A ‘movement of beautification’: Traffic board hears ideas to revamp La Jolla Cultural District

A rendering shows a concept to rework the La Jolla Cultural District.
A rendering presented to the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board shows a concept to rework the La Jolla Cultural District from Eads Avenue to La Jolla Boulevard and from Prospect Street to Pearl Street.
(Courtesy of Trace Wilson)

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.

The proposal by La Jolla architect Trace Wilson, heard as a discussion item, would revamp the entire public right of way from Eads Avenue to La Jolla Boulevard and from Prospect Street to Pearl Street.

“It’s really an effort to come up with a more specific plan that allows folks to build the public right-of-way improvements as they develop … so that at the end of the day, we have a cohesive urban environment,” said Wilson, a member of the Village Visioning Committee.

He said the concept is separate from his efforts on plans to renovate the La Jolla Recreation Center on Prospect, but he added that those plans, currently in fundraising, lead “us to want to think about the edges of the Rec Center and how we can continue this movement of beautification.”

The concept involves giving each street in the plan a consistent “street tree pattern” distinct from patterns on the other streets, which would serve as “a good placemaking device” for drivers and pedestrians at various intersections, Wilson said.

Two La Jolla groups are in various stages of creating and implementing streetscape plans for La Jolla.

The design also employs roundabouts at select intersections along with midblock crossings.

“We want to create a beautiful environment that slows traffic, calms traffic and creates a great pedestrian environment,” he said.

The concept features a large roundabout at the intersection of Silverado Street, Prospect Street and Draper Avenue.
(Courtesy of Trace Wilson)

The concept features a large roundabout at the intersection of Silverado Street, Prospect Street and Draper Avenue, which Wilson said might serve as a “beacon” from The Village to the newly renovated Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, which shifted its main entrance to face that intersection.

La Jolla Community Planning Association trustee Kathleen Neil asked Wilson if significant changes would be made to Eads Avenue, which she called “a unique road in the downtown area because it is really our multifamily dwelling area of all price points.” Changes to parking there would create problems for residents, she said.

Wilson agreed and said changes on Eads would “not monkey with it too much but just beautify it.”

T&T Board member Tom Brady said he’d like to push for the roundabout at Silverado and Prospect first, saying that under current conditions, “somebody is going to get killed, either a pedestrian or there’s going to be an auto accident.”

Brian Williams of The Bishop’s School at La Jolla Boulevard and Prospect Street said Wilson’s plan is “absolutely wonderful.” He added that the school would incorporate design elements into its plans to update its exterior and landscaping.

He said “Bishop’s will do what it can to help support” Wilson’s concept.

Other T&T news

Officials from San Diego’s Special Events & Filming Department presented information about their permits, asking the T&T Board to help streamline the process.

Natasha Collura, executive director of the department, said Special Events & Filming provides “a number of event- and film-related production services, including technical systems, [working] with multiple agencies and departments, location scouting and more.”

She said “we cover regulatory public safety, we work to reduce risk and we also ensure that there’s community engagement. Basically, we try to be a one-stop shop for event organizers.”

Collura said a special-events permit is required for events “in the public right of way, as well as events that take place on park property that have complex event components,” such as serving alcohol or involving a road closure or tenting.

More than 50 fees are slated to rise at least 40 percent; the city says higher fees are needed to recover costs.

Brandy Shimabukuro, filming program manager for the department, said filming permits are required for “non-recreational, still photography or film production” on city property, whether for a commercial shoot, reality television or a feature film.

She said the department requires “good-neighbor outreach for any production that is going to have a significant impact to the surrounding community,” such as by taking up parking spaces, closing streets or sidewalks or requiring traffic control.

Such outreach, she said, means garnering support door to door via signatures from every resident and business within a 300-foot radius of the proposed film location, and/or leaving door hangers.

Shimabukuro said she tries to balance permit requests with the needs of each community. La Jolla Shores and The Village “are unique in that parking is at a premium,” she said. “A lot of productions are going to come in with honey wagons, trailers, equipment, grip trucks, that sort of thing. We try to be mindful of that.”

Collura said the Special Events & Filming Department asks that all events requested in La Jolla be approved by the T&T Board. “You are the board that we look to for feedback.”

Justine King, special-events program manager for the department, asked T&T for help in streamlining the process and communicating to applicants who haven’t gone through T&T approval yet.

Collura said a template from the board would be helpful, including how long applicants need to wait to get on the T&T agenda, what steps to take during a T&T presentation, what diagrams would be helpful and where the approval goes next.

T&T Chairman Brian Earley said he would work with King and Collura “to provide some sort of letter … that says who we are, what our processes are. … We want to be an asset to the city.” ◆