La Jolla crime and public safety news: ‘Mushroom House’ graffiti; car crash; dorm death; more

The "Mushroom House" at Black's Beach has been vandalized with graffiti recently.
(Adam Grofcsik)

The abandoned “Mushroom House” on La Jolla’s Black’s Beach has been vandalized recently, with graffiti sprayed on the beach-facing exterior wall and interior spaces, and a local resident is looking to do something about it.

Adam Grofcsik, who often runs on Black’s Beach, said the markings on the architecturally unique house are “looking pretty gross.”

He said he would be willing to organize an effort to clean up the graffiti if he can get the proper permission, and he has been in touch with nearby UC San Diego to try to determine who would grant that permission. The house is owned by an unidentified “San Diego philanthropist,” according to the city.

“That house is an icon in San Diego, so it was disturbing to see it all sprayed up,” Grofcsik said. “I want to get something going, be a good citizen.”

The house, also known as Bell’s Pavilion, was designed and built by architect Dale Naegle in the 1960s as a guest house for Sam Bell of Bell’s Potato Chips and General Mills. Bell reportedly wanted a structure that could withstand waves, rock slides and earthquakes. The property has a private tramway to transport guests 300 feet almost straight down the bluff from a main house at 9044 La Jolla Shores Lane.

Car crash on Torrey Pines Road triggers safety complaints

A car crash on Torrey Pines Road spurred nearby residents and community planning groups to call for safety improvements on the La Jolla thoroughfare.

Resident Dan Courtney said the crash occurred the night of Jan. 23 when a car struck a retaining wall on Torrey Pines Road at Calle Juela and the gas tank ignited, causing “20-foot flames” that damaged his fence and other property. No one was reported injured.

Burn marks indicate where a car crashed into a retaining wall and burst into flames on Torrey Pines Road at Calle Juela.
Burnt foliage, signage and fencing mark where a car crashed into a retaining wall and burst into flames on Torrey Pines Road at Calle Juela on Jan. 23.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Afterward, other nearby residents took their concerns about the safety of Torrey Pines Road to the La Jolla Community Planning Association’s Feb. 3 meeting.

Kate Adams said she heard the crash, which she called “the loudest ... most horrible sound,” and saw the car “burst into flames that were more than two stories tall.”

“It was someone speeding,” Adams said. “This is indicative of the fact there is no police presence or speeding control. No one is trying to slow cars or monitor what is happening on Torrey Pines Road. It has become a racing thoroughfare.”

William Lynch agreed: “The speeding on Torrey Pines Road is getting out of hand. It’s noisy, it’s not safe and it’s unattractive. ... There needs to be something done.”

The issue was referred to the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board for review and possible action. The board will meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16, online. Learn more at

UCSD freshman who fell to his death from dorm was intoxicated, ME says

A UC San Diego freshman who died after he fell out of an eighth-floor bathroom window of a campus dormitory late Oct. 22 had a blood-alcohol level of 0.27 percent, more than three times the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle in California, according to an autopsy report by the San Diego County medical examiner’s office.

The report also states that Aaron Fan, 18, tested “presumptive positive” for cannabinoids, which are substances found in the cannabis plant. But there was no determination as to whether he used marijuana in the hours or days before he died.

Fan’s death has been ruled an accident. — The San Diego Union-Tribune

Coronavirus by the numbers

The San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency posts an updated list of coronavirus cases by ZIP code, including rates per 100,000 residents. Through Feb. 1, ZIP code 92037 (estimated population 43,400) had a total of 5,041 registered cases (up by 174 from the previous count) and 11,646.1 per 100,000. ZIP code is the code of residence, which may not be the location of exposure.

The county also posts a list by ZIP code of the number of residents who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Through Feb. 1, 41,113 residents of the 92037 ZIP code had received a vaccine.

Police blotter

Further details were unavailable from San Diego police.

Jan. 30

Petty theft: 800 block Prospect Street, 4 a.m.

Jan. 31

Commercial burglary: 7800 block Ivanhoe Avenue, 5 p.m.

Petty theft: 5400 block La Jolla Boulevard, 7 p.m.

Driving under the influence (alcohol): 3800 block Torrey Pines Road, 7:33 p.m.

Feb. 1

Commercial burglary: 2200 block Avenida de la Playa, 2:46 a.m.

Felony grand theft: 5500 block La Jolla Boulevard, 8:30 a.m.

Felony vehicle theft: 8500 block El Paseo Grande, 4:20 p.m.

Feb. 2

Vehicle break-in/theft: 7400 block Draper Avenue, 3:35 a.m.

Commercial burglary: 6800 block La Jolla Boulevard, 5 a.m.

Feb. 3

Threatening crime with intent to terrorize: 5500 block Chelsea Avenue, 2 p.m.

Vehicle break-in/theft: 8500 block La Jolla Shores Drive, 5:05 p.m.

Felony grand theft: 7500 block Girard Avenue, 5:53 p.m.

Feb. 4

Vehicle break-in/theft: 7900 block La Jolla Shores Drive, 4:50 p.m.

Residential burglary: 6100 block La Jolla Boulevard, 5:20 p.m.

Feb. 5

Drunk in public: 2400 block Torrey Pines Road, 2:38 a.m.

Feb. 6

Driving under the influence (alcohol): 7500 block Country Club Drive, 12:08 a.m.

Felony grand theft: 9500 block La Jolla Shores Drive, 10 p.m.

Feb. 7

Simple battery: 7300 block Girard Avenue, 4 p.m. ◆