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A tale of two streetscapes: Enhance La Jolla and Village Visioning Committee put forth improvement plans

A concept image shows what could be done at Wall Street and Girard Avenue as part of the Enhance La Jolla streetscape plan.
A conceptual image shows what could be done at Wall Street and Girard Avenue as part of the Enhance La Jolla streetscape plan.
(Courtesy of Enhance La Jolla)

Two La Jolla groups are in various stages of creating and implementing streetscape plans for La Jolla. One is the La Jolla Community Foundation working with Enhance La Jolla, whose plan focuses on Girard Avenue and Prospect Street. The other is the La Jolla Community Planning Association’s Village Visioning Committee, which is looking at some broader areas around town.

The Village Visioning Committee presented its plans to the Enhance La Jolla board Jan. 20. Enhance La Jolla will present its plans to the Community Planning Association in February.

Enhance La Jolla plan

The Enhance La Jolla streetscape plan (streetscape basically means the appearance or view of a street) is a four-phase, $15 million project to renovate Girard Avenue between Silverado and Prospect streets and the area known as “The Dip” at Prospect. Planned street improvements in the public right of way include curb extensions, paving, landscaping, lighting, conversion of northbound Prospect to a public pedestrian way between Girard and Herschel avenues and converting the southbound side of Prospect in that area to two-way traffic. With more than $1.5 million already available, construction on the first of four phases is expected to start this year.

The plan recently got the approval of La Jolla’s Planned District Ordinance Committee, Development Permit Review Committee and Traffic & Transportation Board.

Enhance La Jolla administers the La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District and, through the MAD, has the ability to work in the public right of way.

La Jolla Community Foundation Chairwoman Phyllis Pfeiffer, who also is president and general manager of the La Jolla Light, said the construction team has completed its preliminary reviews with the city of San Diego, and the Community Foundation “just granted $185,000 to the construction team to come up with the completed final drawings. Once we get those through the city and raise the [rest of the] money, we can start construction.”

The project has four phases, including creating a plaza at The Dip on Prospect Street, establishing a midblock crossing in the 7800 block of Girard Avenue, renovating the intersection of Girard and Wall Street, and adding 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. The Girard Avenue/Wall Street renovation is expected to be done first due to funding availability. There is no secured order for the other phases.

The project will go before LJCPA at its meeting Thursday, Feb. 3, online.

Village Visioning Committee plan

The Village Visioning Committee separately is looking for a way to bring continuity to La Jolla’s streets and public rights of way and improve traffic flow and on-street aesthetics. However, its plan is a long way from implementation, according to architect Trace Wilson.

A map of areas that could be included in the Village Visioning Committee's streetscape plan is presented to Enhance La Jolla.
A map of areas that could be included in the Village Visioning Committee’s streetscape plan is presented to the Enhance La Jolla board during its Jan. 20 meeting online.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

“We are not competing or going against the efforts of [Enhance La Jolla],” Wilson said. “We want to see the best urban environment for La Jolla that we can … but we know these efforts are going to take decades to complete. La Jolla is in a deplorable state right now. … The Village is decaying, and we know we can do better.”

A concept to rework what is referred to as the La Jolla Cultural District was presented at the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board’s Jan. 19 virtual meeting.

He said things like street trees were placed “haphazardly” throughout The Village over the years and that the Visioning Committee streetscape plan would create a unified vision for the area.

Comparing La Jolla with Beverly Hills, he said “there is a simplicity and power in a street-tree pattern on midblock crossings and the urban realm. It creates a character for different streets or areas. Each street could have a different pattern. There could be the jacaranda street or the crepe myrtle street.”

For on-street improvements to traffic flow, he said roundabouts could be installed at select La Jolla intersections and parking could be modified.

“Part of this project is to get ahead of these catalytic projects [such as the La Jolla Recreation Center renovation and Enhance La Jolla streetscape plan] so we have a consistent public realm,” Wilson said. “This is a 50-year plan, but without a plan, no one can get excited about it.”

The proposal was presented as an information item to Enhance La Jolla and therefore no vote was taken. Learn more at enhancelajolla.org. ◆