seeking “additional information,” the La Jolla Town Council voted April 8 to send the controversial effort to place a new belvedere view structure at Windansea Beach back to the La Jolla Community Planning Association, requesting further review.

LJCPA approved the proposal a week earlier.

After multiple local hearings over several months, plans for a controversial belvedere shade structure at Windansea Beach got support from the La Jolla Community Planning Association on April 1.

Town Council president emeritus Ann Kerr Bache said “there’s enough concern that’s been presented to us to take another look.”

But LJCPA President Diane Kane, who did not attend the Town Council meeting, told the La Jolla Light on April 9 that “this project was acted on last week; we have already sent our comments into the city, and we’re done with it.”

The Town Council and LJCPA are “totally separate organizations” and the Town Council has no influence on LJCPA action, Kane said.

“The CPA is the recognized planning group for La Jolla,” she said.

Town Council President James Rudolph said, “We’ve not taken a position; we just voted to request additional information and input.”

He later told the Light that “given the increased interest in this project, it means we will receive additional information. The application will still be processed with the city and LJTC can have input.”

Gary Geiler, assistant director of the San Diego Development Services Department, said that while the city “values input from a variety of organizations, the La Jolla Town Council is not a city of San Diego recognized advisory group. The Community Planning Association provides recommendations ... to a decision-maker on proposed projects.”

The proposed belvedere would be built on Neptune Place near Rosemont Street. It has been described as a replacement of a belvedere that is believed to have been torn down in an act of vandalism in 1982. The structure, also known as a gazebo, would be similar to those along the coast at Scripps Park near La Jolla Cove.

The belvedere, expected to cost $24,000, is part of a broader list of planned improvements between Westbourne Street and Palomar Avenue. The whole project is to be funded by Friends of Windansea, largely with a donation from La Jollan Tom Morgan.

Along with LJCPA, the plan has been approved by La Jolla’s Development Permit Review Committee and Parks & Beaches board.

Andrea Rosati, representing the Preserve Windansea Beach Association, spoke at the Town Council’s April 8 meeting to oppose the belvedere, saying it “violates community plan policies concerning open space, visual resources and sensitive wealth protection.”

Placing a structure on the narrow bluff above Windansea “reduces scenery and available open space,” Rosati said. “The views from Neptune Place will be blocked by the belvedere.”

Rosati contended the belvedere also would “experience erosion” similar to that at other La Jolla belvederes, would add to existing erosion and is “likely to impact key biological resources targeted for protection.”

The proposed Windansea belvedere would "experience erosion" similar to that shown here, opponent Andrea Rosati says.
The proposed Windansea belvedere would “experience erosion” similar to other La Jolla belvederes, as shown here, opponent Andrea Rosati says.
(Courtesy)

“There’s been a lot of discussion regarding the historicity of the belvedere, which everyone agrees is not a designated historic resource. And neither are any of the existing belvederes,” she added.

“Preserve Windansea has collected over 500 signatures in opposition to the belvedere, and more than 50 letters of opposition have been submitted,” Rosati said. “We were dismayed when the planning group voted to approve the project. It seems to us as though nostalgia was outweighing the policies of the community plan.”

Melinda Merryweather, a member of Friends of Windansea, said the original belvedere that was torn down should have been replaced long ago.

“Our whole purpose is to maintain Windansea in its original historic state, and the belvedere is a huge part of that,” Merryweather said. “We have hundreds of letters and comments that support returning the belvedere to Windansea Beach.”

“The belvedere is not a view blocker,” she added. “It is in fact 55 percent open. This is a public beach. It is not a private residential beach.”

Jim Neri, also a member of FOW, said the new belvedere would be where the former one was “in the size that it was.”

He said a belvedere shown in Rosati’s presentation is “from the Children’s Pool, which is a lot larger than the belvedere that existed at Windansea.”

The city promised to replace the original belvedere after its destruction but was unable to find funding for it, Neri said. “We’ve got the money from the private donor and we’re ready to rebuild it,” he said.

Rosati said the residents she represents “are very concerned about encouraging criminal behavior with a new sheltered structure.”

Kerr Bache asked Community Relations Officer Brandon Broaddus of the San Diego Police Department’s Northern Division if the belvedere would present a “public safety hazard” through homeless people sleeping inside it.

“I personally haven’t seen anything like that, or any issues,” Broaddus said, “but I haven’t done any research.”

The lone dissenting vote in the Town Council’s action came from trustee Christy Littlemore, who later told the Light that I’m in support of the belvedere being replaced. It was built in 1912. It was removed in the 1980s without discussion or permission by either vandals or a neighbor. I believe in preserving the history of La Jolla.”

The La Jolla Town Council next meets at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 13. Learn more at lajollatowncouncil.org.