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Goals for improved medians and a welcome sign at La Jolla’s ‘Throat’ are progressing, Shores group is told

A proposed welcome sign for La Jolla would be placed at the intersection of Torrey Pines Road and La Jolla Shores Drive.
(Screenshot by Elisabeth Frausto)

“Let’s make this look the way we want it to look,” La Jolla architect Trace Wilson said this week about beautifying the medians at the intersection of La Jolla Parkway, Torrey Pines Road and Hidden Valley Road — the area known as “The Throat.”

In an update to the La Jolla Shores Association during its Nov. 9 virtual meeting, Wilson showed pictures he took of the medians earlier that day showing “the trees have been trimmed … they trimmed and cleaned the birds of paradise [plants], weeded the areas and put mulch down.”

Wilson noted that he and others have been working to improve the area since the spring, when they began complaining to San Diego city officials about what they called poor median maintenance.

Aztec Landscaping, based in Lemon Grove, has a $41,000 annual agreement with the city to maintain several medians at The Throat. The maintenance is paid for by gas taxes.

The deal is part of an arrangement for Aztec to maintain all 84 “gas tax medians” citywide for a total annual contract of $495,861, city spokesman Tim Graham said in August. A city review indicated that Aztec met performance standards during the second quarter this year in seven of 11 categories.

Local architect Trace Wilson showed these pictures he took Nov. 9 of the landscaped medians at "The Throat" in La Jolla.
Local architect Trace Wilson showed these pictures he took Nov. 9 of the landscaped medians at “The Throat” in La Jolla.
(Screenshot by Elisabeth Frausto)

Wilson added that regular reports Aztec promised to the city have been filed since he and others began asking.

There’s still more work to be done, as The Throat is “still a disaster,” he said, with weeds remaining and a lack of overall design.

Welcome sign

Wilson also provided an update on plans for a “Welcome to La Jolla” sign at the triangular median at the intersection of La Jolla Shores Drive and Torrey Pines Road, a concept the Shores Association supported in May.

The Rotary Club of La Jolla, which donated $17,000 to the city for maintenance of that median in 2018, has begun fundraising and applying for grants to pay for the sign.

Wilson told the La Jolla Light that the estimated cost for the sign and associated landscaping and lighting is $80,000. He said he would like to raise an additional $10,000 toward maintenance.

The sign concept 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, Wilson said.

Rotary past president Cindy Goodman said: “I’m excited about it. We’re working on it. And I don’t think it’s going to be too hard to get this community together to support it financially as well as in terms of enthusiasm.”

Goodman said the sign officially will be sponsored by the Rotary Foundation to ensure that all donations are tax-deductible.

Vicky Joes, representing San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said Steve Hadley, another LaCava representative, is working with city staff “to determine if a right-of-entry permit is needed to construct and put up the welcome sign.”

Joes added that LaCava has asked what will it take to expand the gas tax median boundary to include medians on the north side of La Jolla Parkway so they can be incorporated into Aztec’s maintenance schedule.

Wilson said he would love for all the medians to be included to unify the look of The Throat.

Other LJSA news

Election: The La Jolla Shores Association will have six board seats available in its March election. So far, only two candidates have said they are running, said LJSA secretary Charlie Brown.

To become a board member, candidates must be registered LJSA members by January and have attended at least one meeting before the candidates forum in February (there is no December meeting).

For more information, visit lajollashoresassociation.org.

Pottery Canyon update: The second phase of efforts to clean up Pottery Canyon, an open-space park within The Shores boundaries, will wait until spring.

Phase 1 was a preliminary cleanup of dead trees and brush believed to pose a fire hazard.

The second phase would include dead wood removal and restoration planting by the nonprofit San Diego Canyonlands, which has a right-of-entry permit to work on city parklands.

LJSA President Janie Emerson said fundraising efforts led by canyon-adjacent resident Alina Mullen failed to get $25,000 in donations by Nov. 1 so the work could be completed by March 1, before gnatcatcher nesting season, as required.

The project “is asleep now until next spring,” when fundraising will pick up again, Emerson said.

Lifeguard update: With the change to Pacific Standard Time, lifeguard stations at La Jolla Shores beaches are now closing at 5 p.m. through the winter, said San Diego lifeguard Lt. Lonnie Stephens.

Next meeting: LJSA next meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11, online. Learn more at lajollashoresassociation.org.