La Jolla Shores board OKs working group to dig into sprucing up ‘The Throat’

Medians in "The Throat" have deteriorated, La Jolla architect Trace Wilson says.
(Courtesy of Trace Wilson)

Seeking to beautify the area of La Jolla known as “The Throat,” the La Jolla Shores Association unanimously approved formation of a working group to determine how to proceed.

The Throat — the intersection of La Jolla Parkway, Torrey Pines Road and Hidden Valley Road — is seen by many as the main entrance to La Jolla and is one of the only landscaped areas in the public right of way, La Jolla architect Trace Wilson said during the Shores Association’s April 13 meeting.

“It has really deteriorated,” he said.

Wilson is a member of the Village Visioning Committee, which aims to provide a comprehensive master plan for the public right of way, street trees, traffic mitigation and more in La Jolla’s Village and surrounding areas.

Wilson said he and Steve Hadley, field representative for San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, along with La Jolla Rotary Club President Cindy Goodman and others, recently walked the site and decided to work to figure out how to improve the area, which falls within The Shores.

The Throat includes several medians, one of which is a triangle for which the Rotarians donated money for landscaping years ago.

“They want to make it better,” said Wilson, who added that he’d like to see an entry sign welcoming visitors to La Jolla.

Showing a map of The Throat, Wilson said the medians indicated in red are “gas tax medians,” meaning their maintenance is paid for by gas taxes.

The portions of "The Throat" in red are medians that need re-landscaping, according to local architect Trace Wilson.
The portions of “The Throat” indicated in red are medians that need re-landscaping, according to local architect Trace Wilson.
(Courtesy of Trace Wilson)

Ed Witt, board chairman of Enhance La Jolla, which administers the La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District, said “the taxpayers are paying a lot of money annually to a company called Aztec Landscaping,” which is contracted by the city to maintain the medians.

“My personal opinion is, I have no confidence at all that Aztec is doing what it’s been paid to do,” Witt said. “The place really looks like junk.”

Aztec Landscaping did not respond to a request for comment.

Noting that La Jolla Parkway is slated for repaving later this year as part of San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s “Sexy Streets” initiative, Wilson said a “sexy street also is a beautiful street, with beautiful ... and maintained landscapes.”

Since Enhance La Jolla is able to go into public right of ways to maintain them, LJSA President Janie Emerson said she, Wilson, Witt and others are working to determine what the landscape company is responsible for and where.

She added that the working group would then define what remains to be done and come up with a plan.

Emerson said residents along Ardath Road in the Azure Coast community, which faces La Jolla Parkway, have complained that their medians are in “terrible shape,” with residents doing some landscape work themselves.

Emerson said Azure Coast residents would like to be included in efforts to re-landscape The Throat.

Other LJSA news

Cliffridge Park beautification: Wilson said Phase 1 of a project to beautify Cliffridge Park is complete and said ideas for Phase 2 are in development.

Phase 1, which was privately funded, included re-landscaping “what we call the front door at the [Cliffridge Avenue] cul-de-sac” with new plants, mulch, boulders and a new storage container for La Jolla Youth Baseball’s equipment, Wilson said.

Flagpoles bearing the U.S., California and baseball league flags also will be installed, he said.

Phase 2 will aim to improve the walkway to La Jolla Youth Baseball’s Shetland and Pony fields, Wilson said, along with a path to “get folks safely from the upper shared parking lot with Torrey Pines Elementary School. We have a lot of grandparents and parents and kids that walk down this path, and we’re working directly with [school Principal] Nona Richard [and city officials] to come up with a plan to better this area.”

Wilson said the park’s conditions have not improved “since I played baseball down there in 1975.”

La Jolla Cove 10 Mile Relay: LJSA unanimously gave support to the 2022 installment of the La Jolla Cove 10 Mile Relay, which is set to begin at 7 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 25, at La Jolla Shores.

As it did in 2021, the swimming event will feature a 1-mile triangular loop route. Teams of up to five swimmers each will take on the ocean course, one swimmer for one mile at a time.

Solo swimmers also will participate.

The La Jolla Cove 10 Mile Relay swim will feature a 1-mile triangular loop route starting at La Jolla Shores.
(Courtesy of Tom Hecker)

Event organizers Tom Hecker and John Heffner have spearheaded the relay since 2010, when they took over for Pete Stafford and Dale Larabie, who originated the relay in 2000.

The event typically has begun at La Jolla Cove, but “the size of the group has grown beyond [the capacity of] The Cove for safety reasons,” Hecker said. “You can only pack so many people down on The Cove beach, and the lifeguards object.”

He said he is seeking to hold the event at The Shores from now on, as there is more space.

Hecker said he expects more than 500 people to attend, setting up canopies on the beach but taking up very little space in adjacent Kellogg Park.

“The only involvement of people in the park is the use of the showers and the restrooms and then also the added restrooms that we contract,” he said.

LJSA board member John Shannon said the event “is a great thing for La Jolla Shores.” ◆