La Jolla traffic board adds its support for permanent outdoor dining in The Shores

La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board members and others meet June 15 online.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board unanimously approved a request to send a letter to the California Coastal Commission in support of making the La Jolla Shores outdoor dining program permanent.

The request, made during the board’s virtual meeting June 15, came from Janie Emerson, president of the La Jolla Shores Association, which voted June 8 to send a similar letter.

The outdoor dining program, shepherded by LJSA member Phil Wise and currently supported by the La Jolla Shores Business Association, has closed one block of Avenida de la Playa to vehicle traffic for restaurant use during certain hours since July 2020.

“This particular block has been so successful that we really want to keep it going,” Emerson said.

That program and others throughout San Diego that are using public property for outdoor business operations are running on temporary permits that expire Wednesday, July 13.

The city is encouraging restaurants to apply for a replacement program known as “Spaces as Places,” but those in coastal areas such as La Jolla won’t be approved until the California Coastal Commission weighs in.

Spaces as Places, which the City Council approved in October, is an ordinance containing regulations to transition temporary outdoor eating and drinking spaces to permanent.

The program can’t take effect in the coastal zone until the ordinance is reviewed and certified by the Coastal Commission because it requires a change to Local Coastal Programs, which serve as planning documents for coastal communities. That review has not yet been scheduled. The commission’s next meeting is set for July 13-15.

Coastal Commission concerns typically include parking and beach access restrictions, and the Avenida de la Playa closure does not affect beach access, Emerson said.

To address parking loss in the closed portion, Emerson said Shores representatives have been discussing with San Diego officials the possibility of restriping two blocks on Avenida de la Playa north of the closure area from parallel to angled spaces to increase parking.

“The loss of parking is always a concern,” T&T Chairman Brian Earley said. “But the value of this promenade [is] groundbreaking for the community of La Jolla.”

T&T board member Nancy Warwick supported making The Shores outdoor dining permanent but asked that the wording of the letter be altered slightly to indicate “we’re not endorsing Spaces as Places in general, but we’re very, very specific to this one location.”

The letter next will go to the La Jolla Community Planning Association in July for approval.

Other T&T news

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

Welcome sign: The T&T Board unanimously supported a design concept for a La Jolla welcome sign recently endorsed by the La Jolla Shores Association. The sign would be funded by the Rotary Club of La Jolla and is proposed for the triangular median at the intersection of La Jolla Shores Drive and Torrey Pines Road.

The sign would help spruce up the median and orient people entering La Jolla from La Jolla Parkway or Torrey Pines Road, said its designer, La Jolla architect and urbanist Trace Wilson.

The sign 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.

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 design went through many iterations as feedback was collected from LJSA members.

“We’re very excited about it,” Emerson said. “We think this would be wonderful.”

La Jollan Kate Adams said: “I think everything they’re proposing is fabulous. … I’m encouraged by a charitable group of local people doing something that will benefit the rest of us who live in this community.”

Some T&T members expressed worry about graffiti or that tourists may create traffic hazards trying to take photos with the sign. Wilson said details will be worked out as the design moves forward.

The board also is told that San Diego’s newly approved 2022-23 budget includes $1 million for repaving all of Via Capri.

June 17, 2022

Next meeting: The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board next meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 20, online or at a location to be determined. To learn more, email