La Jolla High School track use debated at Town Council meet

It was a different kind of track meet at the La Jolla Town Council meeting Oct. 12, as pro and con faced off in the debate on access to La Jolla High School’s athletic facilities at the Rec Center.

Residents, including Ryan Hobson, complained that they used the athletic facilities after school hours for years and never harmed them, and want to continue being able to do so. One 71-year-old audience member testified how walking the track was how he stayed in shape.

But La Jolla High School principal Chuck Podhorsky held his ground, reiterating his stance on keeping the facilities private, even though they’re at a public school.

“Although taxpayers approved taxes … public schools are built for students,” he said. “As much as I would like all my neighbors to be happy, I cannot take on the management of an athletic facility for the public.”

Podhorsky cited concerns about liability, maintenance and security — including keeping homeless people away from children, who frequently entered school in the morning and encountered them on the field. He noted that a perpetually broken fence only gave the impression that the facilities were open to the public when they never were. And he said that school district money was just not available to support what some members of the public are asking.

President Ann Kerr Bache ended the discussion, as the clock ran into overtime, by asking Podhorsky and the school’s athletic director Paula Conway to consider some kind of compromise in which the gate could possibly be open to the public until 8 p.m. (Read Podhorsky’s Guest Commentary, A18.)

Bry compromise backed

Also at the meeting, the La Jolla Town Council unanimously approved a motion to support District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry’s compromise on short-term rentals, limiting them to primary residents of a home for 90 days a year. Despite overwhelming objection to the proposal at last month’s Town Council meeting, Bache called Bry’s proposal “the lesser of two evils” compared to District 3 City Council member Chris Ward’s, which favors no short-term rental limits.

This agenda item was originally a forum, but Bache called a vote after Mauricio Medina, Bry’s representative, informed her that a vote on short-term rentals would definitely happen at the City Council meeting on Oct. 23.

Passionate speeches were delivered by members of the Pacific Beach and Mission Beach Town Councils, and by Save San Diego Neighborhoods president Tom Coat, but they were shut down by Bache, who said: “As much as I believe in your cause, I don’t think there’s a snowball’s chance to go back 15 years.”

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