Debate over Coast Walk width is renewed by call for traffic study

Coast Walk is too narrow and needs widening, La Jolla resident Melinda Merryweather says.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

La Jolla resident Melinda Merryweather, who has previously urged a vehicle turnaround on the single-lane road, says a study is needed ‘in the name of safety.’


The width and safety of La Jolla’s Coast Walk came up for renewed debate at the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board’s meeting this week, but the board did not vote on whether a traffic study should be requested for the street.

Coast Walk is a paved short street west of Torrey Pines Road between Prospect Place and Amalfi Street that connects to Coast Walk Trail, which starts at Goldfish Point.

For the record:

8:11 p.m. March 26, 2023A previous homeowner on Coast Walk paid to repave the road decades ago. This article has been updated to correct the time frame and two misspellings of Brenda Fake’s last name.

La Jolla resident Melinda Merryweather brought forth a request at T&T’s meeting March 21 for a traffic study “in the name of safety.”

In many places, Merryweather said, Coast Walk is 11 feet wide, leaving no room for cars to pass one another or turn around. That forces vehicles — including fire and garbage trucks — to reverse the length of the road, she said.

Merryweather asked T&T for a vehicle turnaround there in 2016, and the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee heard the request in 2020. But there has been no resolution.

The safety issues with Coast Walk persist, Merryweather said, and the road “needs to be widened.”

The rising popularity of Coast Walk Trail has brought an influx of people to the area, adding to the urgency, she said.

“The width of it is ridiculous for a street that has that much traffic,” Merryweather said.

T&T Chairman Brian Earley said he received two letters of support for the idea from La Jolla residents.

The supporters do not include Brenda Fake, who lives on Coast Walk and heads the nonprofit Friends of Coast Walk Trail, which carries out maintenance and improvement projects on the trail.

“The width of the road is adequate and works,” Fake said. She added that trash collection trucks are efficient at getting in and out.

Coast Walk is a single-lane road, primarily painted with red curbs except for two parking spots near the trailhead and two others directly adjacent to Torrey Pines Road.

“It is a quiet street,” Fake said, with only 10 houses.

According to La Jolla engineer Michael Pallamary, “perhaps the biggest threat to Coast Walk is … to promote the notion that there’s a safety issue,” since it could affect homeowners’ ability to obtain insurance.

The Coast Walk land is owned by the homeowners, who have paid privately to have the road paved, Pallamary said.

Fake said a previous owner paid to repave the road decades ago.

Previous proposals to install a turnaround failed because “it was an attempt to go into people’s private right of ways,” Fake said.

“We ask this committee to let this die. We’re tired of the harassment,” she said.

If the city of San Diego has had trouble with access to Coast Walk for emergency or trash services, “something would have happened already,” Earley said.

A city spokesman did not have an immediate comment. ◆