Opponents of planned Windansea belvedere request delay of Coastal Commission hearing to 2024

A photo illustration shows a belvedere similar to the one planned for Windansea superimposed where it would be built.
A photo illustration depicts a belvedere similar to the one planned for Windansea superimposed in the location where it would be built.
(Jim Neri)

Preserve Windansea Beach Association cites planned work to repair a storm drain in the area and the need to investigate ‘evolving issues’ with the belvedere project.


After years of filing objections to try to halt a plan to build a belvedere shade structure near Windansea Beach, members of the Preserve Windansea Beach Association are now filing for postponement of a California Coastal Commission hearing on the project to May 2024.

The extension is being requested because of planned work to repair a storm drain in the area, and it would afford the Coastal Commission time to investigate “evolving issues raised,” according to the organization.

Representatives of the Coastal Commission had not responded to the request as of April 21.

Additionally, in the next 13 months, the association intends to submit comments to the city of San Diego with recommended changes to update applicable sections of the municipal code and the La Jolla Community Plan that it says would make the belvedere project unapprovable.

The plan for the belvedere, also known as a gazebo, calls for coastal development and site development permits for a public-private project along the west side of Neptune Place between Westbourne Street and Palomar Avenue in La Jolla. Work would include construction of the shade structure on Neptune near Rosemont Street, along with continuation of post-and-chain barriers and replacement of two concrete bench pads.

The whole project is to be funded by Friends of Windansea. The plan’s backers say the structure would replace a belvedere that was built in the 1920s and torn down in the 1980s in an apparent act of vandalism.

Friends of Windansea has estimated the belvedere’s construction cost at $24,000. Preserve Windansea Beach estimates it will cost “in excess of $100,000,” including additional permit and consulting fees.

Preserve Windansea Beach, formed in 2021 by opponents of the belvedere, say they support repair elements of the project but are against construction of the gazebo.

After multiple local hearings over several months, the La Jolla Community Planning Association supported the plans in April 2021.

But through 2021 and 2022, Preserve Windansea Beach lodged objections to the city. The San Diego City Council denied an appeal over the city’s determination that the project is exempt from California Environmental Quality Act review and would have no significant environmental impact. The association also unsuccessfully objected to the project before a San Diego hearing officer and the San Diego Planning Commission.

With the California Coastal Commission being the last chance to block the project, opponents of the belvedere are seeking to delay the commission’s hearing given emergency repair of a damaged storm drain extending down the coastal bluff west of Neptune Place, during which no other work can take place.

According to a city notice, that project involves repairing a corroded 18-inch pipe and “slope failure which has partially undermined the adjacent fence, sidewalk and road surface on the west side of Neptune Place.”

The project includes 39 feet of replacement piping, two new concrete inlet structures and 15 feet of curb and gutter adjacent to the inlets on both sides of Neptune Place, plus 15 feet of new fencing and more. After the work is completed, affected areas will be restored to their previous condition, including revegetation on the coastal bluff.

Work has not yet started and isn’t expected to begin until after Labor Day in September, when the summer construction moratorium ends. Preserve Windansea Beach land-use consultant Chandra Slaven said the project is expected to take nine months.

During that time, Slaven said, the association wants to work with the city and the Coastal Commission to explore “evolving issues” with the gazebo project.

Among the things that need to be done, she said, are to review “procedural errors” with the application, “collect traffic data to evaluate the congestion that the proposed project would further contribute” and “perform accurate bluff edge measurements to ensure consistency with the city’s environmentally sensitive land regulations as well as the evolving nature of Coastal Commission methodology.”

She said she also wants a third-party geotechnical report.

“We think by gathering this information, we will be able to educate those in the community not only about Windansea but this specific project that’s under appeal,” Slaven said.

Representatives of Friends of Windansea were not immediately available for comment.

Further, members of Preserve Windansea Beach are recommending updates to city code and the La Jolla Community Plan to address “sea-level rise and climate adaptation,” Slaven said.

“If you do update the municipal code and the Community Plan, taking into account a third-party geotechnical report, this project would not be approvable,” she said. “It doesn’t matter whether the bluff is for public or private. It’s a sensitive bluff. It doesn’t [make] any difference. And so that’s the way the code should treat it.” ◆