Scripps Park picnic grove work beginning in La Jolla

Alexandra Corsi, Andy Field, Ann Lipschitz, Joe LaCava, Bob Evans and Brian Malk at the Scripps Park picnic grove site
La Jolla Parks & Beaches trustee Alexandra Corsi, San Diego Parks & Recreation Department Director Andy Field, Selma Malk’s daughter, Ann Lipschitz, San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, LJP&B President Bob Evans and Malk’s son, Brian Malk, show samples of the soil paving that will be used for the Scripps Park picnic grove project.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

A ceremony launches the 45 working days to renovate a picnic area in the park.


After a slow year and a half, progress on Scripps Park’s picnic grove project has gone into overdrive. With needed permits in hand and more than $71,000 available, a ceremony was held Sept. 29 in La Jolla to launch the 45 working days to renovate a picnic area in the park.

The project, which was started in March 2021, involves relocating existing tables, improving access for people with disabilities, replacing a dying tree and layering the ground cover with a paving material called GraniteCrete.

With an early donation from the Malk family, the development was originally intended to be named the Selma Malk Picnic Grove in honor of the late longtime resident of La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel. But the plans have changed. Now, a plaque honoring Malk will be placed at the site.

At the work launch ceremony, San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said the project is “a fitting tribute” to Malk that La Jollans, San Diegans and tourists will enjoy once it is completed. He said he is thankful for the philanthropy of the Malk family and the collaboration between the La Jolla Parks & Beaches group and the San Diego Department of Parks & Recreation to “bring the magic to make La Jolla a better place for everybody.”

Malk’s daughter, Ann Lipschitz, said “this is the most special moment for me. My mother … would be so happy.”

Malk lived at the La Valencia for 32 years and volunteered at the Birch Aquarium and Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla and the Mingei International Museum in San Diego’s Balboa Park. She died in La Jolla in 2017 at age 103.

La Jolla Parks & Beaches trustee and project leader Alexandra Corsi spoke at the Sept. 26 LJP&B meeting about the progress that has been made since last year.

At the onset, a concept plan was drafted and meetings were held with city staff to obtain a right-of-entry permit and make sure the project was in line with the city’s terms and within budget. The project, with an initial price tag of $25,000, was expected to be finished in fall 2021.

“Back then, I said that was not accurate and knew it was not going to happen,” Corsi said, citing increases in prevailing wages and the cost of supplies.

More than $66,000 has been raised for the project from private donors. Parks & Beaches has various accounts for the projects it shepherds, and the board on Sept. 26 unanimously supported transferring $5,000 from the account for the Scripps Park Pavilion restroom facility (which has more than $11,000) to the picnic grove account to cover any “unforeseen circumstances.”

“If we don’t need it … we will return it to the [Pavilion] account,” Corsi said.

Because the Pavilion project has been completed and is now under the auspices of the city, any future work on it will be funded by the city.

In recent weeks, the needed permits were obtained for the picnic grove, and the project team had a pre-construction meeting with city staff “that allowed us to move forward,” Corsi said. “And move very fast.”

She said the 45 working days include 30 days of construction and time to allow the GraniteCrete to rest, along with time to fix anything that doesn’t satisfy Americans with Disabilities Act requirements or the city’s review.

LJP&B President Bob Evans said he was “excited that so much has come together in the last few weeks. I could not be more proud and more impressed with what [Corsi] has done, how she led, how she’s put this together, and she has put so much time and energy into this.”

This picnic area inside Scripps Park will become a picnic grove.

Other LJP&B news

Pavilion drainage: Evans said he was recently part of a meeting with city Parks & Recreation Department staff that is surveying drainage issues at the Scripps Park Pavilion restroom facility.

“The swamp area has taken over the whole front lawn,” Evans said. “The drainage has been a problem since the opening back in January and is growing. The barricades have taken over the whole grass area.”

He said the city is “still way out” on a repair timeline and that none should be expected before the end of the year. He added that he is continuing to communicate with the appropriate departments.

Election coming: An election committee will form in coming weeks to seek trustees to serve on the LJP&B board starting in January.

Applications must be submitted by the first week of January and will be posted at Last year, the board implemented term limits. Thus, in January, six board members will have termed out: Patrick Ahern, Dan Allen, John Shannon, Catherine Cox, Barbara Dunbar and Phyllis Minick. There is an additional open seat following the departure of Dolores Donovan earlier this year.

New trash can lids: When new trash receptacle lids are installed along La Jolla’s coast, they will be tan-colored to avoid “sticking out” against the ocean views. LJP&B member Ann Dynes, who manages the Whale View Point shoreline enhancement project, said the city proposed installing bright blue and black lids.

Dynes negotiated with the city to instead use tan ones to lessen their visual impact.

The Whale View Point account has $8,000 in it, some of which Dynes wanted approval to use for the lids. However, she didn’t have an exact number of lids that she would purchase, so the board voted to support the effort in concept.

Next meeting: La Jolla Parks & Beaches next meets at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, at the La Jolla/Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave. Evans said the intent is for the meeting to be solely in person, with no online participation. Learn more at

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