La Jolla Shores PRC supports redesign of Spindrift beach access

The current condition of the Spindrift Drive beach access, including the drop at the end when the sand recedes.
The current condition of the Spindrift Drive beach access in La Jolla Shores, including the drop at the end when the sand recedes.
(Courtesy of Kurt Hoffman)

Less than a week after the La Jolla Shores Association supported adjustments to the design for a handrail and reconstructed stairs at the beach accessway next to The Marine Room restaurant off Spindrift Drive, the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee followed suit at its Aug. 15 meeting.

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

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

The most recent plan calls for a freestanding railing not attached to private property and for a redesign and rebuild of the deteriorating lower stairs.

The redesign, a collaboration of La Jollans Patrick Ahern and Kurt Hoffman, will continue the stairs at the corner of a residence on the left side of the access and add a railing.

“The whole thing we are trying to do is make this safer and easier for people,” Hoffman said. “We know this started with a slippery upper ramp, so by putting in steps and runs, we believe that will satisfy everyone’s concerns … and make this a better descent down for wagons or [those carrying] a kayak. We want to make this a workable ramp for everyone.”

The beach access redesign for stairs and a railing at Spindrift Drive in La Jolla has been adjusted slightly.
The beach access redesign for stairs and a railing at Spindrift Drive in La Jolla has been adjusted slightly.
(Courtesy of Patrick Ahern)

With no public comments in opposition, the Shores PRC unanimously approved a motion to support the project.

“This is the type of community work that we should see; it’s just great,” said PRC Chairman Andy Fotsch.

The project now will proceed to the La Jolla Community Planning Association.

The first $100,000 for the proposal 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. Additional funding is to come from sources to be determined.

Other Shores PRC news

“Trash fences”: The PRC approved plans for two “trash fences” after learning they would be largely shrouded from public view.

The project calls for installing a fence in front of two storm drain inlets near 2898 Torrey Pines Road and another near 2075 Soledad Ave. The fences are designed to catch debris before it reaches downstream pipes and area beaches.

At the Soledad Avenue site, the fence is proposed to be 15 feet wide and 4 feet tall, held in place by four concrete-secured posts. At the Torrey Pines Road site, the fence would be 10 feet wide and 2 feet tall.

Ashley Dulaney, assistant planner with the San Diego Stormwater Department, said the city would use “standard design” for the fences to be like others already in place.

She said the Torrey Pines Road location is “down the slope a bit” and that the fence would be “obscured by shrubs and trees and the slope.”

The Soledad Avenue location would be in a small canyon behind a home. “The residence itself is barely visible from the street, and the fence would be located behind the residence, so it would also be completely obstructed from public access,” Dulaney said.

No equipment would be driven into the canyon “tearing up vegetation,” Dulaney said, and work would be done by hand to minimize biological impacts.

Dulaney said the new fences would be added to the city’s regular inspection and maintenance schedule. “They will be maintained at the start of the rainy season, typically September and October, at a minimum,” she said.

Should additional maintenance be needed, she advocated using the city’s Get It Done app to report it. Complaints are “typically addressed in a few days,” she said.

Nevertheless, Shores PRC trustee Janie Emerson said her “biggest concern is ongoing maintenance, because the city’s track record on that is not good.”

In the end, a motion to support installation of the trash fences passed unanimously.

New meeting day? The PRC is considering moving its regular meetings from the third Monday of each month to the third Thursday to provide members more time to prepare for meetings following a weekend. The committee voted to recommend the change but said it would run it past the Community Planning Association — its parent organization — before finalizing the move.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee currently meets at 4 p.m. the third Monday of each month online. Learn more at

— La Jolla Light staff writer Elisabeth Frausto contributed to this report.