‘Moving in a positive direction’: La Jolla Shores group hears about median improvements at ‘The Throat’

San Diego parks staff presented before-and-after photos showing work done in the medians at "The Throat" in La Jolla.
San Diego parks staff presented before-and-after photos to the La Jolla Shores Association showing recent work in the medians at “The Throat” in La Jolla.
(Screenshot by Elisabeth Frausto)

New plants were installed Feb. 4, to be followed by a magnolia tree, according to the San Diego Parks & Recreation Department.


Efforts to maintain and improve the medians at “The Throat” in La Jolla — the intersection of La Jolla Parkway, Torrey Pines Road and Hidden Valley Road — are “moving in a positive direction,” according to a San Diego Parks & Recreation Department official.

Ed Christensen, district manager of the department’s open space division, updated members of the La Jolla Shores Association at the group’s Feb. 8 meeting following city promises in December to provide La Jollans with more frequent communication.

Local community leaders have spoken with city staff many times about median improvements since last spring, when residents began complaining to city officials about what they called poor 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.

San Diego city staff says median maintenance and improvements will continue at "The Throat" in La Jolla.
San Diego city staff says median maintenance and improvements will continue at “The Throat” in La Jolla.
(Screenshot by Elisabeth Frausto )

The deal is part of an arrangement for Aztec to maintain 84 “gas tax median areas” citywide — each containing one to 12 medians — for a total annual contract of $495,861, city spokesman Tim Graham said.

Christensen said he, Parks & Rec open space division Deputy Director Erika Ferreira and Parks & Rec grounds maintenance manager Sal Serrano met with Aztec representatives in January “to talk specifics of plants and what needs to be fixed up in that area.”

On Feb. 4, ”the Aztec crew was out there and they installed 18 flats of Lampranthus,” a ground cover, along with 38 5-gallon Pittosporum, “the dark green plants already out there,” Christensen said.

A 15-gallon magnolia tree will be planted in the next two weeks, he added.

The crew that did all the work was provided by Aztec at no additional charge, Christensen said.

“The difference for those of us who [have] walked those areas is very significant,” said Cindy Goodman of the Rotary Club of La Jolla, which has donated money for upkeep of one of the medians.

Aztec will continue to maintain the medians every two weeks, and city staff will continue to update LJSA at its monthly meetings.

The city’s latest evaluation of Aztec’s work in the medians was conducted this month for the period from November to January, according to San Diego spokesman Benny Cartwright.

The report says Aztec scored 100 percent on all 11 criteria, though a comment mentions that “some sites require greater attention.” Another comment states, “Rather than blowing back into the medians, the material should be gathered and removed from the site.”

The next evaluation will be conducted in May, Cartwright said.

Other LJSA news

A San Diego beach fire ring
A San Diego municipal code amendment to explicitly ban wood bonfires outside designated rings on city beaches takes effect Sunday, Feb. 12.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Beach fire enforcement: An amendment to the San Diego municipal code that explicitly bans wood bonfires outside designated rings on city beaches goes into effect Sunday, Feb. 12.

The amendment, which first passed the City Council on Dec. 13 and again on second reading Jan. 10, followed years of arguments by community groups in La Jolla and other beach communities that such fires pose a safety hazard and cause pollution.

The ban rewrites a vague section of the code to state that the only beach fires allowed outside city-designated rings are those fueled by propane, which leave no dangerous embers and produce less smoke.

However, San Diego police Lt. Bryan Brecht said Feb. 8 that enforcement is “not going to be a huge priority where [police will] be checking all the beaches at the same time.”

The main focus will be on the bar district along Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach, Brecht said.

Police Community Relations Officer Jessica Thrift said officers have been educating people about the ban.

Steve Hadley, representing the office of City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said there is typically a grace period for education before fines are levied. He added that park rangers will help with enforcement.

LJSA board member Meinrat “Andi” Andreae, who has worked on the advocacy efforts, said “I think the only entity that is available for doing enforcement is [police], because neither the lifeguards nor the rangers … are actually working after hours,” when fires typically are ignited.

LJSA President Janie Emerson said “we are hopeful that enforcement will become robust.”

As a nonprofit corporation, LJSA is not bound by the state’s Brown Act requirements ‘unless there’s specific activity that you do that is required to do that,” its president says.

“Girls Day at the Beach”: The board unanimously approved the use of part of Kellogg Park for the “Y Strong Girls Day at the Beach” scheduled for Saturday, June 17.

Steve Sullaway and Chris Nyhan of the nonprofit Windansea Surf Club asked to use part of the grass north of the North Comfort Station bathrooms.

Sullaway and Nyhan said 20 volunteers from the surf club and the Copley-Price Family YMCA in San Diego will teach 15 to 20 girls to surf in a renewal of a 2019 event.

Lifeguard update: San Diego lifeguard Lt. Lonnie Stephens said January storms brought huge waves “that we haven’t seen in about 15 years,” leading to “a lot of coastal erosion that will remain in effect until Mother Nature pushes sand back into … beaches up and down the La Jolla coastline.”

Stephens added that many local beach communities currently “have very dangerous swimming conditions” and urged people to swim where lifeguards are present. ◆


12:05 p.m. Feb. 14, 2023: This article was updated with additional information.