La Jolla 2017 Year in Review: Some things never change ...


In case you’ve forgotten all the major news events in La Jolla this year due to too much eggnog, here’s a recap!

January 2017

Track closed: La Jolla High School opened its doors from winter break Jan. 3, but the school’s track and field remained closed to the public. The track was renovated in 2016 as part of a multi-year, multi-million-dollar upgrade to the athletic facility. When the facility reopened to students, principal Charles Podhorsky determined it would be closed to the public.

Speaking up against plane noise: Continuing its community advocacy and quest to stop the influx of plane noise, La Jolla residents attend and speak at the Airport Noise Advisory Committee (ANAC) meeting.

Meet Barbara Bry: City Council member Barbara Bry begins her term as District 1’s representative and, on Jan. 5, attends the La Jolla Community Planning Association meeting to outline her priorities at City Hall and introduce her team.

Princess Street to reopen: Easement documents for the Princess Street beach access are filed, concluding a decades-long battle to reopen the access. Documents filed with the California Coastal Commission note there is a public access lane adjacent a private home on Princess Street that will be part of the property record going forward. This would launch an effort to make the access safe for public use so it could be reopened.

‘Stench’ appeal denied: Oral arguments are pessimistically delivered Jan. 10 to appeal the decision in the La Jolla-based Citizens for Odor Nuisance Abatement (CONA) vs. the City of San Diego lawsuit. The hope was that a judge would overrule the premise that the City is not responsible for the odor at La Jolla Cove, but the decision stood.

$1 million to charity: The La Jolla-based women’s philanthropy group, Las Patronas, distributes more than $1 million to San Diego non-profits and presents La Jolla Light with its “Spirit of Giving” award.

Inauguration Day: Students from La Jolla Country Day School travel to Washington D.C. to witness the swearing-in of President Donald Trump and participate in the national women’s march.

Rent local, No Deco: Concerned residents of La Jolla, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach gather at La Jolla Community Center Jan. 30 to protest the City’s bike-share program, DecoBike. Opponents say they are not opposed to bike-sharing, but opposed to DecoBike due to its poor reviews, lack of helmets and locks, incompatibility with La Jolla’s terrain and more. The group decided to write to political officials to state their opposition and launched a petition against DecoBike.

Sammy’s is back!: On Jan. 30, Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill celebrated its reopening with a ribbon-cutting. The eatery closed the previous September after a fire. With the reopening, owner Sami Ladecki launched a new menu.

JCC bomb threat: The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center received the first of what would be many bomb threats on Jan. 31. At the time, JCCs in at least four other states received similar threats.

Playground proposal: La Jolla Park & Recreation, Inc. gets a first look at how its playground could be rearranged to make room for an additional sport court as part of its overall renovation project. The board does not, and has yet to, vote on whether to completely rearrange the playground or replace equipment in a way that makes the playground ADA-compliant.

February 2017

The Conrad breaks ground: The La Jolla Music Society breaks ground for the 49,000-square-foot Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, at 7600 Fay Ave. “The Conrad,” is scheduled to open in early 2019 and be the permanent home for the Music Society.

No word from the FAA: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hosts an informational meeting on perceived increases in airplane noise Feb. 2, but provides no explanation for the source of the noise. “In the last seven years, air traffic has increased in Southern California. I’m not saying that explains everything, but there’s definitely more flights,” a public information officer said. Added an air traffic controller: “There has been no changes (in FAA procedures) in the 10 years I’ve worked here.”

Women’s Heart Center: Scripps Health opens a Women’s Heart Center in La Jolla, at the John R. Anderson V Medical Pavilion. Physicians say the center will seek to

empower patients to take care of their hearts through education, lifestyle choices and medical care when needed.

All American girl: Bishop’s School basketball star Destiny Littleton is selected for the All American Games, out of more than 800 athletes nationwide who were vetted for the team.

Constant complaints: At the Feb. 15 Airport Noise Advisory Committee meeting, it is announced that La Jolla has lodged more complaints about airplane noise than Point Loma. At the same meeting, it’s announced a seat has opened up on an advisory sub-committee and a La Jolla resident can apply for the spot.

Bomb threat No. 2: On Feb. 21, the Lawrence Family JCC received its second bomb threat of the year.

Solidarity Sundays: The La Jolla chapter of Solidarity Sundays has its first meeting to encourage the politically charged women of San Diego to engage with elected officials. The group hangs a banner on the Torrey Pines Road footbridge that reads “Resist.”

Seventh CIF: The Bishop’s School Knights girl’s water polo team wins its seventh CIF championship against cross-town rivals La Jolla High School.

Shooing effort shot down: After La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory board and the La Jolla Town Council asked the City to authorize a local group to deter sea lion congregation at La Jolla Cove, they are informed via a memo from the City that a private group cannot be the entity charged with shooing away sea lions.

Bomb threat No. 3: On Feb. 27, Lawrence Family JCC receives a third bomb threat.

March 2017

Coast Walk bridge closed: The City closes the Coast Walk Bridge, a walking path that connects Torrey Pines Road to Coast Boulevard, citing erosion.

Metroplex live!: The FAA plan known as Metroplex goes into effect March 2, to use satellite technology to direct planes on their routes. Under this plan, planes would be able to “idle down” in their approaches and fly further out to sea (and away from the coast) on departure, ideally reducing noise and saving fuel.

McCann seated: La Jolla resident Chris McCann is seated as a representative on the Airport Noise Advisory Committee sub-committee.

Bomb threat arrest: On March 3, Juan Thompson is arrested in connection to the bomb threats at the Lawrence Family and other JCCs. Thompson was found to be making the threats in the name of a woman he was cyberstalking. He is arrested in Missouri. A second suspect is arrested a few weeks later.

Shack plaque: A historical landmark plaque is placed at the WindanSea Shack — 70 years after the iconic shelter was constructed. It reads: “The surf shack WindanSea beach built by returning World War II surfers in 1947 for shade and aloha.”

Conservation facility concerns: La Jolla Community Planning Association hears plans for the UC San Diego Marine Conservation facility, and expresses concerns about the height and possible loss of views.

Track compromise: La Jolla High School principal Charles Podhorsky offers a reduced rate to rent the facilities through the San Diego Unified School District for public to use the campus track. The fees include $53.50 to rent the field, including restrooms; $43 per hour for a facilities manager; $40 for custodian. However, the rental fee could be waived.

Soccer CIF: La Jolla High School girls soccer team takes home its first CIF title since 2011.

Off-lease dog citations: San Diego County Department of Animal Services issues a warning about off-leash dogs in Calumet Park in Bird Rock. In one March weekend, 11 citations were issued for off-leash dogs.

Burns conversion construction: Construction begins to renovate the former Burns Drugs space, to become a commercial/residential mixed-use property.

Lights out: La Jolla Light looks at a shortage of streetlights in La Jolla, with 33 out of 74 “acorn” street lights out at one time in The Shores and several more along Wall Street and Herschel Avenue. It is believed old wiring may be the cause. The City says it will investigate.

Short-term vacational rentals: San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott issues an opinion that states the Municipal Code does not allow for short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods. Nine days later, a San Diego City Council sub-committee agreed on regulations for home-sharing (with the homeowner on site), but could not agree on regulations for whole-house rentals.

Know your local sea lion: Signage goes up at La Jolla Cove with facts about seals and sea lions, including safe interaction tips, part of a City plan to ease public and lifeguard frustrations.

April 2017

No selfies with seals: More signage goes up about pinnipeds in La Jolla, this time about seals south of Children’s Pool. The new signage advises beach-goers not to take “selfies” with the seals.

Track issue revisited: Dissatisfied with the principal’s proposed compromise, proponents of free, open access to La Jolla High School’s track and field take to community groups such as La Jolla Parks & Beaches to plead their case and garner support.

Calle subdivision: La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee is introduced to a controversial plan, dubbed the Calle del Cielo project, to sub-divide a 4.45-acre site into eight lots and sell each lot so a house can be built upon it. Although renderings for these houses are presented, they are only tentative as whomever purchases the lots could build the house of their choice.

First 100 days: Council member Barbara Bry speaks at the La Jolla Community Center about her first 100 days in office. She discusses her early progress on developing an ordinance to address short-term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods.

Memory Lab: La Jolla Library opens its Memory Lab, which houses equipment to convert antiquated storage devices (floppy disks, VHS tapes, slides) into modern formats. Volunteers also instruct how to preserve the originals.

Phase II update: La Jolla Community Planning Association is updated on the upcoming Torrey Pines Road Corridor Project Phase II, which includes the installation of a pedestrian-activated crosswalk, replacing the center median, adding a bike lane and slope restoration.

New sidewalk: Construction begins on 1,100 linear feet of new sidewalk along Coast Boulevard, as part of the Whale View Point Shoreline Enhancement Project.

Best in Show: The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance car show sets record attendance.

Death from above: A male hiker falls to his death from the cliffs of the Torrey Pines Gliderport. The fall prompts the City to examine the area for ways it could improve safety and signage.

Sewage spill: An estimated 1,350 gallons of sewage spills from the Fern Glen pump station April 20, causing WindanSea Beach to close for three days.

Greatrex resigns: Former La Jolla Park & Recreation, Inc. chair Cindy Greatrex resigns from her position, citing conflict with other board members.

Children’s Pool historicity? City engineers announce the Children’s Pool Walk Beautification project would be delayed so they could investigate whether the wall that surrounds Children’s Pool qualifies as historic, and ways to scale down the project from its original incarnation.

Skate park proposal: La Jolla Park & Recreation, Inc. hears a proposal to construct a skate park at La Jolla Rec Center, as part of a larger renovation project. The board does not vote on the proposal.

Hillel clears Planning Commission: San Diego Planning Commission unanimously approves plans for the long-contested Hillel Center for Jewish Life. For more than 17 years, nearby residents argued the location was inappropriate, but after three hours of testimony, the Planning Commission voted to support the Center. The project advances to the City Council.

Su Casa demolition OK’d: San Diego Planning Commission approves plans to demolish the Su Casa restaurant at 6738 La Jolla Blvd. and construct a two-story residential building and three mixed-use buildings.

Shooting in UC: A mass shooting takes place at the La Jolla Crossroads apartment complex in University City, when a resident opens fire at the apartment’s pool, hitting seven people and killing one: Monique Clark. The shooter is killed by police.

May 2017

McMansion plans: A group called the Citizens for Responsible Coastal Development drafts its incentive-based zoning regulations and circulates it to community groups for review. The regulations would address the proliferation of “McMansions,” houses that are out of character with the neighborhood and larger than surrounding homes.

Conservation facility reduced: UC San Diego announces it had downsized the Marine Conservation facility, introduced to the community in March, and that a eucalyptus tree would be removed to open up more ocean views.

Enhance La Jolla meets: Enhance La Jolla, the board that would administer the Maintenance Assessment District approved by voters in 2016, holds its first meeting.

Repair requests ignored: A handful of repair requests from the Bird Rock Community Council (chiefly orange netting that surrounds a landscaped overlook at Midway Street, a buckled sidewalk and missing bus stop benches) go seemingly ignored by the City. Council members say reports were made through the City’s Get It Done app, but there’s no sign of anything being done.

UCSD development woes: Residents of the Blackhorse residential complex opposed to the planned UC San Diego Living and Learning Neighborhood organize and speak out against the development, planned at six buildings (five of which exceed 10 stories) on 11 acres.

Coastal Management Plan: The long-awaited Marine Coastal Management Plan, intended to guide City planning when it comes to the burgeoning sea lion population at La Jolla Cove and surrounding beaches, is released. Among its findings are courses of action the City could take to address problems stemming from pinniped-human interactions, but the report concludes: “California sea lions are not likely to abandon the La Jolla area” and “the City is in a position to develop strategies of how to best live with them and hopefully take advantage of their presence.”

Airplane noise sub-committee: La Jolla Town Council forms its airport noise sub-committee to act as a liaison between the community and appropriate airport authorities, and provide updates when available.

Calle project gets first green light: La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance board approves the Calle del Cielo project to create an eight-lot subdivision in La Jolla Shores. It proceeds to the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee.

Finally! A week ahead of its Memorial Day deadline, construction is complete on Avenida de la Playa. The work was carried out for four years (with breaks in the summer and winter) to replace underground infrastructure, and often meant closing portions of The Shores’ main thoroughfare.

More lifeguards, please: In response to the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget, City Council member Barbara Bry requests funding be made available for an additional lifeguard at the Children’s Pool lifeguard tower, which had been understaffed in recent years.

June 2017

Taking a bow: On June 11, La Jolla Symphony and Chorus director David Chase conducts his last concert after more than 40 years.

Leadership crisis: La Jolla Community Planning Association faces a crisis in leadership when former chair Cindy Greatrex abdicates her seat after missing three meetings, and there is not a willing trustee to step into the role. Until a solution is found, the first vice-president and second-vice president would alternate chairing meetings and distributing notices.

Construction overload: Hillside Drive residents are rattled by the presence of several construction trucks and illegal parking on their narrow, winding street. Drivers must maneuver around these vehicles during the many concurrent construction projects.

Airplane noise app: La Jolla resident and ANAC sub-committee member Chris McCann creates an app to make reporting airplane noise easier.

Bummer Beach: Heal the Bay issues its annual report card and list of “bummer beaches” for the previous year. For the first time, La Jolla Cove made the bummer beach list, largely due to the water quality advisory that had been posted in August 2016. It is the only beach in San Diego to make the list.

Welcome Tim: Tim Chelling is appointed the new executive director of the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Association, and announces plans to elevate the memorial to the ranks of nationally recognized memorials such as the Vietnam Wall in Washington D.C.

Get that diploma: More than 370 Vikings graduate from La Jolla High School, 215 of them with academic honors.

Stanchion plan: La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation board hears a proposal to install stanchions at the foot of Playa del Norte to deter illegal parking and congregating. Residents report illegal activity including drug use and vandalism. The area is red curbed and striped to indicate no parking.

Stair replacement begins: Construction begins on the Horseshoe Beach stair reinstatement, more than a year-and-a-half after the stairs are blown from their hinges. The stair replacement was classified as an emergency and cost an estimated $250,000 to fix.

Calle Cielo gets a thumbs down: La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee members deny the Calle del Cielo sub-division project, citing drainage issues, concerns that the City would carry out a substantial conformance review when the houses are ready to be built. The project proceeds to its last local review board: the La Jolla Community Planning Association.

Beach access manager: Environmental Center of San Diego announces plans to manage the Princess Street access project to the La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory group. The next steps are to survey the area and determine safety needs, and design a natural system by which beach goers could safely climb down the cliff to the beach, possibly including ropes and stairs.

Mailboxes moved: Mailboxes fronting houses on a portion of Muirlands Vista Way are removed and replaced with a centralized delivery point for that area, to make the sidewalks more ADA-compliant.

July 2017

Greatrex accused: Charges of grand theft by employee are filed on July 5 against Cindy Greatrex, accusing the former La Jolla Park & Recreation, Inc. board chair of stealing more than $67,000 from Rec Center funds, a charge she adamantly denies.

Rec Center donation: A grant from the Ellen Browning Scripps Foundation to “maintain the physical plant and extend the current programs” of the Rec Center is presented.

La Jolla aircraft noise study revealed: Members of an Airport Noise Advisory Committee sub-committee are surprised to learn that Airport Authority staff has been monitoring plane noise at Bird Rock and Soledad Mountain. Since Oct. 2016, residents have complained that planes were flying closer to the coast, and at a lower altitude. But they were assured by the FAA that no changes were made to flight paths that would increase airplane noise in La Jolla before March 2017.

La Jolla Cove Hotel & Suites remodel: Rooms at the hotel, at 1155 Coast Blvd., were made more spacious, repainted and outfitted with new carpeting.

Mermaid mural to honor late La Jolla swimmer: La Jolla Town Council announces that a mermaid mosaic, memorializing record-breaking swimmer and La Jolla resident Anne Cleveland, will be installed along the stairs at La Jolla Cove.

August 2017

Water quality advisory for Cove: On Aug. 3-4, bacteria levels exceed health standards, prompting the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health to warn people not to enter the water at The Cove, which is sampled weekly, year round.

Park plans skate into wall: Plans for a Rec Center skateboard park are unanimously rejected during a La Jolla Park & Rec (LJPR) board meeting mobbed by disapproving neighbors.

Jews rally against hate: Responding to the Nazi flags present during the tragic Charlottesville, Va.. rally, during which one counter-protester was killed when a car drove into the crowd, the Leichtag Foundation hosts a “stand up against hate” rally at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center.

Parks & Beaches seeks Children’s Pool designation: La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory board votes to pursue historical designation for the Children’s Pool built by Ellen Browning Scripps in 1931.

YMCA opens to public: La Jolla’s Dan McKinney Family YMCA, under construction in varying phases since a $21 million expansion broke ground in 2015, opens its doors at 8355 Cliffridge Ave.

September 2017

Calle del Cielo gets a thumbs up: Despite its rejection by LJSPRC, the controversial subdivision project is approved by the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) after three sub-committee hearings, one special meeting and more than four hours of LJCPA debate over two months. The vote to approve is 9-5-2.

Squeaky Bird Rock gets greased: After months of requests and reports, missing MTS bus benches and an uneven sidewalk are repaired by the City. The Bird Rock Community Council (BRCC) had been requesting these repairs be addressed via the City’s Get It Done app and e-mail requests, but it wasn’t until after District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry attended a BRCC meeting that any changes were actually made.

DecoBike scrapped: The City cancels its bike-sharing program before it even reaches La Jolla. DecoBike kiosks elsewhere along the coastline are removed as the City shifts focus to bike-sharing in San Diego’s “urban core.”

Horseshoe stairs reopen: Just in time for Labor Day, the beach access stairs located between 100-200 Coast Blvd. opens to the public.

Bry rep ripped on rental compromise: Hilary Nemchik faces La Jolla’s version of an angry mob at the Sept. 14 Town Council meeting, where she is pummeled by objection after objection to an early version of District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry’s short-term rental proposal.

Enhance La Jolla announces master plan: As manager of the Village’s Maintenance Assessment District, the board announces at its Sept. 19 meeting that it will work with the La Jolla Community Foundation to help beautify the Village.

Lifeguard Station poorly planned: According to a report from the Office of the City Auditor, failure to account for design requests and upgrades, well into its construction phase, is the main reason the Children’s Pool Lifeguard Station was $1.6 million over budget and two-and-a-half years off schedule.

Neighborhood Watch groups quadruple: The number of La Jolla grassroots activism groups jumps from 10 in September 2016 to 44. An increase in residential burglaries in summer 2016 spurred the change and the addition of a citizen’s crime advisory committee under the La Jolla Town Council. The La Jolla-area groups have refined their approach and seen a reduction in burglaries.

October 2017

Sanitation worker pinned, killed: David Strobridge, 22, is killed on Oct. 2 when his unoccupied garbage truck pins him against a wall in an access road off Herschel Avenue. He dies at Scripps Memorial.

Raising Hillel: After more than two hours of debate and public testimony — and 17 years of processing — the Glickman Hillel Center for Jewish Life is unanimously approved by the San Diego City Council on Oct. 3.

Munk Rock: La Jolla Shores renames its boardwalk “Walter Munk Way” on the eve of the local science hero’s 100th birthday, as the Scripps oceanographer is swarmed like a rock star by emotional fans. Munk takes the wind out of the proceedings by declaring that, 100 years from now, the street now bearing his name will probably be underwater.

La Jolla surf legend passes away: Bill Andrews, an icon to local surfers since gracing the cover of Surfing magazine in 1964, dies at age 73 on Oct. 26. The circumstances of his death are not revealed, but he was diagnosed with ALS in 2016 and had told the Light he intended to end his life while he still had use of his hands.

Noise report submitted: La Jolla faces unique noise exposure from the skies due to its topography, a low ambient score and the double-whammy of passenger planes in the morning and at night and military planes during the day. Such are the findings of a study conducted by an airport engineering and consulting firm presented to the Airport Noise Advisory Committee during its Oct. 18 meeting.

Bocce ball rolls: La Jolla Park & Recreation, Inc. votes to approve the $7,000 installation of a bocce ball court at the Rec Center.

Art & Wine Fest: The ninth annual art walk draws more than 40,000 browsers and carouses to The Village, raising more than $150,000 for local public schools.

November 2017

Church cancels homeless meals: Mary, Star of the Sea Church pastor Rev. Jim Rafferty shocks San Diego by canceling a holiday meals program for the less fortunate, in addition to the regular, bi-weekly meals served by So Others May Eat at the church for almost a decade. Rafferty cites the County’s Hepatitis A outbreak as the reason.

MAD-dening news for tax supporters: A San Diego Superior Court judge sets aside the La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District (MAD), through which the City had planned to collect more than $500,000 in tax revenue in 2018 for trash collection, sidewalk power-washing and landscape maintenance. The decision comes on the heels of a lawsuit from some property owners claiming they were taxed twice for services.

Greatrex going to trial: After almost three days of testimony and cross-examination in the preliminary hearing for “The People versus Cindy Greatrex,” San Diego Superior Court Judge Amalia L. Meza finds on Nov. 30 that the people meet the burden of proof to necessitate a trial. She is accused of stealing more than $67,000 from La Jolla Recreation Center funds.

Aviatrix honored with plaque: On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial honors distinguished Air Force aviator and late La Jolla resident Jacqueline Cochran with a plaque.

La Jollans flood USCD to oppose expansion: About 50 La Jolla neighbors attend UC San Diego’s Nov. 29 presentation of its draft environmental impact report (EIR) on the Living & Learning Neighborhood, intending to protest that the area is already too congested for its construction. They are not permitted to speak during or after UCSD’s 40-minute presentation, but are instead directed to a separate room to make statements.

‘Mansionization’ initiative OK: The La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) votes to send an incentive-based zoning proposal, developed over two years by the Citizens for Responsible Coastal Development committee, to the City for refinement and review.

December 2017

Greatrex arraigned: Cindy Greatrex pleads not guilty to all charges at her arraignment for felony grand theft in San Diego Superior Court. A trial is set for Monday, March 12. At the hearing, Greatrex shows up with a new lawyer, John D. Kirby.

Sea lion gates approved: The California Coastal Commission gives the City the go-ahead to install gates at La Jolla Cove to prevent sea lions from climbing the stairs.

Ballad of the bollards: The LJCPA votes to remove the stanchions (aka bollards) installed in March at the foot of Playa del Norte in Windansea — along with the striping on the street that prohibits parking. Two 15-minute parking spaces are installed in their stead.

Parks & Beaches advises City: La Jolla Parks & Beaches advisory board (LJP&B) drafts what’s being called an “impressive expansion” of its annual list of unfunded capital projects for the City to implement. The more than a dozen items area categorized as a “Capital Improvement Project.”

City Council fails to enact STVR proposal: The long-debated question of how to regulate short-term rentals in the coastal areas of San Diego will be debated even longer. Multiple proposals, some more permissive than others, are floated before the nine City Council members but none could secure five votes.

City Council changes how rec councils handle money: Its narrowly approved new policy moves purse-string control to the City from 52 individual recreation councils.

Christmas parades through La Jolla: The 60th cavalcade features 80 entrants — including a dozen floats — and draws 20,000 onlookers.