La Jolla traffic board backs designs for median makeovers along Nautilus Street

Trace Wilson's proposed improvements to the medians on Nautilus Street (right), contrasted with current conditions
A rendering of La Jolla architect Trace Wilson’s proposed improvements to the medians on Nautilus Street (right) is contrasted with his photo of current conditions.
(Trace Wilson)

Proposed options for the seven medians between Fay Avenue and West Muirlands Drive are rock only in the center or a combination of rock and drought-tolerant plants.


A proposal to replace asphalt center medians on Nautilus Street with concrete and “materials that are aesthetically pleasing” got unanimous approval from the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board.

The Aug. 15 vote came as a follow-up to discussions in May and April, when La Jolla urbanist and architect Trace Wilson raised the idea to improve the condition of the medians between Fay Avenue and West Muirlands Drive.

There are seven medians along that stretch of Nautilus, built with asphalt around 1957, Wilson said. They are now filled with weeds.

“This is a no man’s land,” he said.

The asphalt is “pretty well decayed and deteriorated,” said Allen Burt, general manager of Urban Landcare, whom Wilson asked to estimate the costs of doing the work.

The proposal comes with two options: renovate the medians with only rock in the center, or add a combination of rock and drought-tolerant plants like coral aloe.

Either option would address only the center of the medians, without changes to the curbs and gutters.

Allen Burt of Urban Landcare and local architect Trace Wilson discuss their proposal to improve the Nautilus Street medians.
Allen Burt of Urban Landcare (left) and local architect Trace Wilson discuss their proposal to improve the Nautilus Street medians during the La Jolla Transportation & Traffic Board’s meeting Aug. 15 at the La Jolla/Riford Library.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Burt presented Urban Landcare’s quotes for the two options, noting that each includes work to clear the medians, provide traffic control and remove the excavated material.

However, the estimates were done for only five medians instead of seven, so the numbers will be adjusted.

The estimate for all-rock medians was $126,066. The option for medians with plants came to $109,279, though Wilson noted that “with landscaping comes maintenance.”

Both options will “follow the city of San Diego’s specifications for the concrete,” Burt said, and will include fractured rock that matches Wilson’s rendering.

The rock and concrete are “traffic-rated,” Burt said. “So if somebody or something drives over it, it will not collapse or break or do any more damage.”

Burt said the project also will use landscape fabric and other methods to prevent weeds from returning.

If the option with rock and landscaping is selected, the plants could be any drought-tolerant combination that fits within the budget, Burt said.

Urban Landcare, which has done many similar projects throughout La Jolla, can provide estimates for ongoing maintenance, Burt said.

The work is to be funded by private donations. An anonymous donor has already pledged $10,000.

“It’s my hope that with thousands of people that use this corridor [giving] 100 bucks or 500 bucks or 1,000 bucks each, you’re going to have the money you need,” Wilson said.

After Urban Landcare applies for and receives a right-of-entry permit from the city, the work could be completed within two weeks, Burt said.

La Jolla resident Sally Miller suggested taking out the medians altogether “so the eyesore is gone.”

Wilson responded that the improved medians not only would beautify that part of Nautilus but also help to calm traffic. “You know anything raised in the public right of way helps slow people down,” he said.

Though Wilson asked T&T to approve the plan and choose whether it would like landscaping or rock only, the board chose to support the design with both options and let members of the La Jolla Community Planning Association weigh in on the choice.

“This is a great project,” T&T Chairman Brian Earley said.

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Other T&T news

Officer elections: The T&T Board unanimously approved the slate of nominations made at the last meeting for chair, vice chair and secretary.

Only one nomination was made for each position: Earley to continue as chairman, Eric Gantzel to be vice chairman and Donna Aprea to continue as secretary.

“We’re going to do our best the next year,” Earley said.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board next meets at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the La Jolla/Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave. Email ◆