La Jolla News Nuggets: Scripps Park Pavilion, Environment Committee, heroism award, local charity work, more

A rendering depicts the Scripps Park Pavilion project near La Jolla Cove.

Scripps Park restroom pavilion to open next month

After years of delays stemming from everything from the pandemic to permits, the Scripps Park Pavilion restroom facility is primed for a January opening, officials say.

The project, which was introduced in January 2014, is a replacement “comfort station” in Ellen Browning Scripps Park adjacent to La Jolla Cove. The project included demolition of the existing comfort station.

The new facility will include more toilets, unisex toilet stalls, showers, storage space and more.

Construction was originally expected in the first part of 2019 for a summer 2021 opening, but an unexpected redesign of certain features pushed the date back, according to project managers. Construction issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic also caused a delay.

The project price tag is $5.2 million — $3.2 million for construction costs and the remainder for design contingency and environmental permitting.

LaCava to chair City Council Environment Committee

City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, has assumed chairmanship of the City Council’s Environment Committee. The decision came in the wake of the shift in the City Council presidency from Jennifer Campbell to Sean Elo-Rivera.

Before his Environment Committee appointment, LaCava had been the only member of the council not in charge of any committee.

According to the city, the Environment Committee‘s area of responsibility includes policy matters related to water, wastewater, stormwater and parks.

Man receives heroism award for La Jolla ocean rescue

Neil Garrett received the Carnegie Medal for helping to rescue a young girl in La Jolla in 2020.
(Courtesy of Carnegie Hero Fund Commission)

Neil Garrett of Santee has received the Carnegie Medal for helping to rescue a 10-year-old girl from rough ocean waves at La Jolla Shores last year.

The Carnegie Medal, established in 1904, is given throughout the United States and Canada to those who risk extreme danger while saving or attempting to save the lives of others. It is North America’s highest honor for civilian heroism.

The recognition comes with a medal and a financial grant.

Garrett performed the rescue in May 2020 after the girl’s parents lost sight of her. He entered the water and swam to the girl.

Hugging her to him with one arm, Garrett sidestroked back toward shore but made little progress in the rough conditions. Surfer Jack Barone approached them and he and Garrett placed the girl on a surfboard and got her to shore, where she was taken to a hospital.

Garrett said he is honored to receive the award. “I did what I believe most people would have done if placed in my flip-flops on the beach that day,” he told the La Jolla Light. “I would like to thank God and Jack Barone, because without their presence in the ocean, I truly believe my heroic efforts would have been for naught.”

Newcomers Club donates warm clothes and money to charity

The La Jolla Newcomers Club recently concluded its fall charitable campaign on behalf of One Warm Coat, a national organization dedicated to providing warm clothing to those in need by partnering with local agencies.

The club selected Shoreline Community Services in Pacific Beach, which serves people in PB, La Jolla and Mission Beach. Mimi Sells, coordinator of the Newcomers Club campaign, delivered about 50 bags of warm-weather wear, from coats to scarves to sweaters, to Shoreline Director Caryn Blanton. In addition, the club made a $750 donation to the national One Warm Coat organization.

The Newcomers Club is welcoming new members. People who have moved to La Jolla’s 92037 ZIP code in the past three years are eligible to join. For more details, visit

Local volunteers help toy and food collection

Alex Cockrell helps out as the La Jolla chapter of the National League of Young Men supported a toy and food collection.
Alex Cockrell helps out as the La Jolla chapter of the National League of Young Men supported the Angel Tree Toy and Food Collection on Dec. 12.
(Courtesy of Sharon Jones)

Members of the La Jolla chapter of the National League of Young Men spent time Dec. 12 at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in San Diego supporting the Angel Tree Toy and Food Collection.

The campaign provides presents, food and comfort to families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to celebrate the holiday season.

Volunteers from the La Jolla chapter made food boxes, broke down cardboard boxes for recycling, took out trash and helped arrange books for donation.

For more information about the National League of Young Men, visit or email

Sammy’s restaurant in La Jolla reopens after water leak

Sammy’s Food + Wine reopened its La Jolla restaurant Dec. 17 after it had been closed since Oct. 26 due to water in the building from a leak upstairs.

The leak occurred about two months after the restaurant, at 702 Pearl St., completed a remodeling, including an updated patio, according to representative Sara Wacker.

“Although it’s never ideal to experience a closure, we are very happy to open before the holidays to help host celebrations for our La Jolla friends and neighbors,” owner and founder Sami Ladeki said in a statement.

Salk scientists find how anxiety affects breathing

The reason that breathing rate increases dramatically when a person is hurting or anxious has been discovered by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, who uncovered a neural network in the brain that coordinates breathing rhythm with feelings of pain and fear.

The findings could lead to development of an analgesic to prevent opioid-induced respiratory depression, the disrupted breathing that causes overdose deaths.

In the study published Dec. 17 in Neuron, the Salk group focused on a group of neurons in the area of the brain that processes fear and the emotional experience of pain, and neurons in a region that generates breathing rhythm. The neurons influence one another, making us breathe faster when we experience pain or anxiety, according to the study.

‘Ebola’s Evolution’: La Jolla resident’s new book compares Ebola with COVID-19

La Jolla resident Dr. Michael Oldstone, who led the Viral-Immunobiology Laboratory at Scripps Research, has written “Ebola’s Evolution: Turning Despair to Deliverance: A Road Map for COVID-19.”

The book, written with Madeleine Rose Oldstone, details the origin of Ebola and its multiple outbreaks and compares the fight against the deadly virus with the current struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ebola’s Evolution” is available at

Shores Association to hold board election in March; forms due Jan. 8

Five seats will be available in the La Jolla Shores Association’s board election March 9, with five members’ terms expiring.

The current members are permitted to run for re-election, along with anyone else interested.

Candidates must return the proper forms, including the registered membership form, by Saturday, Jan. 8, to be eligible for the election. For more information, visit

— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff