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La Jolla Parks & Beaches group supports 1-4 a.m. parking ban at Windansea lot

Windansea Beach parking lot
La Jolla Parks & Beaches lent its support to a city proposal to prohibit late-night parking at the Windansea Beach lot, though it’s recommending that the ban be fewer hours than the city plan.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The La Jolla Parks & Beaches board lent its support July 26 to a planned nightly parking prohibition at the Windansea Beach lot.

A proposal put in motion by the city of San Diego looks to install signs prohibiting parking between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. However, LJP&B will recommend that parking be barred only from 1 to 4 a.m.

LJP&B President Claudia Baranowski said during the board’s online meeting that a memo was sent to certain community groups, LJP&B among them, seeking input on overnight parking in certain areas along the coast. The only one within LJP&B’s jurisdiction was the 16-space parking lot at Windansea.

On-street parking without a time limit in the largely residential surrounding area would not be restricted by the proposal.

According to the memo, issued July 12 by Parks & Recreation Department Director Andy Field, “The parking lots in coastal parks (Sunset Cliffs, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla) and several in Mission Bay Park routinely attract large numbers of illegal campers, gang members and large parties” that result in gang-related criminal activity such as assaults and vandalism, misuse of city property such as loitering and illegal parking, and party-related offenses such as loud parties and public intoxication.

“Based on recent observations of after-hours activity and requests made to secure those areas at night, the city is considering … [parking lots] for overnight closure. The [Parks & Recreation] Department would bring an action request forward to the California Coastal Commission to obtain permission to install … signage to clear and close parking lots to reduce the number of illegal activities in the beach and bay areas that have had increased criminal activity and reduced public safety.”

The proposal likely will be submitted to the Coastal Commission in November.

Melinda Merryweather, a member of LJP&B and Friends of Windansea, said the Friends group is “all behind it; we think it’s a great idea. It’s 100 percent needed right now.”

With summer in full swing and travel restrictions relaxed after a turbulent year, more and more visitors will be coming to San Diego.

Though largely in agreement, several LJP&B members found the proposed 10 p.m. start time on the parking prohibition too restrictive for the diving and lobster fishing communities that use the beach, and for beach-goers during the summer.

LJP&B member Ken Hunrichs, who suggested 1 a.m. as an alternative, said that time “would allow a period of time for enforcement of overnight campers or homeless people, which the police can use to keep things safe.” He noted that lobster fishing is done at night so a 10 p.m. return to the shore “wouldn’t work.”

Echoing his sentiment, Volker Hoehne, a member of the San Diego Council of Divers, said the free diving community “stays out regularly until midnight, so the 10 p.m. cutoff is a bit early.”

Merryweather expressed confidence that Friends of Windansea would be OK with that change. “We are a community of surfers, swimmers and divers, so if that works for divers, we would be happy to honor that,” she said. “There are a lot of water people here.”

LJP&B member Ann Dynes said she supports the 1 a.m. start time because “if you couldn’t park there from even midnight on, the kinds of people that are using these parking lots to stay overnight will have already made their plans by then.”

On a recent sunny Saturday — actually on several recent sunny Saturdays — weddings at the base of the Neptune Place stairs mixed in with hundreds of beach-goers at La Jolla’s Windansea.

However, some other LJP&B members voiced concern that the limitations on parking would send campers and others who otherwise would be in the lot overnight into the residential neighborhood.

“If there is no policing and no follow-up, are we making things worse?” board member John Shannon said.

As part of its letter to the city, LJP&B is asking “to understand how the no-parking order will be enforced” and is requesting a copy of the information that will be sent to the Coastal Commission.

A motion to send the letter passed with trustees Shannon, Jane Reldan, Dan Allen and John Leek in opposition, posing questions about enforcement and neighborhood impacts.

La Jolla Parks & Beaches will not meet in August; the next meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 27. It is expected to be held at the La Jolla Recreation Center, but that has not been finalized. Learn more at lajollaparksbeaches.org.

LJP&B trustee Stan Minick is remembered

A moment of silence was held at the end of the July 26 La Jolla Parks & Beaches meeting in honor of member Stan Minick, who died July 9. His seat on the board will be filled at the group’s Sept. 27 meeting.

Minick was approximately 93 years old. His widow, Phyllis, who also is a board member, could not immediately be reached for comment.

LJP&B President Claudia Baranowski said: “I would like to express our condolences to Phyllis Minick and her family. … While I did not know him well, I know many of you did and were able to work with him closely as he sat on this board for many years.” ◆