2021 Year in Review: Top news stories in La Jolla

Chateau La Jolla resident Butch Hansen receives his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

This year, as San Diego started to emerge from its COVID-19 cave with the introduction of vaccines and return to in-person events, La Jollans were hard at work behind the scenes to make changes for the community as it transitions to its next (hopefully post-COVID) stage.

Here are many of the top local news stories of 2021:


UCSD projects: UC San Diego begins work on the controversial Theatre District Living and Learning neighborhood, despite an ongoing lawsuit looking to stop the project. The development would include five buildings ranging from nine to 21 stories for approximately 900,000 total square feet. The same month, UCSD announces plans to build the La Jolla Innovation Center, a seven-story, 110,000-square-foot building off campus at the intersection of Villa La Jolla Drive and La Jolla Village Drive, where Rock Bottom Brewery once stood.

Several palm trees in La Jolla appeared to be dying due to a weevil infestation happening throughout San Diego County.

Weevil worries: Reports begin that Canary Island date palm trees in La Jolla are dying due to a South American palm weevil infestation taking place across Southern California. The infestation causes the fronds to droop and the crowns to turn brown.

LJCPA committees: La Jolla Community Planning Association President Diane Kane calls for formation of three ad hoc committees to examine a longer-term vision for The Village, review the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance (blueprint for development) and catalog coastal views that have been blocked by development.

Parks & Beaches review: The city of San Diego informs the La Jolla Parks & Beaches group that it is not a recognized advisory board to the city, but a letter from Parks & Recreation Director Andy Field recognizes the “valuable support that La Jolla Parks & Beaches members provided to the city.”

Reservoir rework: The La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee votes against a city proposal to build a new 3.1-million-gallon reservoir in La Jolla Heights Natural Park above the Country Club area, saying the environmental review of the project was “incomplete.”

Open table: Gov. Gavin Newsom announces Jan. 25 that businesses can start to reopen after two months of a stay-at-home order, and many La Jolla restaurants are quick to reopen outdoors.

New bus route: The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board lends its support to a new bus route to connect the upcoming Mid-Coast Trolley line stops to The Village.

Gazebo gripes: Windansea residents start speaking out at meetings against plans to build a belvedere (also called a gazebo) at Windansea Beach. The construction would replace a belvedere that was torn down in an apparent act of vandalism in the 1980s.

Vaccination party: The Chateau La Jolla senior community holds a mass COVID-19 vaccination event for all of its residents and staff members.

Directional signs: The La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board chooses Texas-based FlashParking to install signs that would direct motorists to area parking garages and indicate how many spaces are in each one.


A COVID-19 vaccination superstation was set up at RIMAC arena at UC San Diego.
A COVID-19 vaccination superstation was set up at RIMAC arena at UC San Diego.
(Jarrod Valliere / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Vaccination center: UC San Diego opens a vaccination superstation at its RIMAC arena Feb. 8 to administer COVID-19 vaccines to university employees and UCSD Health patients and announces plans to widen its reach.

Coastal Rail Trail green light: The La Jolla Community Planning Association approves a revised Coastal Rail Trail proposal as submitted by the city. The trail is intended to connect Oceanside to downtown San Diego with bicycle lanes that provide increased visibility and safety.

Church in session: After the U.S. Supreme Court rules that churches can resume indoor services, La Jolla houses of worship are split as to whether to do so. Some that had embraced online services decide to wait, while others use outdoor spaces and tents. A few decide to welcome parishioners back indoors.

Parking signs gain traction: The La Jolla Planned District Ordinance Committee and La Jolla Village Merchants Association lend their support to the parking signage program proposed by the Coastal Access and Parking Board.

Parents and students from the five La Jolla public schools protest ongoing school closures Feb. 18.
Parents and students from the five La Jolla public schools in the San Diego Unified School District protest ongoing school closures Feb. 18.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Parents protest closures: About 100 parents and students gather outside Bird Rock Elementary School to protest the San Diego Unified School District’s continued campus closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and state their frustration with the lack of a target date or criteria for reopening.

UCSD restrictions: The San Diego City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee votes Feb. 18 to lift use restrictions on two parcels of land on the UC San Diego east campus. The restrictions were listed when the land was deeded to the university.

Bishop’s School accusations: A former student sues The Bishop’s School over allegations of sexual misconduct by a teacher while the student was a minor in the 1970s and ‘80s. A new law had changed the statute of limitations.

“Learning labs”: La Jolla’s five public schools open “learning labs” providing online education on campus in supervised groups for students most adversely affected by distance learning, such as those who don’t have internet access at home or are receiving below-standard grades.


Music Society embezzled: A La Jolla Music Society director of finance is dismissed following accusations that he stole $113,000 from the organization.

Shores work stalled: A project to place overhead utility lines underground is stalled in La Jolla Shores as the city of San Diego develops a new utility franchise agreement, frustrating residents and business owners in the area. Work began with trenching in January 2020 and stopped around Memorial Day, with nothing after that.

The "Piano Building" at 5680 La Jolla Blvd. in Bird Rock was built by architect William Kesling.

“Piano Building” plans: Plans are announced to convert Bird Rock’s “Piano Building” into a restaurant. The name or cuisine style is not announced, but owners say it will be “chef-driven” and “family-friendly.” While some are pleased that the long-vacant building on a prominent corner of La Jolla Boulevard would see life again, others are concerned about the removal of street trees and other landscaping for private benefit.

The late Walter Munk’s landscaped house, Seiche, is in La Jolla Shores.

Seiche: The La Jolla Shores Association votes to support listing Seiche, the former home of oceanographer Walter Munk, on the National Register of Historic Places. Munk’s widow, Mary Coakley Munk, led the charge toward historic designation.

Solar panels: The La Jolla Community Center completes a two-year project to install a new roof and solar panels.

Smart signals: UC San Diego announces plans for adaptive “smart” signals at 26 intersections in and around La Jolla. Smart signals adjust traffic light duration based on real-time traffic demand. The locations would be on Regents Road, North Torrey Pines Road and La Jolla Village Drive, installed in three phases starting in 2022.

Bird letters: “Threatening” and “disturbing” cease-and-desist letters from scooter company Bird are sent to a handful of La Jolla residents who used the Scoot Scoop service to remove errantly parked electric scooters. Scoot Scoop removes dockless bikes and scooters that are left on private property and driveways.

City seal: San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, launches exploratory plans to change the city seal to include “modern elements” that reflect the region’s connection to Mexico and the role of Indigenous people in San Diego culture. He said the new seal would be designed with public input.


Belvedere approved: The La Jolla Community Planning Association approves plans to build a belvedere at Windansea Beach, despite some area residents speaking against it at recent public meetings. The construction would replace a belvedere that was torn down in the 1980s.

Puesto's outdoor dining area in The Village.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Puesto plaza: Puesto Mexican restaurant on Wall Street applies for a permit to extent its outdoor dining program for up to five years. The outdoor dining area was placed over public parking spaces on the street in response to pandemic-related requirements for reduced indoor capacity at restaurants. Community planning groups quickly speak out against the idea.

Stop-work request: Local planners request that the city of San Diego issue a stop-work order for a home project on West Muirlands Drive overlooking Nautilus Street, saying the project is “out of compliance with the scope of work identified in the permit” by demolishing more than 50 percent of the original walls.

Reservoir project paused: After a series of meetings and the formation of a working group to address issues raised with the planned La Jolla View Reservoir project, the city announces it will reevaluate La Jolla’s water needs and proceed accordingly, effectively pausing the project.

Farr-well: La Jolla Tennis Club manager Scott Farr leaves his post of 15 years after declining a pay cut in a contract renewal. “We have quite a history [at the La Jolla Tennis Club] and I’m honored to be a part of it,” Farr says.

Back to school: The San Diego Unified School District reopens for optional in-person instruction April 12. More than half of La Jolla students choose to return in person, with the rest attending classes on Zoom. Students attending in person start at two days a week, with strict safety protocols such as mask wearing, frequent hand sanitizing and regular health screenings.

A larger-than-standard notice of application describes plans to vacate part of Cuvier Street in La Jolla.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

New notices: San Diego’s Development Services Department pilots a new form of public noticing for a La Jolla project, placing a 3-by-4-foot sign noticeable from a car and readable from the public sidewalk, rather than the 8½-by-11-inch sign previously used.

School sued: San Diego French American School in La Jolla is sued on allegations that it failed to intervene when a 6-year-old student was bullied and harassed. The suit seeks $25,000 in damages for each of the eight counts listed and calls for the resignation of the head of school.

State supports Seiche designation: The California State Historical Resources Commission votes April 30 to make late oceanographer Walter Munk’s former La Jolla home, Seiche, eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The nomination includes the main house, guest house, additions to the house, landscaping and sculptures.

Vaccination requirements: UC San Diego announces that students, faculty and staff will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the start of the fall semester in order to attend classes on campus.


Warwick's bookstore celebrates the renewal of its lease and its investors at a celebration May 1.
Warwick’s bookstore celebrates the renewal of its lease and its investors at a celebration May 1 at 7812 Girard Ave., where it can remain for 20 more years.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Warwick’s gets new lease on life: With Warwick’s bookstore facing the possible loss of its Girard Avenue location through the sale of the building, about three dozen community members, most of them from La Jolla, pool their resources to buy the site. Warwick’s signs a 10-year lease with the new ownership, with two five-year renewal options.

Homeless man tackled: Video circulates of San Diego police officers repeatedly punching Jesse Evans, a 34-year-old homeless man, in the face, head and leg after tackling him in La Jolla. The incident began after officers said they contacted Evans about urinating in public. The SDPD internal affairs unit investigates the incident, including reviewing body-worn camera footage.

The proposed La Jolla Innovation Center (center of artist's rendering).
(Courtesy of GPI Cos.)

Innovation Center approved: The UC Board of Regents lends its support to UC San Diego’s planned La Jolla Innovation Center, a seven-story, 110,000-square-foot building off campus at Villa La Jolla Drive and La Jolla Village Drive. This is after months of La Jolla community planning groups speaking out against the project.

Car crashes into coffee shop: A car crashes into the back of Harry’s Coffee Shop on May 12. The driver, the passenger in the car and one kitchen employee working inside the restaurant are injured.

Tennis Club backlash: The La Jolla Tennis Club faces backlash over its removal of a Black man, an Asian woman and a White man as coaches, leaving only White male coaches. Club management denies allegations that the terminations were racially motivated and provides a list of criteria considered in whether to renew contracts.

Restrictions lifted: The San Diego City Council votes to lift deed restrictions on two parcels of land on the UC San Diego east campus because the restrictions were found to “preclude UCSD from implementing several projects in the 2018 Long Range Development Plan,” according to the city.

Outdoor dining extended: The San Diego City Council votes to extend until July 13, 2022, the temporary outdoor business operation permit under which many restaurants in La Jolla and elsewhere are providing outdoor dining options.


San Diego Parks & Recreation Director Andy Field notes the importance of keeping distance from sea lions at La Jolla Cove.
San Diego Parks & Recreation Director Andy Field notes the importance of keeping distance from sea lions at La Jolla Cove during a news conference June 1.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

“Responsible tourism”: San Diego representatives announce June 1 that the city will install more signage at La Jolla Cove to discourage visitors from getting too close to sea lions, calling it the “responsible tourism” campaign.

UCSD vaccination station closes: UC San Diego’s COVID-19 vaccination supercenter at RIMAC arena administers its last dose June 1 as the need for mass vaccination declines and more people turn to their private physicians for the shots.

Second SDFAS lawsuit: A second lawsuit is filed against San Diego French American School in La Jolla alleging bullying and harassment by students. It claims the school failed to investigate the victim’s claims or take action to address them.

Whaling Bar: The La Valencia Hotel announces it will bring back the famed Whaling Bar, likely in 2022. The bar closed in 2013 after decades of hosting authors, Hollywood elite and more.

Officers killed: La Jolla High School graduate and San Diego police Officer Jamie Huntley-Park and her husband, fellow officer Ryan Park, are killed June 4 in a crash caused by a wrong-way driver in San Ysidro. More than 300 people attend the memorial service.

U.S. Open: The U.S. Open golf tournament returns to Torrey Pines Golf Course for the first time since 2008. Attendance is capped because of COVID-19 precautions, and proof of vaccination is required to attend.

Wall Street public market: The La Jolla Village Merchants Association announces plans to create a midweek public market on Wall Street that would involve a street closure one afternoon a week for vendors.

Shores outdoor dining: The La Jolla Shores Association applies to make its outdoor dining program permanent. The program, launched the year before in response to COVID-19-related restrictions on indoor dining, involves closing one block of Avenida de la Playa to vehicles so restaurants can place tables and chairs there. To facilitate the application, a group of residents revives the La Jolla Shores Business Association.

A rendering depicts the proposed new deck, storage and locker facilities at the Coggan Family Aquatic Complex.
A rendering depicts the proposed new deck, storage and locker facilities at the Coggan Family Aquatic Complex on the La Jolla High School campus.
(Courtesy of Story Architecture & Design)

Coggan campaign launches: A campaign to raise funds for a major renovation of the Coggan Family Aquatic Complex on the La Jolla High School campus launches to bring new and upgraded amenities to the heavily used 20-year-old facility.

Grand reopening: California ends its mandates on the mask wearing, social distancing and capacity limits that were implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Soon after, the La Jolla Village Merchants Association holds a ribbon cutting to celebrate all the businesses that opened during the pandemic.

Bicyclist killed: A bicyclist is struck and killed by a car June 23 while riding down North Torrey Pines Road. She is identified as Swati Tyagi, a scientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.


Fireworks fizzle: In the face of a lawsuit and despite a series of last-minute attempts to save it, La Jolla’s Fourth of July fireworks display is canceled for the fourth year in a row after state and city officials say the show would not be allowed at La Jolla Cove for lack of a needed permit.

A wedding is held at Windansea Beach on July 10 with several beach-goers nearby.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Windansea weddings: With wedding season in full effect, more and more nuptials take place at the base of La Jolla’s public Windansea Beach stairs, to the chagrin of surfers and other beach-goers who want to use the area.

Cove signage: In a first attempt to keep people away from sea lions at Point La Jolla, the city installs signs along the public right of way above Point La Jolla and Boomer Beach telling visitors it is a sea lion birthing area and to stay away from the pinnipeds.

Locals cut the ribbon on the new bocce court at the La Jolla Recreation Center.
Joe LaCava, Maryann Barton, Umberto Falcon, Vito Formica and Dan McCandless (from left) cut the ribbon on the new bocce court at the La Jolla Recreation Center.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Bring on the bocce: After years of planning and permitting, the La Jolla Recreation Center opens a bocce court with City Councilman Joe LaCava throwing out the ceremonial first ball. The regulation-size court cost $23,000 and was funded by Friends of La Jolla Recreation Center.

Selling Seiche: UC San Diego announces it will sell Seiche, the home of late oceanographer Walter Munk, less than two weeks after the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “The costs of renovation and ongoing operation were found to be prohibitive, with potentially limited permitted uses,” according to a university spokeswoman.

Cuvier Street vacation: After making the rounds at various community planning groups, a proposal to vacate a portion of Cuvier Street from city ownership goes before the La Jolla Community Planning Association, which asks for more information at a future meeting. In a street vacation, the city of San Diego relinquishes a public right of way and turns it over to an adjacent property owner or owners. Of the land netted by the vacation, the Rec Center would get the frontage along Prospect Street, amounting to 11,106 square feet. The south portion, 8,061 square feet, would go to The Bishop’s School.

Munk lab: Ten days after the former home of oceanographer Walter Munk is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the San Diego Historical Resources Board supports having the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics Judith and Walter Munk Laboratory also designated. In August, the State Historical Resources Commission does likewise.


A sign along the concrete wall that lines Point La Jolla directs people away from the bluffs.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Point La Jolla closure: After declaring a signage program unsuccessful, the city of San Diego on Aug. 3 announces its intent to issue an emergency permit to temporarily close a portion of Point La Jolla through Sept. 15. “We have called for responsible tourism, met with stakeholders, installed new signage, and yet crowds continue to seek up-close encounters with the sea lions,” said City Councilman Joe LaCava. The area is closed Aug. 11.

Guillas retires: After 27 years at The Marine Room and The Shores restaurants in La Jolla, chef Bernard Guillas retires, wanting to spend more time with his family, including his newborn son. He says he’ll miss the camaraderie with the chefs and staff at the “grand dame” Marine Room.

New trees: The Bird Rock Elementary School fifth-grade class of 2021 and the Village Garden Club of La Jolla plant two young New Zealand Christmas trees in a corner of the school’s joint-use field. The previous tree there, a decades-old large ficus that provided the only shade on the field, was severely damaged during a storm in January and had to be removed.

Public market concerns: Questions arise over the on-street public market planned for Wall Street, including how it would avoid competing with the La Jolla Open Aire Market on Sundays, how vendors would be chosen and whether the vendors would compete with brick-and-mortar merchants.

Surf contest nets $500,000: The Legends of Surfing Invitational raises $500,000 for Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego, even without its signature luau, which was canceled because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Board talks about disbanding: After FlashParking rescinds its proposal to create directional signs to local garages, and with no progress to speak of, the La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board discusses whether to disband. It ultimately decides to continue and moves to meet quarterly rather than monthly.

Ville sur Mer: The city of San Diego launches an investigation into a house known as Ville Sur Mer in La Jolla’s Lower Hermosa neighborhood, where weddings and other events are taking place. A complaint alleges a zoning violation and “unpermitted business in a residential zone.”

Kindergartner Michael Lipkovicius heads to Bird Rock Elementary School on the first day of classes Aug. 30.
Kindergartner Michael Lipkovicius heads to Bird Rock Elementary School on the first day of classes Aug. 30.
(Ryan Lipkovicius)

Back to school, again: La Jolla’s public schools open Aug. 30 for the San Diego Unified School District’s 2021-22 academic year with full-time in-person instruction for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students are required to wear a mask, except during predetermined times such as eating and drinking and P.E. class.


“Spaces as Places”: The San Diego Planning Commission unanimously supports plans for the city’s “Spaces as Places” program, which provides a mechanism for restaurants to transition their temporary outdoor dining areas to permanent ones.

Seasonal closure of Point La Jolla?: In the days leading to Point La Jolla’s reopening after a five-week emergency closure, City Councilman Joe LaCava announces plans to explore a seasonal closure of the area, with public input taken before any action. Sea lion pupping season is recognized from June 1 to Oct. 31 annually.

Nautilus plans approved: The La Jolla Community Planning Association approves conceptual plans to beautify and improve safety on a portion of Nautilus Street with roundabouts, landscaping, a landscaped median and a changed parking configuration near La Jolla High School.

The former 76 gas station at 801 Pearl St. in La Jolla was demolished the morning of Sept. 27.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

76 station 86ed: The former 76 gas station at 801 Pearl St. is demolished after sitting in a dilapidated state for more than a year. It’s making way for a mixed-use building that includes 26 residential units, two retail spaces and a lot with 23 parking spaces.

District 1 United: A group of residents called District 1 United forms to fight proposed changes to San Diego’s City Council District 1 during the redistricting process, which occurs every 10 years. The group drafts a position paper Sept. 13 outlining why District 1, which includes La Jolla, should remain in its current configuration.

“The Sandbox”: Gillispie School in La Jolla completes “The Sandbox,” a 17,000-square-foot expansion of the campus that will be used as space for gathering, music classes, science and design programs and a library. The extension includes a 7,000-square-foot building the school purchased at 7380 Girard Ave.

Parking forum canceled: A planned forum to discuss parking issues in La Jolla, including current offerings and options and whether to consider parking meters is canceled following a wave of backlash and local sponsoring groups pulling out.

Historical Society to get house: The owners of a nationally recognized house in the Hidden Valley area of La Jolla announce that it will be bequeathed to the La Jolla Historical Society upon the owners’ deaths. When the Historical Society takes ownership, it will be used as an educational and cultural resource.

75 years of Stella Maris: Stella Maris Academy celebrates 75 years in La Jolla and challenges its students to complete 75 acts of kindness to commemorate it. Stella Maris Academy began as the parochial school for Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church in 1947.

Ground is broken Sept. 19 for the Beverly and Joseph Glickman Hillel Center in La Jolla.
(Melissa Jacobs /

Hillel Center breaks ground: After 20 years of legal challenges, the Beverly and Joseph Glickman Hillel Center breaks ground in La Jolla, launching construction of a 6,500-square-foot center including three buildings around a central courtyard. The center will host Jewish learning and holiday experiences.

School vaccination mandate: The San Diego Unified School District board votes to mandate that staff and students 16 and older be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 20 to participate in in-person instruction. Several hundred people protest the mandate.


Closure conditions: The La Jolla Community Planning Association asks the city of San Diego to preserve access to Boomer Beach during any future closures of Point La Jolla during sea lion pupping season. It also asks the California Coastal Commission to require an environmental impact report for any future closure.

Public market plans canceled: Plans by the La Jolla Village Merchants Association to establish a public market on Wall Street are discontinued after a wave of opposition and questions about its operation. Instead, LJVMA announces it will focus on the planned First Friday Art Walk.

A plaque is placed in front of the bedrock mortar in Cuvier Park.
A plaque placed in front of the bedrock mortar in Cuvier Park reads “May the resiliency of the Kumeyaay forever be remembered.”
(Courtesy of Angela Sterling)

Bedrock mortar: A Kumeyaay bedrock mortar — a stone milling feature historically used for grinding of grain, acorns or herbs — that was returned to Cuvier Park in La Jolla in 2019 after being moved and stored offsite in 2017, is ceremoniously blessed by local tribal councils. A plaque is placed onsite to mark its significance.

Tarballs on beach: After a large oil spill off the coast of Orange County, tar balls begin appearing on La Jolla beaches and Coast Guard crews are dispatched to clean them up. Residents are encouraged not to touch them.

Cliff collapse study: The Scripps Institution of Oceanography gets $2.5 million from a state Assembly bill to fund a study of the processes that lead to cliff failure and collapse. The study ideally would yield better prediction systems and warnings.

“Safe Place”: New “Safe Place” decals are posted in many La Jolla storefronts. The decals have phone numbers and a QR code that directs people to a website to report discrimination, harassment or hate crimes.

Social studies: Some of La Jolla’s public schools report a decline in social interaction and other skills due to students spending months at home learning online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Living butterfly garden: Enhance La Jolla, the local board that administers the Maintenance Assessment District for The Village, announces plans to hang milkweed plants in overhead planters along La Jolla’s main streets to encourage butterflies to populate the area. The monarch butterfly relies on milkweed for laying eggs, supplying food and providing a place for chrysalises to hang.

Orchids & Onions: The Map of the Grand Canyon of La Jolla and UC San Diego’s North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood win top architectural prizes in the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Orchids & Onions awards.

Fire anniversary: Oct. 26 marks the first anniversary of a fire that destroyed La Jolla’s historic Red Rest cottage and damaged the adjacent Red Roost cottage — considered The Village’s oldest structures. Preliminary plans for the cottages’ reconstruction and rehabilitation have been submitted by the property owners.


New Rec Center leader: New La Jolla Recreation Center director Nick Volpe starts work Nov. 1. He comes to the center after serving as director of the Pacific Beach Recreation Center. Former La Jolla director Jesse DeLille transfers within the San Diego Parks & Recreation Department.

The proposed Cuvier Street vacation is shaded in green.
The approved Cuvier Street vacation, shaded in green, is shown in a rendering along with a restriping of parking spaces in the area from parallel to diagonal.
(Courtesy of Trace Wilson)

Cuvier Street vacation approved: After making the rounds to La Jolla community planning groups and months of research after that, a proposal to vacate a portion of Cuvier Street from city ownership gets the La Jolla Community Planning Association’s approval.

New Torrey pines grove: Friends of Coast Walk Trail raises enough money in 2021 to purchase seven new Torrey pine trees in a miniature grove overlooking Goldfish Point, and the trees are planted Nov. 15. Major funding comes from area Rotary clubs and private residents.

Streetscape approvals: A La Jolla streetscape plan gets the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance Committee’s unanimous approval. The plan is a $15 million four-phase project to create a plaza at “The Dip” on Prospect Street, establish a midblock crossing in the 7800 block of Girard Avenue, renovate the intersection of Girard and Wall Street, and add landscaping and pop-outs (curb extensions at an intersection that help make pedestrians more visible and slow car speeds around the turn) on Girard at Silverado Street. Throughout the four phases, plans include improved landscaping, additional benches and lighting and artistic elements.

No more Lake Forward: A drainage swale is installed at the roundabout on La Jolla Boulevard at Forward Street to reduce or prevent the flooding that annually takes place there. Over the past five years, the area has flooded to the point that residents took to calling the area “Lake Forward.”

“Ghost ship”: A sailboat is seen anchored off the coast of Bird Rock, seemingly abandoned. However, city, state and federal officials say no laws are being broken by the boat being there.

Blue Line trolley: An 11-mile Blue Line trolley extension, considered a “game changer” for mass transit, opens, connecting the Old Town transit center to UC San Diego in La Jolla.

Redistricting first map: The San Diego Redistricting Commission’s preliminary map for City Council districts keeps UC San Diego in District 1, moves Pacific Beach from District 2 to District 1 and moves University City from District 1 to District 6.

Jerri Hunt (left) and James Rudolph flank Sherry Ahern, one of the Hometown Heroes honored by the La Jolla Town Council.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Hometown Heroes: The La Jolla Town Council holds its inaugural Hometown Heroes celebration to honor those who have helped others during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 10 honorees are Chris Cott, Valley Farm Market, Dorie DeFranco, San Diego police officers Scott Wahl and Rick Aguilar, Ed Witt, Sherry Ahern, Tom Grunow, Jack McGrory and Michelle Munoz-Talcott.

Belvedere moves forward: The San Diego City Council denies an appeal of the planned new Windansea belvedere, allowing the project to proceed through the permitting process.

Planning group reforms: City Councilman Joe LaCava introduces 30 community planning group reform measures intended to bring the operations of planning groups citywide in line with the city charter. A series of hearings is planned throughout the first part of 2022, with implementation by next fall.


MCASD first look: The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego provides a sneak preview of its renovated La Jolla facility. The museum, primed to reopen in April, will be four times its previous size.

A sailboat anchored for weeks off the coast of Bird Rock is approached by another vessel Nov. 18.
(Trace Wilson)

“Ghost ship” gone: The sailboat that sat anchored off the coast of Bird Rock for five weeks is towed away and impounded by San Diego lifeguards. Though the city said the “ghost ship’s” presence did not break any laws, lifeguards marked the boat to check for ownership or habitation and left it for a few days. When they returned, no owner was found, so the boat was impounded.

Catalytic converter thefts: Catalytic converter thefts, which were rampant across California earlier in the year, hit La Jolla. Locals from Bird Rock to The Village say the part has been stolen from their cars, often gas-electric Toyota Priuses. Catalytic converters contain valuable precious metals.

This vehicle has been seen parked in front of American Pizza Manufacturing on La Jolla Boulevard off and on in recent months.
(Courtesy photo)

Pizza lawsuit: After a vehicle is repeatedly observed for months parked in front of American Pizza Manufacturing with wrapping bearing a derogatory message about “take n bake pizza” and a plane is seen flying overhead with similar messaging, Ajay Thakore, who also goes by the name Ace Rogers, sues the restaurant for $10 million, citing harassment and attempts to interfere with a “peaceful and orderly protest.” American Pizza Manufacturing owner Andrew Melone denies the allegations.

Bishop’s buys Jack site: The Bishop’s School in La Jolla buys the property at 564 Pearl St. that once housed Jack in the Box restaurant. In the short term, Bishop’s plans to lease out the space. In the long term, the school plans to convert it for yet-to-be-determined student use.

Reform objections: La Jolla Community Planning Association trustees speak out against proposed planning group reforms, with many saying the measures would make it time-consuming, laborious and more challenging to serve.

PATH lead outreach specialist Jayna Lee speaks to a man who was sleeping on the street.
PATH lead outreach specialist Jayna Lee speaks to a man who was sleeping on the street.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

A PATH to housing: The La Jolla Light accompanies People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) and Father Joe’s Villages on an outreach visit to La Jolla’s unhoused residents. During the visits, specialists provide services such as snacks or basic needs kits and build rapport so they can ultimately help the people get into housing.

Children’s Pool study: The La Jolla Parks & Beaches group agrees to fund a study of the needs of La Jolla’s Children’s Pool. The 90-year-old landmark comprises a seawall, a sandstone bluff that anchors the stairway, a sandstone reef that anchors the foundation of the breakwater, a man-made beach and more.

Coastal Commission concerns: The California Coastal Commission calls the interaction between people and sea lions at Point La Jolla “out of control” and “quite disturbing.” Some commissioners ask if they can do something to mitigate the situation in the short term rather than wait for the city of San Diego to apply for a permit to close the area on a seasonal basis.

Half marathon: The La Jolla Half Marathon makes its way from Del Mar to La Jolla Cove on Dec. 11. Approximately 2,000 runners complete the 13.1-mile race, with proceeds going to the Kiwanis Club of La Jolla, which awards money to schools and nonprofit organizations.

Redistricting final map: New boundaries are approved for San Diego City Council District 1, extending the southern boundary to include Pacific Beach and keeping UC San Diego in the district. The new map meets with approval of representatives of District 1 United and the Bird Rock Community Council.

— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff writer Ashley Mackin-Solomon