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La Jolla traffic board discusses possible standards for street closures for private events

A groom rides a horse during a baraat wedding procession in Pushkar, India.
(File)

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

Looking to standardize criteria for approving street closures and loss of parking spaces caused by local private events, the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board began the process at its meeting June 15.

The discussion of a draft document outlining such criteria followed previous discussions and approvals of two baraat wedding processions.

The first of the processions — which are typical at Indian weddings and feature the groom riding a horse or an elephant to the ceremony while escorted by his family — took place May 30, Memorial Day, a holiday that brings many visitors to La Jolla.

The second baraat is scheduled for Saturday, June 25.

Both proposals called for a short-term street closure in The Village and temporary loss of parking. The previous traffic board discussions, while ultimately resulting in support of the events, raised concerns about disrupting traffic in La Jolla on busy days.

Some suggested banning road closures for private events during the summer. But Rohan Patel, the groom for the June 25 event, told the La Jolla Light that Indian wedding dates are determined according to “Muhurat” time, an auspicious date and time calculated using the couple’s birth dates and times in conjunction with the Hindu calendar.

T&T Chairman Brian Earley presented a draft document to the board June 15 that he said aimed to celebrate the pageantry of these and similar events while minimizing the effect on La Jolla residents and visitors.

The draft incorporated feedback from Natasha Collura of San Diego’s Special Events & Filming Department, which issues permits for short-term street closures.

A central staging area won’t work, Earley said, since event locations will vary. The board considered establishing different routes to accommodate various venues.

The board also agreed to consider working with venues themselves, such as the La Valencia, Cormorant and La Jolla Cove hotels, to determine the best routes and logistics.

The June 25 baraat will close the south-side lane of Coast Boulevard to traffic and parking from 8 to 11 a.m. between Girard Avenue and the La Jolla Cove Hotel & Suites, where the wedding will take place. Coast Boulevard is planned to be closed entirely between Ocean Lane and Girard Avenue for the baraat’s staging area, though use of that area will be restored for parking and traffic as the baraat proceeds toward the wedding site.

The May 30 baraat called for closure of portions of Girard Avenue and Prospect Street for the wedding at the La Valencia Hotel.

T&T Board members also discussed creating a list of days when such events would be blocked, like Memorial Day and seasonal holidays in the fall and winter.

The document also includes the idea of a two-hour maximum for that type of short-term street closure.

Though board members generally expressed support for such a document, others cautioned against being too stringent.

“I just don’t think we need to have [T&T] be considered to be blocking any group, particularly a minority group, from participating in wonderful processions like these wedding processions,” board member Tom Brady said. He added that the events add cultural value to La Jolla.

Earley said the events also add financial value: “Let’s just let’s not forget [these weddings] may have brought tens of thousands of dollars in visitor revenue to our community.”

The suggested criteria will be brought to the T&T Board as an action item in July.

Other T&T news

Via Capri is in need of repair, many La Jolla residents say.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Via Capri: The budget the San Diego City Council approved June 13 for the 2022-23 fiscal year includes $1.08 million for repaving all of La Jolla’s Via Capri, said Steve Hadley, representing the office of Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla.

The street’s condition has been the subject of recent complaints.

Suggested measures to calm traffic along Via Capri won unanimous support this week from the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board following a presentation last month about the road’s dangers.

Some of the road was scheduled for repaving as San Diego Gas & Electric completes a utility undergrounding project there, but LaCava “advocated for all of it to be done,” Hadley said.

The repaving will be done in the next two fiscal years, Hadley said.

Traffic-calming study: Following inquiries about calming traffic on La Jolla Scenic Drive North, city traffic engineers conducted a study to determine whether anything could be done to slow speeding cars, including installing a stop sign at the street’s intersection with Via Posada.

The study indicated that measures such as a stop sign and speed humps could not be implemented on La Jolla Scenic Drive North, though solar-powered signs that indicate how fast a vehicle is going could be, Earley said.

He added that discussions of the issue would continue.

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.

Valet parking: Earley said the board received an inquiry about restarting a valet parking zone at the corner of Wall Street and Girard Avenue in The Village.

The valet zone has been defunct since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the property managers of La Plaza La Jolla at that corner suspended the service in 2020 and parking company Laz did not renew the valet permit, Earley said.

La Plaza La Jolla is now managed by Regent PM Services, and representatives of Laz have reached out to the company about restarting the valet permit to “jump-start that passenger loading zone for valet services in the evening,” Earley said.

“We believe that would be in everybody’s interest in that area,” he said.

Nomination of officers: The T&T Board nominated its current officers to continue for another year: Earley as chairman, Dave Abrams as vice chairman and Donna Aprea as secretary. The nominations were uncontested and will be voted on at the next T&T meeting on Wednesday, July 20. ◆