Recent fix at Scripps Park restroom facility ‘improved the situation a bit,’ but drainage problems remain

Water runoff from the shower at the Scripps Park restroom facility still makes its way to the surrounding grass.
Water runoff from the shower at the Scripps Park restroom facility still makes its way to the surrounding grass after the city of San Diego tried to fix the drainage system.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

‘Water still escapes onto the sides of the pavement and creates mud bogs on all sides,’ a local resident states in a report to the city of San Diego, which says it is examining the issue.


A recent attempt to repair the shower drain at the Scripps Park Pavilion restroom facility to stop an accumulation of “mud bogs” in the grass didn’t quite get the job done, according to a resident’s report filed with the city of San Diego.

Now the city is looking to find another possible solution.

Drainage and privacy concerns have plagued the more than $5 million facility adjacent to La Jolla Cove since it opened at the start of 2022.

The San Diego Engineering & Capital Projects Department completed a project in May this year to install an additional drain “to fix drainage issues,” said city spokesman Tyler Becker. The installation of the second drain was budgeted at $62,000, Becker said.

But according to local swimmer Doug Burleigh, although the repair “improved the situation a bit ... it did not fix it.”

Burleigh filed a report with the city outlining the history of problems, the one that remains and proposed solutions.

“The original linear floor drain was too close to the showers, so water bounced off people, landed beyond the drain and escaped onto the grass, mostly at the corners of the paved area, where it created two large mud bogs,” Burleigh wrote. “Recently, another linear drain was added to fix the problem. This drain was parallel to the original drain but was a few feet farther out from the shower wall. And it is a few feet longer than the original. … [But] water still escapes onto the sides of the pavement and creates mud bogs on all sides.”

Both the original design and the repair “failed to recognize that water runs downhill” and that a small peak in the middle of the shower causes water to drain into the grass, he said.

“It was obvious that it was noticed that the new linear drain failed to capture this drainage to the right side, as several slots were sawed into the pavement on the right side and little lines of cement were added to block water drainage along the cement pavement seams. Unfortunately, this modification also fails to capture all the water headed toward the sides,” Burleigh said.

The Scripps Park Pavilion is in the area of the park overlooking La Jolla Cove.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

As a solution, Burleigh proposed adding more linear drains along both sides and the outer edge of the facility that faces The Cove to connect to the ends of the second linear drain.

Becker said city staff is “evaluating the cause of the drainage issues and any remedies it may have.”

Scripps Park Pavilion, a replacement for a previous restroom facility, had been in the works since January 2014. The project demolished the former facility and added the new one, which includes more toilets, unisex toilet stalls, showers, changing rooms, storage space and more.

Construction originally was to begin in the first part of 2019 for an opening in summer 2021, but an unexpected redesign of certain features pushed the date back, according to project managers. The COVID-19 pandemic also caused a delay.

The widely praised aesthetic design was done by San Diego-based Safdie Rabines Architects — whose other La Jolla projects include UC San Diego’s Scripps Seaside Forum, North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood and Epstein Family Amphitheater — and was funded through private donations before the plans were handed over to the city for execution.

In addition to the drainage issues, a privacy screen was added after several complaints that the restrooms and changing areas were visible from the street and the nearby La Jolla Cove Suites Hotel. ◆