La Jolla News Nuggets: Point La Jolla and Adelante Townhomes hearings, La Jolla firm and 101 Ash St., more

Sea lions haul out on Point La Jolla.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Coastal Commission hearing on Point La Jolla scheduled for Sept. 7

A hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 7, for the California Coastal Commission to weigh in on the proposed year-round closure of Point La Jolla. The meeting will be in Crescent City in Northern California and broadcast online.

The planned amendment to the San Diego municipal code would extend Point La Jolla’s annual six-month closure, currently May 1 through Oct. 31 during sea lion pupping season, to all year.

The city enacted the seasonal closure last year to keep people off Point La Jolla to address “various reports of harassment and problematic interactions onsite between humans and the sea lion population which has grown in recent years,” according to Karen Dennison, assistant director of the San Diego Parks & Recreation Department.

Point La Jolla is a rocky area between La Jolla Cove beach and Boomer Beach where sea lions go on land to rest and give birth. The closure also applies to the bluffs at Boomer Beach, where sea lions also haul out. Boomer Beach water access remains open via a makeshift trail.

A year-round closure would be in effect “until the city can adopt additional long-term strategies to manage the area,” Dennison said.

Learn more and watch the hearing at

Adelante Townhomes change to add ground-floor retail going to Bird Rock council

A rendering of the proposed Adelante Townhomes at 5575 La Jolla Blvd.
A rendering of the proposed Adelante Townhomes at 5575 La Jolla Blvd. is presented to the Bird Rock Community Council last November.

After months of hearings in which the lack of ground-floor retail at the proposed Adelante Townhomes project was discussed, the applicant team has made changes to include retail, and those changes will be the focus of the Bird Rock Community Council meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 5, at Bird Rock Elementary School, 5371 La Jolla Hermosa Ave.

“The BRCC hopes to have a good exchange of information about the project and proposed changes before and during the Sept. 5 BRCC community meeting … [which] will provide the final opportunity to learn more about the project and the proposed changes and share your options and concerns … before the board votes on whether to support the project with the proposed changes,” BRCC President Joe Terry said in an email.

Developer Murfey Co. proposes adding about 1,100 square feet of retail space at the northwest corner of the development, redesigning the residential unit at that corner to be one story over the retail space, and designing an entrance to the retail space at sidewalk level that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Company principal Russ Murfey did not say whether his firm initiated the changes or they were recommended by the city of San Diego as part of its review.

The project seeks to demolish an office building and construct the 14-unit townhomes building with a basement, covered parking and roof decks at 5575 La Jolla Blvd., at Forward Street. The project would total 21,485 square feet. The townhomes are to be offered for sale, with one unit considered affordable for low-income residents.

Because the project includes the affordable unit, Murfey Co. requested a waiver to a La Jolla Planned District Ordinance requirement that 50 percent of ground-floor space in new developments be reserved for retail in Zone 4, which includes La Jolla Boulevard.

The lack of ground-floor retail has been an issue of contention since the project was first proposed last year. In subsequent hearings, opponents have questioned whether waivers and incentives being used to bypass the retail requirement are being applied correctly.

The La Jolla Community Planning Association backed the project in May, and three other Bird Rock-area developments will be up for full review soon.

July 14, 2023

San Diego will negotiate with La Jolla developer on 101 Ash St. proposal

The city of San Diego will enter a 90-day negotiation period with La Jolla-based Reven Capital, a real estate investment management firm proposing a nearly 400-unit housing project at the site of the empty office tower at 101 Ash St.

The decision, announced Aug. 23, marks a turning point in the real estate competition for San Diego’s Civic Center complex in the downtown core.

The city received two letters of interest in response to a May solicitation issued under California’s Surplus Land Act, but deemed one of the bids not responsive because it did not include housing, according to an internal memo sent to Mayor Todd Gloria.

Reven Capital is proposing to convert the office tower into a residential building with 393 units, all of them deed-restricted for low-income families, said Chief Executive Chad Carpenter.

The specifics of the bid were not provided. The firm’s broader strategy, according to its website, is to buy distressed office buildings and convert them into residential or industrial properties.

The 21-story Ash Street building, built in 1967, has been mostly vacant since mid-2015, when Sempra Energy moved out. In early 2017, the city of San Diego entered a 20-year lease-to-own agreement with Cisterra Development for the tower, which was appraised at $67 million at the time. But the city, after completing a larger-than-anticipated remodel, was unable to safely occupy the building because of asbestos and other issues.

The Ash Street transaction has since been the subject of civil and criminal investigations, with San Diego challenging the legality of the deal and accusing Cisterra of conspiring to defraud the city. The cases have been resolved, and last year the city opted to buy out the remaining Ash Street lease obligations.

In total, San Diego has spent around $140 million on the building, including the $86 million settlement payment, $24 million on lease payments before the litigation and roughly $30 million in renovation expenses. The sum does not include legal fees or ongoing maintenance costs. — The San Diego Union-Tribune

Traffic board backs road closures for La Jolla Art & Wine Festival

A preliminary map of the 2023 La Jolla Art & Wine Festival shows temporary road closures planned along Girard Avenue.
A preliminary map of the 2023 La Jolla Art & Wine Festival shows temporary road closures planned along Girard Avenue.
(La Jolla Art & Wine Festival)

The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board unanimously approved temporary street closures and no-parking zones for the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7-8.

Festival founder and chairwoman Sherry Ahern made the request at T&T’s Aug. 15 meeting, noting that for the 15th annual iteration, “we have not really done anything different to our footprint this year or our times or anything else.”

The temporary closures and no-parking zones apply to Girard Avenue between Torrey Pines Road and Prospect Street, with the intersection at Girard and Kline Street kept open for vehicles to pass through. Short portions of Silverado and Wall streets also are to be closed.

The closures are planned for 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, through about noon Monday, Oct. 9, to give festival participants time to set up before the event and clean up afterward, Ahern said.

Signs notifying drivers of the closures and no-parking zones will be posted 72 hours in advance.

The La Jolla Art & Wine Festival will feature 165 artists, along with a wine and beer garden that holds 1,500 people.

Since its founding, the festival has raised more than $1.2 million for public schools in La Jolla. For more information, visit

Queenstown Village celebrates opening with ceremony

The Queenstown Village restaurant hosted a grand-opening party and ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 23 at 1044 Wall St.

The establishment opened in June in the spot formerly occupied by Karl Strauss Brewery.

Representatives of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association were at the party to welcome the restaurant owners and staff, and guests dined on sliders and sipped signature cocktails.

Scripps Oceanography to develop sewage contamination forecast tool

UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla will develop the Tijuana River Estuary and Coastal Ocean Pathogen Forecast Model, which scientists said can tell decision-makers when beach closures are necessary as work continues to stop sewage spilling over the border from Mexico.

The $3 million in funding to develop the forecast tool was brokered by state Sen. Steve Padilla.

“The vision is that a local family or tourists can look at an app and see just like you can see with a weather model or with weather predictions whether it’s a good idea to take your kids to the beach on the weekend,” said Falk Feddersen, a Scripps physical oceanographer.

Imperial Beach was among the South County communities whose residents and businesses were under a boil-water advisory Aug. 24-26 after a water line tested positive for E. coli.

Scripps’ tool will be based on two key aspects resulting in five-day forecasts: sampling water at beaches and other coastal sites to identify harmful pathogens and conducting lab experiments to assess how long bacteria survives in the ocean. — The San Diego Union-Tribune

Salk physician-scientist Jesse Dixon named Rita Allen Foundation Award Scholar

Physician-scientist Jesse Dixon, an assistant professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla
Physician-scientist Jesse Dixon, an assistant professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, has been named a Rita Allen Foundation Award Scholar.
(Salk Institute)

Physician-scientist Jesse Dixon, an assistant professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, has been named a Rita Allen Foundation Award Scholar.

The distinction is given to biomedical scientists whose research holds promise for revealing new pathways to advance human health.

Dixon was one of nine scientists the foundation named to its 2023 class of Rita Allen Foundation Scholars. The scholars will receive grants of up to $110,000 annually for up to five years to conduct research on topics in cancer, immunology, neuroscience and pain.

Dixon studies how genomes are organized in 3D space inside of cells and how errors in genome folding can lead to human diseases such as cancer. His team recently discovered genetic changes that alter 3D genome folding and lead to activation of cancer-promoting genes. The findings could lead to improved ways of predicting and treating cancer.

Local scientists look at role of high-fat diet in colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer in people younger than 50 has increased in recent years, and one possible reason is the rising rate of obesity and high-fat diets, according to researchers at La Jolla’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies and UC San Diego.

The researchers report that they recently discovered how high-fat diets can change gut bacteria and alter digestive molecules called bile acids (produced by the liver and used by the gut to help digest food and absorb cholesterol, fats and nutrients) that are modified by those bacteria, predisposing mice to colorectal cancer.

In the future, the team will study how quickly bile acids change after an animal begins eating a high-fat diet. They also plan to study ways to reverse the cancer-associated effects of a high-fat diet by targeting a protein they previously discovered to be associated with bile-acid changes.

County gives advice on disposing of or reusing sandbags

Now that Tropical Storm Hilary has passed, the San Diego County Department of Public Works is offering tips on disposing of or reusing sandbags that residents and businesses obtained as a way to prevent flooding:

  • With rainy season approaching, consider keeping your sandbags for reuse. Store them filled, or empty out the clean sand and store the bags away from sunlight in a covered, above-ground location.
  • If the used sandbags are not contaminated with foul water, chemicals or petroleum products, rake the sand into soil, add it to planters or use it for flower beds as a soil amendment.
  • Place empty bags in trash cans if you choose not to reuse them, or take them directly to a landfill. Don’t place the bags in the recycling bin.
  • Do not put full sandbags in a trash bin; they are too heavy for disposal companies to collect.
  • If you see or suspect that your sandbags are contaminated with sewage, chemicals or petroleum products, handle them with protective gear, including gloves and eyewear. Dispose of them at select landfills or through a hazardous-waste contractor. Contact a landfill in advance, as additional handling and paperwork will be required.

More than 100,000 bags were gathered and used across the county ahead of Hilary.
— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff