La Jolla Farms Road bluff collapses

A bluff collapsed at Black’s Beach around 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13. No one was injured.

According to San Diego Lifeguard Matt Sullivan, the collapse occurred when a semi-circular chunk of sandstone, jutting from the edge of a La Jolla Farms Road backyard, broke off and slid before coming to rest on the remnants of previous slides about two-thirds down the bluff.

“It’s a good thing we had the signage that we did up there, because it’s been keeping people away from that whole area,” Sullivan said, referring to a series of warning signs erected by the City geologist two months ago along the beach.

The slide caused a huge dust cloud that caught the attention of the driver of a nearby lobster boat, who dialed 911, Sullivan said. San Diego Fire & Rescue responded and left the scene after about an hour.

Sullivan advises all visitors to Black’s Beach to stay a good 60 feet away from the base of any cliff, “because stuff comes down all the time.”

Group rooting out beach erosion

The Black’s Beach Foundation has planted the first four of many Torrey Pines starts in a traffic island at the base of Salk Canyon Road.

“This is all from raining,” said Black’s Beach Foundation board member Ty Kramer, pointing at the trails of loose sand, silt and gravel slowly enveloping the beach-access rooad. “Every time it rains, this fills up with sand and it’s a muddy mess.”

Kramer and fellow board member Mark Bracker planted the trees after consulting with UC San Diego, which owns and maintains the property — as they did in 2014, when their private foundation helped UCSD construct two public restrooms, a private restroom for lifeguards and a storage facility for lifeguards at the base of Salk Canyon Road.

When they graded the road — originally for beach access to the Black family’s horse farm, which gave both the beach below and the street above their names — no attention was paid to erosion.

Tree roots stabilize soil, preventing erosion by binding the top layer — which would normally be swept away by water and wind — to lower layers.

Kramer wouldn’t say how many more tree starts would be planted. “We can’t talk about our whole plans because we’re still working them out with UCSD,” he said, “but there’s nothing that’s going to go in here that’s not native.”

Gilman Drive I-5 bridge unveiled

Hidden behind a large wooden and metal support structure for more than a year, the new Gilman Drive Bridge over Interstate 5 has been unveiled.

San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has been building the bridge, just north of the La Jolla Village Drive interchange, since November 2016. A joint project with Caltrans and UC San Diego, construction is proceeding concurrently with that of the Mid-Coast Trolley Blue extension.

When it opens to the public in 2019, the Gilman Drive bridge will add a second on-campus crossing over the freeway for UCSD staffers and students.

Red Cross needs blood

The American Red Cross reports a severe blood shortage after a significant shortfall in September and October donations. With the holidays around the corner, which historically bring a further decline in donations, blood and platelet donors and volunteer blood drive hosts are urgently needed to avoid delays in medical treatments now and throughout winter.

Upcoming blood-donation events in La Jolla are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20 and Thursday, Nov. 29 at the UC San Diego Library Walk, 9500 Gilman Drive. Appointments can be scheduled via or (800) 733-2767. Walk-in appointments are available, but may be associated with a wait.

Science of the supernatural at D.G. Wills

UC Berkeley neuroscientist and professor David E. Presti will discuss his new book, “Mind Beyond Brain: Buddhism, Science and the Paranormal,” 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 at D.G. Wills Books, 7461 Girard Ave. (858) 456-1800,

The talk will cover how evidence for anomalous phenomena — such as near-death experiences, apparent memories of past lives, apparitions and other so-called paranormal phenomena, including telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition — can influence the Buddhism-science conversation.

“We are delighted to host this distinguished scientist,” said D.G. Wills owner Dennis Wills.

Institute for Immunology shares new DNA database

Scientists at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) are sharing a trove of data that they think will prove vital for deciphering how natural genetic variations shape the immune system’s ability to fight disease.

Previous genome studies have linked thousands of variations in the genetic code to human disease. But such associations don’t readily reveal how these variations impact cellular function, or suggest how scientists might intervene to mitigate risk or treat disease.

For more than four years, a team of LJI scientists, led by associate professor Pandurangan Vijayanand, has sequenced and analyzed more than 1,500 genomes. They were surprised to find a deep and wide impact of variation on gene activity within the immune system. For more than 12,000 genes — about 60 percent of all active genes in these cells — naturally occurring variations correlate with significant differences in gene activity.

“And the effect sizes that we see are stunning,” Vijayanand said. “This is not some subtle change you’re looking at.”

The findings — reported in the Nov. 15, issue of the journal Cell — are available through LJI’s new Database of Immune Cell Expression (DICE), which allows researchers worldwide to easily explore the data as it relates to the genes, cell types, or diseases that interest them.

Charity League begins at home

The National Charity League’s (NCL) La Jolla-based Seaside chapter held its fourth annual Mother-Daughter Tea on Oct. 14 at the La Jolla Woman’s Club. The tea is a tradition dating back to NCL’s 1948 founding.

The three-year-old NCL Seaside Chapter reports a membership of 230 who volunteered more than 4,300 hours of service to San Diego this year. Members are women and their daughters in grades 7-12. For membership information, visit