‘The belvedere is paid for’: Friends of Windansea reaches fundraising goal for shade structure in La Jolla

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

The group is still trying to raise money for the rest of a larger project that includes new fencing and bench relocation as erosion-mitigation measures.


With a recent $25,000 check from an anonymous donor and a separate donation of $250 from a La Jolla family, Friends of Windansea has reached its fundraising goal to build a belvedere shade structure at Windansea Beach.

The 63-square-foot blufftop belvedere, or gazebo, on Neptune Place near Rosemont Street is part of a larger project for the area that also includes installation of about 1,800 feet of post-and-rope fencing along the sidewalk on the west side of Neptune between Westbourne Street and Palomar Avenue bordering Windansea Beach park. It also authorizes relocation of two public benches and their supporting concrete pads.

The fencing and bench relocation are intended as erosion-mitigation measures by rerouting the path of pedestrians along the bluff.

Friends of Windansea member Melinda Merryweather announced to applause at the La Jolla Parks & Beaches board’s Aug. 28 meeting that “the belvedere is paid for.”

She added that fundraising efforts are underway to pay for the rest of the project, for which she said $475,000 is needed. “If you donate $500, you get a T-shirt,” she said.

The whole project is to be funded by Friends of Windansea. Backers say the new belvedere would replace one that was built in the 1920s and torn down in the 1980s in an apparent act of vandalism. The belvedere proposal has been supported by several of La Jolla’s community planning groups since it began circulating in 2018.

A belvedere at La Jolla's Scripps Park is comparable to the one to be built at Windansea Beach.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The concept was approved by the Development Permit Review Committee in 2018 and Parks & Beaches in 2020, and more detailed plans were approved by the DPR in February 2021.

The Community Planning Association supported the plan in April 2021.

However, fundraising had been stalled until recently because of appeals of the project at local and state levels by the Preserve Windansea Beach Association, which was formed in early 2021 by opponents of the belvedere.

Preserve Windansea Beach argued that the belvedere would be atop an eroding bluff and could create public risk if the bluff or gazebo falls. It challenged San Diego city staff’s determination that the project is exempt from California Environmental Quality Act review and would have no environmental impact. The organization also contended the gazebo would obstruct ocean views from the sidewalk and attract additional traffic to an already popular beach area.

Appeals filed with a San Diego hearing officer, the San Diego Planning Commission and San Diego City Council all were denied, and in June this year, the California Coastal Commission unanimously determined that the appeal did not raise any substantial issues and that the project could proceed.

During the Planning Commission hearing, landscape architect and Friends of Windansea member Jim Neri argued for the project, telling commissioners that the belvederes that dot parts of La Jolla’s coast contribute to the community’s “cultural fabric” and that Friends of Windansea has executed other projects “from concept to completion” and is capable of doing so with this project.

He said the Friends — formed in 1997 as an ad-hoc group of beach-goers and residents to make changes to the area to slow erosion — drafted a plan the city approved in 2000 that included creation of a parking lot and beach access stairs.

The latest project including the belvedere “is about protecting our bluffs and making improvements that are consistent with what we’ve already done and maintained,” Neri said. “The structure is good for the community, good for the city and part of our heritage.”

A schedule for construction was not immediately available. ◆