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Opponents’ appeal over Windansea belvedere project to go before City Council on Nov. 16

A belvedere proposal for Windansea is opposed by the Preserve Windansea Beach Association.
(Courtesy of Preserve Windansea Beach Association)

After years of community review and a surge of objections, an appeal has been filed with the city of San Diego by opponents of a project to build a belvedere at La Jolla’s Windansea Beach. It is scheduled to be heard as part of the City Council meeting Tuesday, Nov. 16, online.

The appeal, filed by a group called the Preserve Windansea Beach Association, questions city staff’s determination that the project is exempt from California Environmental Quality Act review and that it would have no environmental impact.

The project calls for coastal development and site development permits for a public-private project along the west side of Neptune Place between Westbourne Street and Palomar Avenue. Work would include construction of a belvedere (a shade structure also known as a gazebo) on Neptune near Rosemont Street, along with continuation of post-and-chain barriers and new benches and trash receptacles. The whole project is to be funded by Friends of Windansea.

The construction has been described as replacement of a belvedere that is believed to have been torn down in an act of vandalism in 1982. The new belvedere, similar to others that line the La Jolla coast, would be about 9 feet tall, 10 feet long and 6 feet wide and built with historically accurate wood that can withstand oceanside air.

The project began circulating at La Jolla community planning group meetings in 2018.

The concept was approved by the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee in 2018 and La Jolla Parks & Beaches in 2020, with more detailed plans approved by the DPR in February.

The La Jolla Community Planning Association approved the proposal in April.

Then, a week later, the La Jolla Town Council said during its review of the project that it wanted more information and requested that LJCPA take another look at the plan. However, LJCPA President Diane Kane said at the time that “we have already sent our comments into the city, and we’re done with it.”

Earlier this year, those opposed to the gazebo formed the Preserve Windansea Beach Association. Members include Windansea-area homeowners and greater San Diego residents and those who “visit Windansea shoreline and beach to recreate and enjoy its open, unobstructed vistas and epic sunsets.”

Several area residents spoke out against the project during a Parks & Beaches meeting in January.

The Preserve Windansea Beach Association said in a statement Nov. 8 that it “is in complete opposition to the new construction of an unnecessary belvedere (gazebo) structure on the delicate bluffs of Windansea Beach.”

The group said it feels there are areas in which the proposal does not meet local code, and it expressed concerns about crime, nuisance and environmental issues, a lack of an “overall cohesive design plan,” insufficient disabled-access parking, the presence of an “abundance” of other belvederes and more.

Group representative Andrea Rosati said in April that the belvedere project “violates community plan policies concerning open space, visual resources and sensitive wealth protection” and would block views from Neptune Place. She also contended the belvedere would add to erosion and likely “impact key biological resources targeted for protection.”

In light of the opposition, Friends of Windansea member Jim Neri, a landscape architect, said minor changes were made to the planned belvedere, such as addressing safety concerns by removing some of the slats surrounding the base to make it easier to see if someone is inside. But he said the sides were otherwise at an impasse.

A belvedere similar to this one at Scripps Park is proposed for Windansea Beach.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

“This project is really about creating more protection for the slope,” Neri said. “It will create a simple post-and-chain barrier that directs people to existing access points and discourages them from creating new ones. That is the real purpose of this project.

“It has been approved at every advisory group, but then at the 11th hour folks came out against it.”

He said the local belvederes are “iconic” and “part of our community fabric that has been torn. All we want to do is mend it.” ◆