News Nuggets: ‘Spaces as Places’ changes?; sidewalk vending; La Jolla Institute for Immunology; more

Puesto in La Jolla
Puesto’s outdoor dining on public property in La Jolla, pictured in June, is an example of a “streetary” under San Diego’s “Spaces as Places” program.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Coastal Commission staff calls for changes to ‘Spaces as Places’ to replace parking used for dining

In advance of a formal hearing by the California Coastal Commission on Wednesday, Dec. 14, the commission staff has recommended that the city of San Diego’s “Spaces as Places” program be modified to address the potential loss of parking in coastal areas caused by outdoor dining.

According to the staff report, “streetaries” (outdoor dining areas that serve as an extension of restaurants in places previously used for public parking) and off-street parking spaces converted to dining areas in a “beach impact area” (close to a beach) would be required to replace any public parking they occupy with an equivalent number of spaces at no cost to the public. The spaces would be provided either onsite or through a shared parking agreement.

“While the requirement to provide replacement of removed on-street parking may be challenging for some businesses to achieve, the beach impact area is a relatively small area within coastal communities that are subject to higher levels of traffic congestion and parking needs,” said San Diego spokeswoman Tara Lewis.

The Spaces as Places initiative, which went into effect in most of the city in mid-July, establishes regulations for eating and drinking areas placed on parking spaces on city streets and other outdoor public places and provides a process for existing temporary operations to transition to permanent. Businesses must comply with the new regulations to be granted a permit under Spaces as Places.

However, the program can’t take effect in the coastal zone — which includes most of La Jolla — until it is reviewed and certified by the Coastal Commission. The review is necessary because the ordinance requires a change to Local Coastal Programs, which serve as planning documents for coastal communities.

The city has agreed to the suggested modifications in concept, which could pave the way for the Coastal Commission to find Spaces as Places in compliance with the public access and resource protection policies of San Diego’s Local Coastal Program.

Sidewalk vending ordinance cleared for coastal zone

Vendors do business in La Jolla's Scripps Park.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The San Diego City Council gave final approval to the city’s revised sidewalk vending ordinance on second reading Dec. 6, launching a 30-day period after which it can be enforced in coastal areas.

The ordinance was passed earlier this year and took effect in most of the city June 22, but restrictions focusing largely on where vendors can operate could not be enforced in La Jolla and other coastal communities while awaiting review by the California Coastal Commission. Other regulations for permitting and health and safety did go into effect.

However, Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell’s office said Aug. 26 that the Coastal Commission had agreed to withdraw its review and allow enforcement of the vending regulations in the coastal zone. However, a revision to that effect needed to be approved by the City Council so an enforcement date could be set. The ordinance now will be in effect in coastal areas the first week of January, with rangers running enforcement in shoreline parks.

The city’s ordinance will block vending year-round at La Jolla’s Scripps Park, Children’s Pool, the Coast Boulevard boardwalk between Jenner and Cuvier streets, and on main thoroughfares in some business districts, such as the boardwalk at La Jolla Shores, according to local officials. Vendors will be allowed to continue operating on the cross streets and side streets in those areas.

La Jolla Institute for Immunology finds molecule to be contributor in life-threatening asthma

According to new research from scientists at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, an inflammatory molecule called LIGHT appears to be the cause of life-threatening airway damage in patients with severe asthma, and therapeutics to stop it could reverse the damage and potentially offer a long-term treatment for asthma.

“This is a very, very significant finding,” said LJI professor Michael Croft, senior author of the study and a member of the LJI Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation. “This research gives us a better understanding of the potential of therapeutic targeting of LIGHT and what we might do to relieve some of the symptoms and some of the inflammatory features seen in patients who have severe asthma.”

The research was published recently in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. It included experiments with mouse and human tissues and was spearheaded by LJI instructor Dr. Haruka Miki.

The LIGHT protein is a type of inflammatory cytokine produced by the immune system’s T cells. T cells normally fight disease, but in asthma, they overreact to environmental triggers and flood the airways with LIGHT and other inflammatory cytokines. Researchers have developed therapies to block the activity of some of the other harmful cytokines made by T cells, but they aren’t effective for many people with severe asthma.

LJI instructor is accepted to global mentorship program

La Jolla Institute for Immunology infectious-disease researcher and instructor Annie Elong Ngono
La Jolla Institute for Immunology infectious-disease researcher and instructor Annie Elong Ngono has been accepted to the Global Virus Network’s Rising Star Mentorship Program.
(La Jolla Institute for Immunology )

La Jolla Institute for Immunology infectious-disease researcher and instructor Annie Elong Ngono has been accepted to the Global Virus Network’s highly selective Rising Star Mentorship Program.

Elong Ngono has spearheaded studies of the human body’s response to deadly pathogens such as dengue virus. She is the first LJI scientist to be accepted into the GVN Rising Star Mentorship Program, which offers early-career virologists opportunities for close collaboration with senior GVN scientists and clinicians.

Through the program, Elong Ngono also will get to participate in exclusive GVN meetings and other professional development opportunities in virology.

Elong Ngono studies how immune cells respond to flaviviruses, a family of viruses that includes dengue virus, Zika virus, yellow fever virus and Japanese encephalitis virus. The mosquito-borne viruses infect an estimated 400 million people each year. According to the World Health Organization, dengue virus alone kills about 21,000 people every year, mostly children.

Windansea surf shack is festooned with holiday wreath

Friends of Windansea members Kip Ives, Debbie Beachham and Melinda Merryweather add a wreath to the Windansea surf shack.
(Brian Munoz)

In a tradition going back decades, volunteers decorated the Windansea surf shack with a holiday wreath the first weekend of December. Friends of Windansea members Kip Ives, Debbie Beachham and Melinda Merryweather hoisted the handmade wreath onto the historic shack.

The shack, a simple shelter built of eucalyptus tree trunks for posts and Canary Island palm fronds for thatching, is on the bluffs of Windansea Beach. It was built in 1946 (though some say 1947) by surfers who wanted a place to rest their boards and serve as a sun shelter for their children. The shack was designated historic by the San Diego Historical Resources Board in May 1998.

Winter Carnival postponed to this weekend

The La Jolla Open Aire Market’s Winter Carnival  scheduled for Dec. 11 was postponed to Sunday, Dec. 18, because of rain.

A storm struck San Diego County on the planned day of the carnival, bringing gusty winds and heavy showers.

The free event this weekend will include pictures with Santa Claus, live music, crafts and face painting from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the grounds of La Jolla Elementary School at Girard Avenue and Genter Street. Learn more at

UC San Diego research group gets federal funding for battery recycling project

UC San Diego will receive $10 million to develop and scale up technology that recycles lithium-ion batteries as part of efforts to switch to sustainable energy.

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Energy’s distribution of $74 million from the recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to advance the reuse of batteries.

Zheng Chen, who leads the UCSD battery research team, said finding second lives for batteries is crucial.

Lithium-ion batteries dominate the market for portable electronic devices, electric vehicles and energy storage systems. But there’s a finite amount of lithium that can be extracted around the globe, and its costs have increased 13-fold in the past two years, according to mining experts.

The UC San Diego project looks to recycle lithium-ion batteries through a process the lab calls purification-regeneration integrated materials engineering, or PRIME. The technology takes critical cathode material from spent batteries as well as scraps from the manufacturing process and returns it to the production line.

The lab says it will ramp up the PRIME process to an industrial level while consuming just 20 percent of the energy used in conventional recycling methods.

The UCSD team includes researchers from Arizona State University, the University of Chicago, General Motors and the Argonne National Laboratory. — The San Diego Union-Tribune

Witt Wolfpack to present ALS fundraiser in La Jolla

Members of the Witt Wolfpack, a La Jolla family raising money for local ALS research after Todd Witt’s ALS diagnosis in 2021, will present a “Rising Dough” fundraiser Wednesday, Dec. 21, at American Pizza Manufacturing at 7402 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla.

Twenty percent of all sales that day will be donated to the ALS Association on behalf of the Witt Wolfpack.

Todd Witt has begun a trial stem cell therapy program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

For more information, visit or call (858) 246-6756. Donations also can be made at

— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff