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La Jolla Parks & Beaches supports proposal for temporary pedestrian boardwalk at Windansea

Barricades surrounding a site awaiting construction at Windansea Beach create a hazard for pedestrians, residents say.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The board decides to form a working group to refine the concept to improve safety around a fenced construction site. It also backs a proposed La Jolla Park Coastal Historic District.

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The La Jolla Parks & Beaches board voted unanimously this week to support the concept of a pedestrian boardwalk at Windansea Beach as a way to improve pedestrian safety around a construction site and decided to form a working group to refine the idea.

LJP&B member Patrick Ahern made the motion at an emergency meeting of the board June 26, following its regular meeting. The issue was moved by unanimous vote to an emergency session because there wasn’t the required 72-hour notice for the regular agenda.

Ahern said the boardwalk is needed to keep pedestrians away from vehicle traffic as they are walking on Neptune Place, where the west sidewalk between Westbourne and Nautilus streets is barricaded while a bluff above the beach awaits repair of a faulty storm drain.

The city of San Diego plans to repair the storm drain, likely after the summer coastal construction moratorium is lifted after Labor Day. A city notice posted in May states the repair project requires an emergency coastal development permit to replace two stormwater inlets, 39 feet of 18-inch storm drain pipe, 30 feet of curb and gutter and 15 feet of wooden bluff fence, plus put in a new 20-foot-long, 6-foot-tall concrete retaining wall, backfill bluff and slope erosion and fix the sidewalk.

In May, Suzanne Baracchini of the Preserve Windansea Beach Association took the issue to the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board, asking for a temporary no-parking zone on the east side of Neptune so pedestrians would have more space and safety walking in the street.

Resident says a storm drain failure on Neptune Place is causing a pedestrian danger worsened by street parking making the road narrower for traffic.

May 19, 2023

T&T was unable to act on the request due to lack of a quorum. Baracchini said at the LJP&B meeting that the city denied the request.

Steve Hadley, representing San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said the city was hesitant because the California Coastal Commission doesn’t often allow removal of parking in a beach area.

In the meantime, the city erected a chain-link fence around the construction zone to alert pedestrians that the sidewalk is closed and direct them to cross the street.

However, most people walk down Neptune next to the fence, Ahern said. “It’s dangerous,” he said.

“The fence is not doing what they imagined it would do,” said Brenda Sacks, who lives on Westbourne Street at Neptune. “It is not keeping anybody off the street. ... It’s actually scary to watch.”

Ahern proposed a temporary wooden boardwalk on Neptune fronting the construction barricade, wide enough to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

The boardwalk would allow more access to Windansea Beach and the city could “take down the fences,” he said.

A proposed boardwalk would narrow Neptune Place.
A proposed boardwalk would narrow Neptune Place.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The addition of a boardwalk would narrow Neptune, meaning less space for two-way vehicle traffic, Ahern said.

Having Neptune narrowed temporarily would create situations similar to those on nearby streets like Monte Vista Avenue, he said.

“I’m a little worried about [Neptune] being a single lane,” Sacks said, noting that emergency vehicles need room for beach and ocean rescues.

Ahern said a working group could brainstorm the concept and other ideas.

In the meantime, Ahern urged people to continue reporting the issue on the city’s Get It Done app to keep it prominent.

Other LJP&B news

La Jolla Park Coastal Historic District: LJP&B also voted to approve a draft letter in support of an effort to designate part of the La Jolla coastline as a historic district.

Earlier in June, the La Jolla Shores Association voted to back the proposal for the La Jolla Park Coastal Historic District.

The area proposed for a La Jolla coastline historic district is based on an 1887 map.
(Screenshot by Elisabeth Frausto)

The proposal, led by Seonaid McArthur, chairwoman of the La Jolla Historical Society’s Landmark Committee, includes eight acres of coastal parkland between Torrey Pines Road and Coast Walk in the north and nearly the end of Coast Boulevard in the south.

Features of the district also would include beach access staircases, belvederes, the Children’s Pool seawall and more, McArthur said.

The California Office of Historic Preservation’s State Historical Resources Commission is scheduled to hear the nomination Friday, Aug. 4.

In its application, the Landmark Committee described 1887 to 1940 as “dates of significance.”

Committee member Molly McClain said it chose 1887 because that “was when the founders [developed] what was called ‘La Jolla Park.’”

The early developers left “a big stretch of land that was intended for public use” along the coast, McClain said. The move was important to the histories of La Jolla, San Diego, California and the West, she said.

“People with civic-mindedness and environmentally conscious people said, ‘No, you can’t build your houses all the way up to the coast,’” McClain said.

Seonaid McArthur discusses a proposed historic coastal district in La Jolla.
Seonaid McArthur, chairwoman of the La Jolla Historical Society’s Landmark Committee, discusses a proposed historic coastal district in La Jolla.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Development in the area ceased in 1940, she said. “After that, not really much was done in the area in terms of human activities, in terms of building things that last that we can still see.”

LJP&B member Jane Reldan asked how the historic district could affect the annual seasonal closure of the Children’s Pool for harbor seal pupping season.

“Nothing that this application will do will harm the seals in any way,” McClain said. “In fact, it’s intended to protect the entire coastline.”

The application “cannot affect any laws that are passed” to protect marine animals, she said, nor can it undermine any decisions made by city or state organizations regarding closures or access.

“The purpose is just to simply acknowledge that there is a historic past here,” McClain said.

Former LJP&B member Dan Allen expressed concern that a historic district would “undermine the work that we’ve all been putting in over the decades through the Community Plan,” which outlines guidance for La Jolla’s growth and development.

The historic district “shouldn’t affect” private property owners, said McArthur, who added that the owners of the few private sites in the application, such as Brockton Villa, Casa de Mañana and The Cave Store, all support the designation.

LJP&B approved the committee’s draft letter of support, which will be sent to the State Historical Resources Commission. Reldan was opposed, saying, “I don’t feel that my questions have been reassuringly answered.”

Next meeting: La Jolla Parks & Beaches next meets at 4 p.m. Monday, July 24, at the La Jolla/Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave. Learn more at lajollaparksbeaches.org. ◆