La Jolla Shores safety updates: streetlights, Via Capri, roundabout, break-ins, Hillside Drive, beach fires
Though electrical crews “are pretty motivated” to fix La Jolla Shores’ darkened streetlights, La Jolla is full of old wiring that is often the problem instead of burned-out bulbs, San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava told the La Jolla Shores Association.
The lights were among several persistent safety concerns the association discussed during its Feb. 9 virtual meeting, among them road conditions, business break-ins and beach fires.
LJSA board member Charlie Brown said he surveyed the streetlights on La Jolla Shores Drive and Paseo del Ocaso on Feb. 1 and 8 and determined that of 31 lights, 18 were not working.
City spokesman Anthony Santacroce told the La Jolla Light last week that the streetlights in that area are part of an ongoing project to place power lines underground and that the city “continues to work through the intricate job of replacing and updating old underground infrastructure that will illuminate these lights.”
Brown said at the LJSA meeting that in speaking with city crews working on the lights, he learned that “all the lights are so old, they can’t get replacement bulbs for them now.”
LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said the city “can’t hire enough electricians to get out there and do the work,” compounding the problem.
LJSA board member Brian Earley said “having 18 out of 31 streetlights in one of the most pedestrian-heavy areas of San Diego is really unacceptable.”
LaCava field representative Steve Hadley said the electrical team will continue to work on the lights where Brown discovered outages, then move to the boardwalk at The Shores and return to La Jolla a few months later to work on lights that are out in The Village and Bird Rock.
Hadley said fixing the problem will take some time, as workers must “assess what needs to be done, [then] go back and create work orders for an actual crew to come out and do it.”
Following news that La Jolla Parkway will be resurfaced as part of the city’s “Sexy Streets” program, several residents have said Via Capri is in need of repaving as well.
Gerald Leib, who lives near Via Capri and drives it twice daily for work, told the Light last week that the “cement is crumbling in three sections” and that he has been complaining to city officials about the road’s condition for four years.
He said he has seen cars cross the double yellow line to avoid potholes and other damaged spots.
“It’s very dangerous,” Leib said. “Nobody’s doing anything about it. It doesn’t make sense.”
At the LJSA meeting, Hadley said “we keep asking for some repairs, especially in the concrete portion.”
LaCava said “there is funding for Via Capri on the asphalt sections,” but added that those aren’t the portions that need repair.
He also said the city wants to invest in slurry seal for streets that are “looking pretty good to prolong the life,” but he agreed that that aim doesn’t make sense when other streets are “so, so bad.”
Earley, who also is chairman of the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board, said he would work to put a review of Via Capri on a future T&T agenda.
Roundabout and crosswalks
LaCava said the idea of a roundabout at the intersection of Vallecitos and La Jolla Shores Drive “is dead dead.”
The proposal was added to LJSA’s list of requested capital improvement projects in October.
Instead, LaCava said, crosswalks and flashing pedestrian beacons are in the works for La Jolla Shores Drive, with completion scheduled for early 2023.
“Hopefully that will make that safer for everybody,” he said.
The request for a roundabout came after a June traffic accident at La Jolla Shores Drive and Vallecitos injured two children and their mother who were walking there. Subsequent discussions about traffic safety prompted LJSA to ask the city for improved pedestrian crossing striping and lights.
Recent break-ins at stores in the La Jolla Shores business district are prompting some board members to look into private security.
Trustee Sharon Luscomb said her bike and kayak businesses were broken into Dec. 29 and Feb. 1, respectively. “I don’t think I’ll be the last business to get robbed down here,” she said.
Board member Terry Kraszewski said she and other business owners “are talking about hiring a security guard at night,” since the break-ins often are occurring between midnight and 2 a.m. “Everyone is for it.”
In an attempt to prevent large trucks from becoming stuck on the steep incline of Hillside Drive at Torrey Pines Road, LaCava said “the city has designed a solution.”
A regrade of Hillside Drive is coming, he said, perhaps starting in March and completed before Memorial Day weekend in late May.
“Keep your fingers crossed,” he said. “I hope they’ve got a good design that will at least alleviate 90 percent of the problems we see with trucks getting stuck.”
LaCava, who is chairman of the City Council’s Environment Committee, said he will “be bringing some changes in the regulations of beach fires.”
Several La Jolla residents and members of community groups have complained about fires being built in the sand rather than in containers.
LJSA board member Andi Andreae is among those who have advocated eliminating wood and charcoal fires from local beaches due to the smoke they cause. He also has spoken out about fires created outside city-provided rings, as they pose a safety hazard when coals and other materials are not extinguished and disposed of properly.
Andreae encouraged the San Diego Police Department “to look at the beach after sunset and make sure that all the fires that are there are in legal containers.”
SDPD Community Relations Officer Ariel Del Toro said the department has “been hiring overtime personnel for that specific reason.”
Lt. Lonnie Stephens of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department encouraged beach-goers to always swim near a lifeguard for supervision.
He said lifeguard towers open at 9 a.m. and close just after sunset.
Stephens said registration for the city’s Junior Lifeguard program opens Saturday, March 5. Details are at sandiego.gov/lifeguards.
Next meeting: The La Jolla Shores Association next meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, online or at a location to be determined. Learn more at lajollashoresassociation.org. ◆
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