La Jolla News Nuggets: New Bird Rock bench, Scripps Park Pavilion opens, LJCPA seeking candidates, more

A new mosaic bench in Bird Rock, titled "Heart Centered Community,” is at 5661 La Jolla Blvd.
A new mosaic bench in Bird Rock, titled “Heart Centered Community,” is at 5661 La Jolla Blvd.
(Courtesy of Pearl Pries)

BRCC adds new community bench

The Bird Rock Community Council recently added a new community bench, titled “Heart Centered Community,” to the Mosaic Benches of Bird Rock beautification series.

The bench, at 5661 La Jolla Blvd., is adorned with mosaic hearts and was commissioned to honor Nic Bureau. Artist Jane Wheeler said it was important for the family to communicate the message of “check in with your heart,” including early cardiovascular heart health and screening, and “check in with our heart to ground ourselves and connect to our inner wisdom.”

For the record:

7:33 p.m. Jan. 28, 2022The item about the Bird Rock community bench has been updated to reflect that Nic Bureau did not used to live in Bird Rock, though his wife, Erica, did.

Those interested in sponsoring a bench or a future beautification project in Bird Rock can email or contact Wheeler at (619) 822-1120 or

Scripps Park Pavilion opens to public; celebration to be held at later date

The long-awaited Scripps Park Pavilion restroom facility had a quiet soft opening Jan. 21, when the fencing came down and the water was turned on.

Steve Hadley, representing the office of San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, told the Enhance La Jolla board during its Jan. 20 meeting that “we’re going to let people use it and see if the plumbing and the showers and everything works when we put a full load of people through there. Then we’ll celebrate the opening.”

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 includes 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.

LJCPA seeking candidates for upcoming election

The La Jolla Community Planning Association is looking for candidates to fill five available seats in its upcoming board election.

Candidates must declare by the close of the Feb. 3 meeting online, when they will be allowed up to two minutes to introduce themselves and give their reasons for running.

The election will be held by mail, with ballots counted the day of the March 3 meeting. To be eligible to run for a seat, candidates must be a Community Planning Association member and must have attended three of LJCPA’s meetings in the 12-month period before the election.

LJCPA has been recognized by the City Council to make recommendations to the council, Planning Commission, city staff and other governmental agencies on land-use matters. Learn more at

World-renowned researcher leaving Salk Institute

After nearly 30 years at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, professor Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a world-renowned researcher credited with pioneering innovations in developmental biology, regenerative medicine and aging research at the Salk Institute, will close his laboratory to join Altos Labs, a newly created life sciences company centered on human health research.

Izpisua Belmonte, who was named one of Time magazine’s “50 Most Influential People in Health Care” for 2018, has pioneered gene-editing technologies, epigenetic editing methods, and regenerative and stem-cell techniques to better understand how to reprogram and rejuvenate diseased cells. Recently, his lab showed how stem-cell therapy might be used to treat Type 1 diabetes and boost muscle regeneration and rebuild tissue. The team also developed a chimeric tool that can integrate human cells into animal tissue in order to examine a host of diseases that are difficult to study by traditional methods.

Planning Commission OKs code changes for planning group reforms

Despite pleas to postpone a vote, the San Diego Planning Commission on Jan. 20 supported making legal changes to city documents associated with proposed community planning group reforms. The group was not tasked with reviewing the proposal itself but the changes that would need to be made to the San Diego municipal code.

The meeting included almost two hours of public testimony, many with questions about the finer points of the proposal and calls for the commission to withhold a vote until those points could be addressed.

Nevertheless, the panel voted unanimously to support the code changes, paving the way for the proposal to proceed to the City Council in coming months.

Commission Chairman William Hoffman suggested that people “give as much input as possible before the City Council meeting. … Get your comments into the council office.”

The reforms are intended to bring community planning group operations in line with the city charter. Major proposed changes would include revising council policies for community planning groups citywide to make them more independent from the city and encourage inclusive participation.

That includes removing meeting attendance requirements for becoming a voting member; imposing new regulations on board makeup to include renters, business owners, homeowners and more; imposing a two-year break in service after someone has termed out of a board; no longer providing city staff to assist with meeting operations and disputes; no longer providing a stipend for community planning group members; no longer waiving appeal fees and more.

Dough Momma Pizzeria announces kids’ pizza design winner

Dani Trejo, 7, and Dough Momma Pizzeria owner Darren Moore show Dani's winning pizza.
(Courtesy of Dough Momma Pizzeria )

Dough Momma Pizzeria in La Jolla Shores has announced the winner of its Kids’ Design Your Own Pizza Contest.

Dani Trejo, 7, won the contest with his pizza that features grilled carne asada, refried bean sauce, mozzarella cheese, red onions, jalapenos and cilantro. He won a pizza party for his family, and his creation is now featured on Dough Momma’s menu.

Dough Momma chose the winner from entries submitted by local schools and families of ConnectMed, a nonprofit that secures ongoing care for children with physical differences from birth defects or traumas.

Through Feb. 14, customers ordering from Dough Momma online can round up their bill to donate to ConnectMed.

La Jolla firm nabs $75 million for specialized microscopes

ONI, a spin-off of Oxford University that recently moved its headquarters to La Jolla, said it has raised $75 million in a second round of venture funding for technology that allows drug developers to observe single molecules on living cells.

The company makes the Nanoimager microscopy platform. It helps academic researchers, pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology firms create more effective and targeted therapies by allowing them to zoom in on complex cell structures down to 10 nanometers. By comparison, a human hair is 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers wide.

In addition, ONI’s device is the size of a toaster. Other super-resolution microscopy tools can take up an entire room, according to the company.

About 120 of ONI’s Nanoimagers are used in labs today. — The San Diego Union-Tribune

UC San Diego discovers driving force of huge cyclones on Jupiter

Shortly after entering orbit around Jupiter in 2016, the spacecraft Juno captured images of huge cyclones whirling in geometric patterns at the planet’s poles, an unexpected finding that dazzled scientists.

Jupiter’s poles cannot be seen clearly from Earth. The existence of the cyclones was discovered when Juno became the first probe to go into polar orbit around the gas giant.

A new study led by UC San Diego reveals another surprise: The cyclones are sustained by moist convection, the term for water vapor that rises and turns into a cloud. It’s very similar to the process that feeds cyclones on Earth, a starkly different world.

Earth has land. Jupiter does not. Earth has oceans composed of water. Jupiter has what scientists describe as a large ocean composed of hydrogen.

Even so, “the turbulence we see on Jupiter looks just like what we see here,” said Lia Siegelman, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. She is the lead author on a Jan. 10 paper in the journal Nature Physics that describes the phenomenon.

“It’s quite fascinating to see something like this on a planet that is so far away,” Siegelman said. Jupiter currently is more than 530 million miles from Earth. — The San Diego Union-Tribune

St. James by-the-Sea white elephant sale postponed

The 90th annual white elephant sale at St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in La Jolla has been postponed due to the current surge of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The sale had been scheduled for Feb. 11-13.

St. James will no longer accept donations until a new date has been determined. Donors are asked to hold donations until collection resumes.

Monetary contributions can be made at For more information, email

Compiled by La Jolla Light staff