La Jolla News Nuggets: Plaque honors artist; electric vehicle batteries; high-rise housing; Tom Hom; more

A plaque commemorating late local artist Robbie Baumgart is installed at Muirlands Middle School.
(Jeff Luna)

Muirlands Middle School installs plaque commemorating local artist’s work

Muirlands Middle School in La Jolla installed a plaque Jan. 11 commemorating Robbie Baumgart, a local artist who worked with Muirlands students. He died in 2017.

The plaque is under a large installation called “Turtles,” which was completed in 2013 by students in Muirlands art teacher Trish Cox’s class.

La Jolla company is awarded $2.8 million in effort to make electric vehicle batteries better

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $2.82 million to a La Jolla-based company as part of a $42 million grant cycle to various companies looking to make electric vehicle batteries run longer, charge faster and cost less.

Tyfast Energy of La Jolla, a maker of batteries with extended life cycles, is commercializing a lithium-ion battery using a new anode material that can be charged quickly and last a long time.

San Diego-based South 8 Technologies, which is poised to come out with batteries that use a novel liquefied gas electrolyte technology, received $3.15 million.

The companies were two of 12 entities from the private sector, national laboratories and universities across the country who collectively received $42 million from the federal government’s Electric Vehicles for American Low-Carbon Living program that seeks to bolster the domestic supply chain for advanced batteries.

Proposal to allow more high-rise housing clears San Diego committee; LaCava votes no

A controversial proposal to allow high-rise housing and backyard apartments on many more properties in San Diego was approved 3-1 on Jan. 12 by the City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee. Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, cast the lone opposing vote.

The proposal would soften city rules that allow taller apartment buildings and more backyard units when a property is near mass transit. The transit line could be as far away as a mile instead of the current requirement of a half-mile.

Supporters say San Diego’s housing and homelessness crisis makes such bold moves necessary, despite the city’s relatively limited transit system and doubts that people will give up their cars even if the system improves.

Opponents say such a sweeping change — which would place roughly half the city in a transit development incentive zone — needs significantly more study.

LaCava said he is unsure whether he supports the proposal and that it needs more analysis.

“This is a significant policy shift,” said LaCava, who criticized city planning officials for folding it into a large package of 84 municipal code changes, where it may get less attention than if it were stand-alone legislation.

LaCava lobbied to separate the proposal so it can be further analyzed and presented in coming months along with several other housing reforms that Mayor Todd Gloria is expected to unveil.

Kiwanis Club of La Jolla hosts San Diego public figure Tom Hom

Tom Hom, who in 1963 became the first non-Caucasian elected to the San Diego City Council
The Kiwanis Club of La Jolla’s Jan. 13 meeting featured Tom Hom, the first non-Caucasian elected to the San Diego City Council.
(Kiwanis Club of La Jolla)

The Kiwanis Club of La Jolla last week hosted Tom Hom, who in 1963 became the first non-Caucasian elected to the San Diego City Council.

Hom also is the second Asian American elected to the California Legislature. From 1968 to 1970, he represented the 79th Assembly District.

Hom, 95, is the author of “Rabbit on a Bumpy Road: A Story of Courage and Endurance,” his autobiography.

The Kiwanis Club of La Jolla meets weekly at the La Jolla Community Center.

La Jolla Youth Baseball and Challenged Athletes Foundation hold clinic

Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove (center) at an event held by La Jolla Youth Baseball and the Challenged Athletes Foundation
Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove (center) talks to participants in a Jan. 14 event presented by La Jolla Youth Baseball and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
(Natasha Porlas)

La Jolla Youth Baseball and the Challenged Athletes Foundation held a leaguewide clinic Jan. 14 with CAF ambassador and San Diego Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove and others.

The 185 LJYB players rotated through several stations, mingling with Musgrove and asking questions as he signed autographs, spread awareness of CAF and encouraged the boys to be grateful for their experiences.

Rudy Garcia-Tolson, who had an amputation above the knee, told the participants that “the biggest disability is a negative attitude,” according to LJYB President Scott Blumenthal.

The Challenged Athletes Foundation works to help athletes with physical disabilities improve their lives through sports and fitness.

Three La Jolla Country Day basketball players are nominated for McDonald’s All American Games

Three athletes from La Jolla Country Day School — Breya Cunningham, Sumayah Sugapong and Jada Williams — are among 722 girls and boys high school basketball players nationwide nominated for the 2023 McDonald’s All American Games.

A complete list of nominees is available at

The top 24 girls and 24 boys will be announced Tuesday, Jan. 24, on ESPN.

Players were nominated by a high school coach, athletic director, principal or member of the McDonald’s All American Games Selection Committee.

San Diego Unified to pivot from weekly onsite coronavirus testing to home program

The San Diego Unified School District, which operates five public schools in La Jolla, emailed families Jan. 13 announcing a shift from weekly onsite coronavirus testing to a home program beginning Monday, Jan. 30.

“Students and staff who wish to test regularly, or as needed, may pick up free home test kits from their school or office through the end of the 2022-23 school year,” according to the email, signed by Susan Barndollar, district executive director of nursing and wellness.

The email reminded families that people should not attend work or school if they are feeling sick or experiencing symptoms of any cold-like virus and must stay home and report to the district if they test positive for the COVID-19 virus.

“The district will continue contact tracing and case management for all students and staff until further notice,” the email stated. “All positive home test results that are reported to the school will be documented, and the district contact tracing team will report those positive results to the county Department of Public Health. The COVID-19 Dashboard will remain in use for staff and families to monitor case rates at their schools.”

UCSD Health debuts Shiley EyeMobile for Children

UC San Diego Health has begun driving its new Shiley EyeMobile for Children to schools in San Diego County to serve low-income families in need of eye exams.

The new EyeMobile is a 33-foot-long furnished recreational vehicle with two exam rooms, as well as a waiting area with a television and a wall with a selection of eyeglass frames. It was funded by an estate gift from a former patient.

The vehicle is scheduled to visit about 250 preschools this year in underserved areas at no cost to families. It replaces the previous EyeMobile that had been in service for nearly 15 years.

— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff