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Concept to beautify Nautilus Street gets La Jolla community planners’ approval

Architect Trace Wilson's concept to beautify Nautilus Street would add trees and a greener median.
Architect Trace Wilson’s concept to beautify Nautilus Street would add trees and a greener median from Muirlands Drive (near the bottom of the graphic) west to Fay Avenue.
(Courtesy of Trace Wilson)

A concept to beautify and manage traffic along part of Nautilus Street got unanimous support from the La Jolla Community Planning Association during its Sept. 2 meeting. Given that the project is in its earliest phase, there is no completion timeline or cost projection.

The proposal includes a roundabout at Nautilus and Fay Avenue, with two more potential roundabouts at Avenida Mañana and Muirlands Drive; landscaping along the sides of Nautilus; the addition of a landscaped center median; and changing to diagonal parking closer to La Jolla High and Muirlands Middle schools.

The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board approved the concept July 21.

The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board voted to approve a concept designed to beautify and improve safety along a portion of Nautilus Street.

“The effort here is to create a plan that works with underground utilities plans that are going on today and create bikeways that create a public parkway rather than just a sheet of asphalt that has been there since 1955,” according to La Jolla architect Trace Wilson, who brought the idea forward. “The idea is to take a pass at this with a landscaped median and landscaped parkways … and diagonal parking that will help to slow traffic and beautify the public right of way.”

Wilson is a member of Vision La Jolla, an ad-hoc committee of the Community Planning Association.

Wilson said the beautification efforts would include drought-tolerant plants on a raised median “in a way that accommodates buses and emergency personnel.”

If successful, he said, similar beautification efforts could be implemented on the stretch of Nautilus between La Jolla High School and Windansea, and then up toward Mount Soledad.

LJCPA President Diane Kane noted that as proposed, there is no money for it. But “we would like to get as many streetscape projects conceptually approved so when money is available for any sort of street work … we are being proactive and coming up with alternatives to restriping what is there [which the city would do],” she said. “We want to see other ways that the right of way can be reapportioned.”

Responding to questions from LJCPA trustees, Wilson said he had not spoken to the schools along Nautilus that would be affected but had monitored drop-offs to see what impacts there could be. He said he would reach out to the schools for input should the proposal move forward.

La Jollan Phil Merten said that any planting taller than 3 or 4 feet would block views. He encouraged the use of low vegetation.

Trustee Brian Will noted that the project is only a concept and said: “I think we should wholeheartedly support these projects. Now is not the time to nitpick a design that doesn’t exist yet. … When there is a proposal in front of us, we can get into the specifics about traffic and things like that. That is a dangerous and ugly stretch of road.”

The existing look along Nautilus Street.
(Trace Wilson)

Will’s motion to approve the concept passed 14-0. The project may move forward if funding for implementation and maintenance becomes available.

Another proposal Wilson is shopping around to community groups — for the city of San Diego to vacate a portion of Cuvier Street between the La Jolla Recreation Center and The Bishop’s School — was pulled from LJCPA review and held over to next month.

The street vacation is considered a necessary part of the planned Recreation Center renovation to help expand its offerings. The requested Cuvier vacation also includes a lot-line adjustment, splitting the real estate widthwise instead of the usual method of drawing a line down the middle of the road.

The Rec Center would take the frontage along Prospect Street, amounting to 11,106 square feet, said Wilson, a member of the Recreation Center Visioning Committee. The south portion, 8,061 square feet, would go to The Bishop’s School.

LJCPA heard the project in July but had questions about who owns what part of Cuvier Street. Since then, Wilson has been meeting with the San Diego city attorney’s office to “verify some facts” on the project. “We are working directly with the Parks & Recreation and Development Services departments to ensure everybody is on the same page,” Wilson said.

The plan has garnered approval from the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee, Traffic & Transportation Board and Planned District Ordinance Committee over the past year. ◆