Recent landscape maintenance at La Jolla medians doesn’t satisfy residents who want to see work reports

Aztec Landscaping employees tended to the medians at "The Throat" in La Jolla on May 19.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

More than two weeks after the city of San Diego committed to greater supervision of a maintenance contract for the medians near the intersection of La Jolla Parkway, Torrey Pines Road and Hidden Valley Road — known as “The Throat” — some La Jolla residents are concerned that they haven’t seen expected reports from the contractor.

The city of San Diego has agreed to take steps to make sure that care for the medians at the intersection of La Jolla Parkway, Torrey Pines Road and Hidden Valley Road — known to La Jollans as “The Throat” — is carried out.

Aztec Landscaping, based in Lemon Grove, has a $41,000 annual contract with the city to maintain several medians at The Throat. The maintenance is paid for by gas taxes.

One of the medians is a triangle for which local Rotarians made a one-time $17,000 donation for landscaping in 2018.

Following months of complaints about the appearance of the medians and claims that Aztec had not been maintaining them, Aztec trucks and employees were seen April 28 tending to the medians. The contract requires irrigation inspection, pruning, and litter and weed removal every two weeks.

Workers were seen again three weeks later, May 19, tending to all the medians at The Throat. However, La Jolla architect and urbanist Trace Wilson — one of those who had complained — said it appeared that only the bird of paradise plants were trimmed, without attention to much else.

Some La Jollans say the maintenance on the medians at "The Throat" is not good enough.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Aztec has been asked to submit detailed reports to the city about its biweekly visits.

On May 6, San Diego Parks & Recreation Department representative Steve Lucas said it had been “a couple of months” since such a report had been sent to the department.

But city spokesman Tim Graham said May 24 that he could confirm that Aztec had worked at the site April 28 and May 5, 11, 12 and 19.

“The city has been receiving regular inspection sheets from Aztec Landscaping and will complete a quarterly review of the contractor’s performance in approximately three months” from May 6, Graham said.

Still, La Jolla Shores Association President Janie Emerson said May 23 that “we have requested copies of [the reports] for over a month and none of those have been forthcoming” from Aztec or the city.

Aztec co-founder Rafael Aguilar did not return a message seeking comment, but last month he told the La Jolla Light that his crews have been onsite every two weeks as specified and that he is willing to increase services if the contract is updated.

If the city increased the frequency with which Aztec is at the site, the “result would be a better-looking median,” Aguilar said.

Enhance La Jolla President Ed Witt said The Throat does look better after the recent median maintenance but added that “taxpayers deserve to see all reports Aztec was to send the city.”

Wilson said the issue points to a need for La Jolla to secede from San Diego and become a city.

Should La Jolla try to become an independent city? Take our poll.

A group of La Jollans has been meeting to explore advancing the process on cityhood, which would require majority votes from La Jolla residents and the rest of San Diego.

The “forward path is the city of La Jolla, where we can do the best for all of S.D., the county, state and international leaders,” Wilson said. ◆