‘Welcome to La Jolla’: Shores group backs concept for sign at median in ‘The Throat’

This proposed "Welcome to La Jolla" sign would be at the triangular median at La Jolla Shores Drive and Torrey Pines Road.
(Courtesy of Trace Wilson)

A concept for a “Welcome to La Jolla” sign got unanimous support from the La Jolla Shores Association board during its May 11 meeting.

The sign, intended for the triangular median at the intersection of La Jolla Shores Drive and Torrey Pines Road, was presented by local architect and urbanist Trace Wilson, a member of the Village Visioning Committee of the La Jolla Community Planning Association who has presented improvement proposals for various neighborhoods as part of the committee’s effort to provide a comprehensive master plan for La Jolla.

The median is one of several at “The Throat” — the area of La Jolla Parkway and Torrey Pines Road — where maintenance is funded by gas taxes.

The city of San Diego has a contract with Aztec Landscaping of Lemon Grove to inspect irrigation, remove litter and weeds, and prune shrubs and ground cover every two weeks. But community leaders have complained recently that the maintenance hadn’t been done, and they worked with the city to try to improve performance and accountability.

The northwest triangle — dubbed the “Rotary Triangle” because Rotary Club of La Jolla donated $17,000 to the city for maintenance in 2018 — is “anemic,” Rotary President Cindy Goodman said, citing empty spaces where plants died, were removed and never replaced.

“They’re all essentially gone,” Wilson said. “But we’re looking forward.”

The welcome sign concept, which has gone through several iterations, features “Welcome to La Jolla California” on a green screen with the Rotary emblem in the lower left corner. The sign would be fronted by bougainvillea plants, flanked by blooming trees and illuminated at night.

La Jolla Village Merchants Association Executive Director Jodi Rudick said she has applied for a Neighborhood Reinvestment Program grant, which carries a maximum award of $40,000, to be used to help fund a directional, or wayfinding, sign program that would include a large La Jolla monument sign at the Torrey Pines Road/La Jolla Shores Drive median.

As part of its annual strategic plan, the La Jolla Village Merchants Association is exploring ways to bring in revenue and looking at meaningful ways to spend it.

Wilson said the median is a prime spot for a welcome sign, “even though this isn’t truly the entry to La Jolla.”

“It’s actually where folks find themselves the most in a vehicle ... stopped and sort of looking at this triangle,” he said.

Wilson said he wants to eventually place similar signage at Turquoise Street and La Jolla Boulevard “to bracket La Jolla,” along with signs in some La Jolla neighborhoods, such as Bird Rock and La Jolla Shores.

Cliffridge Park

Phase 2 of a plan to beautify Cliffridge Park would create safer walkways and improve landscaping.
(Courtesy of Trace Wilson)

Wilson also presented Phase 2 of a concept to improve Cliffridge Park in the 8300 block of Cliffridge Avenue.

Phase 1 is complete, including re-landscaping the Cliffridge Avenue entrance to the park and installing new flags, La Jolla Youth Baseball banners and a new storage container with graphics.

Phase 2 will consist of improving the walkway to La Jolla Youth Baseball’s Shetland and Pony fields, Wilson said. Currently, the pathway is “very run-down ... [and] enhancing this entire area [will] make it safer and better for everyone.”

Wilson said he is creating a gateway from the shared-use parking lot with stairs and a ramp leading to the lower level with added landscaping.

He said he’s also considering an area for younger siblings of baseball players to entertain themselves.

Both phases have been designed and carried out in partnership with the baseball league, the San Diego Parks & Recreation Department and the San Diego Unified School District, which owns part of the land.

Nona Richard, principal of adjacent Torrey Pines Elementary School, said “this is just a great need. … The idea of having safe walkways for older families [and] younger children is really exciting.”

Both phases are funded through donations by people connected to the baseball league, Wilson said. “It’s really a community effort, and I just truly want to applaud everyone that’s coming together to do this.”

Phases 1 and 2 are among three initiatives Wilson is spearheading to help beautify the area. The third is a plan to plant trees on the north side of Cliffridge Avenue from Scenic Place west to the end of the cul-de-sac.

Wilson has proposed placing jacaranda trees in the grassy areas fronting and belonging to Torrey Pines Elementary to mirror the jacarandas planted five years ago on the south side of Cliffridge Avenue by the Dan McKinney Family YMCA on its property.

Wilson said planning for the trees project is continuing. ◆