La Jolla Shores group backs railing and stairs project at beach access

A new handrail and stairs are proposed for the beach accessway next to The Marine Room in La Jolla Shores.
(Courtesy of Patrick Ahern)

LJSA also calls for more local enforcement of street vending regulations that can be enforced without approval from the California Coastal Commission.


A design concept for a handrail and reconstructed stairs at the beach accessway next to The Marine Room restaurant off Spindrift Drive got unanimous support from the La Jolla Shores Association board July 13.

The repairs, in the works since 2018, are needed to improve dangerous conditions that have resulted in slips and injuries over the years, the project’s supporters say.

A project to add a handrail to an often-slippery beach access next to The Marine Room restaurant in La Jolla Shores has been expanded to include reconstruction of the stairs leading to the beach.

The original plan called for a handrail to be affixed to a neighboring building, but that changed due to liability concerns for the property owner.

The new plan is for a freestanding railing not attached to private property and for a redesign and rebuild of the deteriorating lower stairs, La Jollan Patrick Ahern, the project lead, told LJSA during its virtual meeting.

The stairs redesign, drafted in collaboration with La Jollan Kurt Hoffman, includes elongating some of the steps for safety and ease of use.

The first $100,000 for the project will come via the city of San Diego’s capital improvement projects list according to priority set by City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla.

Ahern said additional funding will come from sources to be determined.

He said he will next try to get other community groups to approve the concept and work with the relevant city departments to implement the design.

San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Lt. Lonnie Stephens said it appears the plan would allow enough room for emergency access to the beach.

Five days after the LJSA meeting, the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee voted unanimously to also support the project.

Other LJSA news

Sidewalk vending: LJSA unanimously approved sending a letter to the California Coastal Commission voicing complaints about a lack of enforcement of sidewalk vending regulations that currently can be enforced.

The letter was written with the La Jolla Parks & Beaches group and the La Jolla Community Planning Association, according to LJSA President Janie Emerson.

A San Diego ordinance to regulate and restrict sidewalk vending went into effect June 22 in most of the city, but many of its components that center largely on where vendors can operate cannot be enforced in the coastal zone, including La Jolla, until they are approved by the Coastal Commission. It is uncertain when that might happen.

As the city of San Diego waits for the California Coastal Commission to clear its sidewalk vending ordinance to take full effect in coastal areas, La Jolla residents likely will have another summer with vendors in area parks.

LaCava’s field representative Steve Hadley said the councilman has asked San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria “to enforce whatever laws can be enforced at this time,” such as accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act and county regulations for food handling, which are not under the purview of the Coastal Commission.

Permit requirements and penalties for violating health and safety rules — including selling prohibited items such as alcohol or firearms — also are in effect.

Hadley said the delay in Coastal Commission review “is creating all sorts of confusion and havoc” for vendors and city officials.

“That’s just what we’re stuck with being in the coastal zone,” he said.

Hadley said extra police officers were pulled from other divisions into La Jolla for the Fourth of July weekend to educate vendors and check permits, resulting in many vendors not operating locally over the holiday.

Emerson said the increased police presence helped. “The key to all of this is enforcement,” she said.

Hadley said the extra officers have since returned to their usual posts, and some LJSA board members said more vendors have reappeared.

San Diego police Lt. Rick Aguilar said the Northern Division, which includes La Jolla, is drafting a plan to repeat the increased police presence in La Jolla over Labor Day weekend Sept. 2-5.

San Diego police are gearing up for Labor Day crowds, like these at La Jolla Shores in 2019.
San Diego police are gearing up for Labor Day crowds, like these at La Jolla Shores in 2019.
(K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Safety: The Independence Day holiday was a “very successful weekend,” with no serious incidents reported in any beach communities, according to Aguilar.

Stephens said collaboration between the Police and Fire-Rescue departments “kept a lot of beach-goers safe.”

Aguilar cautioned swimmers, surfers and scuba divers against leaving their keys on top of their car tires when they head into the water. “We’ve been getting a lot of vehicle thefts and property taken from vehicles,” he said.

K-rail at Hillel Center: A K-rail barrier will be installed along La Jolla Scenic Drive North on the east side of the construction for the Beverly and Joseph Glickman Hillel Center, Hadley said.

The city is requiring the barrier following concerns about pedestrian safety. Some people who go to the nearby UC San Diego campus on foot or by bike have complained about lengthy detours and the absence of a sidewalk along the route after a pedestrian throughway at Cliffridge Avenue and La Jolla Scenic Drive North was closed because of the construction.

It’s unknown when the K-rail will be installed.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Shores Association next meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 10, online. Learn more at


1:30 p.m. July 19, 2022: This article was updated with the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee vote on the handrail and stairs project.