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Slipshod Shores? Kellogg Park restrooms and trash cans get a cleaning amid complaints and understaffing

Though there have been complaints of overflowing trash cans at Kellogg Park in La Jolla Shores, the coast was clear April 29.
Though in recent weeks there have been complaints of overflowing trash cans at Kellogg Park in La Jolla Shores, the coast was clear April 29.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

After several emails among La Jolla residents, community leaders and city officials about unsanitary conditions of trash receptacles and restrooms at Kellogg Park in The Shores, it appears San Diego city staff has cleaned up the mess, at least for now.

The La Jolla Light observed April 29 that all trash receptacles had been emptied and liner bags replaced, and the south “comfort station” restrooms had been cleaned as well.

Trash receptacles

In emails on which the Light was included as a recipient, resident Jan Hageman asked staff from the city’s Parks & Recreation Department for more and different trash receptacles, saying the existing cans are not sufficient to handle the amount of garbage accumulating daily.

“Your staff has to gather trash that has fallen out, been removed by seagulls or just overflowing on a daily basis,” Hageman wrote. “Some of it blows in the ocean, some gets picked up by the public, the rest gets picked up by your staff. This takes much more time on a daily basis than if we had adequate receptacles.”

Hageman filed a report about the litter April 9 on the city’s Get It Done app.

Vincent Paniagua, grounds maintenance manager for the parks department, responded that the department is short-staffed. “We are getting to all trash every day; it is just taking some time,” he wrote.

“While I agree the staff is working hard, I don’t think the city is working smart,” Hageman replied. “Management has not put enough receptacles in these parks and they overflow.”

Dan Daneri, district manager of shoreline parks for the city, wrote that Paniagua is working to establish an overtime crew to “help cover vacancies and start our evening shifts a month early this year.”

He wrote in another email that his division is working with the city’s Environmental Services Department to implement a recycling program at all shoreline parks.

“We have just received 25 new cans that are going to be installed at South Kellogg as the crew is available to deliver and place them,” Daneri said.

He said new recycling units would be placed next to existing trash cans in Kellogg Park.

He said there are no large recycling bins between La Jolla Shores and Tourmaline Surfing Park to place the recyclable items in, which creates a problem for park staff. He said he is revisiting a request for an additional bin somewhere else in La Jolla.

Daneri told the Light separately that there is no timeline yet for delivery of the new cans.

Comfort station restrooms

Toilets at the south "comfort station" in Kellogg Park were clean on April 29.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

In a different email chain started by La Jolla Shores Association board member Mary Coakley Munk that included city officials, community group members and the Light, she wrote that two visitors asked shop owners on Avenida de la Playa in The Shores if they could change there since “the toilets at the Kellogg Park south comfort station were urine-soaked and disgusting.”

“They couldn’t find one stall that was fit to use,” Coakley Munk wrote.

She implored Parks & Recreation Department Director Andy Field to find solutions. “I’m heartsick that this is the image that people take home with them,” she said. “Our community has donated [so] much time, energy and money to make The Shores a wonderful place … to visit.”

Resident Mike McCormack called this condition "nuts" at the south restroom facility at La Jolla Shores' Kellogg Park.
Resident Mike McCormack called this condition “nuts” at the south restroom facility at La Jolla Shores’ Kellogg Park on April 8.
(Courtesy of Mike McCormack)

Other La Jollans replied with support for Coakley Munk’s statements. LJSA President Janie Emerson wrote that “the health hazards alone require this now.”

“We absolutely must have constant, consistent and vigilant cleaning of these facilities for the health and safety of our visitors and residents,” wrote LJSA board member and local business owner Terry Kraszewski.

Field replied with an apology to all. He said the city is “experiencing a major staffing transition that began with the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’ve seen numerous staff retirements and resignations through that time even into 2022.”

Field said he is combating the shortages with overtime, “but on occasion there will be noticeable issues that arise.”

He encouraged those on the email to reach out to him when issues arise and asked anyone looking for work to go to sandiego.gov/jobs.

“Thank you for your support in helping keep eyes on the park as we rebuild our workforce,” Field said. ◆