2011: Oh what a year it was!

By Dave Schwab

daves@lajollalight.com

While global financial upset, continued Middle East turmoil, and the Republican presidential candidate race grabbed national headlines all this year, the local news here in La Jolla was, thankfully, a lot less chaotic.

Here’s a month-by-month reminder of what ocured in The Jewel in 2011.

January

• The 20-plus-year legal battle over the constitutionality of Mount Soledad’s landmark cross continued with a rally to defend keeping the Korean War Memorial centerpiece in place in the wake of the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling that the cross was an illegal religious symbol on federally owned land.

• Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) got the green light to do a $25 million climate research project.

• A master plan for long-anticipated Torrey Pines Road improvements was unveiled.

February

• A call for a new farmers market at La Jolla Methodist Church in Bird Rock was issued and later scuttled by neighbors’ opposition.

• Bird Rock neighbors turned up the heat on “Rancho Relaxo,” a nuisance residence notorious for permit violations, culminating in a $136,000 damage judgment for neighbors ultimately leading to the sale of the property and its redevelopment as a new home.

• At La Jolla High School (LJHS), student speech on three senior benches turned political rather than social when “Support Freedom for Iran” was posted, which school officials erased as improper. In June, a Superior Court judge ordered a preliminary injunction restraining LJHS officials from limiting messages that can be painted on those benches.

March

• La Jolla High School Foundation’s Board launched “Conquer the Cuts,” a five-week fundraising campaign that netted $154,000 to offset school budget cuts, saving programs and teaching jobs.

• A debate ensued when Bonair Street neighbors objected to the Riford Center’s plan to put an ADA-access ramp on their side of the building. Neighbors eventually prevailed and the ramp was built in the front of the building.

• Longtime Real Estate Brokers Association (REBA) manager Anna Galloway retired and was feted for her many years of service, while investor Kevin Kinsella renovated the old ivy-covered Copley Library turning it into exhibit space “for things of significance to La Jolla.”

April

• La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Inc., split from its parent body, La Jolla Town Council, to become an independent entity to continue its mission of advising the city on coastal parks and beaches.

• A jury deliberated two hours before returning a guilty verdict for reckless driving and hit-and-run to 66-year-old transient Ronald Troyer, who seriously injured three teens and two adults when he crashed through a Bird Rock roundabout and into a restaurant in August 2010.

• La Jolla Shores merchants rose up against a proposed storm water drain replacement project proposed for September 2012 that many feared would put them out of business. Their concerns led to formation of a community group that worked with the city culminating in a “shorter in length, smaller in scale” project.

May

• First District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner launched a community-wide “pothole patch.”

• Bob and Kim Whitney’s controversial three-story, mixed-use project in La Jolla Shores was put on hold after the City Council voted 6-1 not to approve the project until more extensive environmental review is done.

• After months of delay, downtown nightclub entrepreneur Mike Viscuso abandoned plans to redevelop the former Jack’s site on Girard Avenue noting the economy was not right to pursue the venture at this time.

June

• A stir was caused when irate Bird Rock neighbors discovered that “The Real World,” an MTV reality show, would be filming throughout the summer in a rented home in their midst.

• The Bishop’s School broke ground on its new library/learning center.

• La Jolla Historical Society held a press conference marking the three-quarter point in its capital campaign to raise $2 million in contributions to finish remodeling historic Wisteria Cottage and the rest of its complex.

July

• Marye Anne Fox, UCSD’s chancellor since 2004, announced she would be stepping down from her post in June 2012 to return to teaching and research.

• Rosemary Murietta, a Realtor with extensive experience with nonprofits, was selected as the La Jolla Village Merchants Association’s first executive director.

• San Diego’s Redistricting Commission approved a plan to divide the city of more than 1.3 million residents among nine City Council districts, including uniting all of La Jolla in the First Council District.

August

• Debbie Beacham was named Woman of the Year by the Surfing Walk of Fame for her work progressing women’s professional surfing.

• Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney had neighbors choosing sides over his extensive plans to remodel his $12 million oceanfront estate.

• Eddie V’s opened in the old Chart House site on Prospect Street, giving the Village one more fine dining establishment with an ocean view.

September

• Police put a speed stop on West Muirlands to increase enforcement after residents petitioned the city to take steps to improve pedestrian safety.

• The community mourned the passing of Academy Award-winning Actor Cliff Robertson, who grew up in La Jolla, and who died Sept. 9, a day after his 88th birthday.

• A Loma Portal woman, who allegedly took more than $3 million as a bookkeeper at Jack’s La Jolla Nightclub, pled not guilty to grand theft and embezzlement charges.

October

• A public workshop was held to gather ideas on how to beautify the plaza and Coast Walk in front of the Children’s Pool. Landscape architect Jim Neri got lots of suggestions that he will convert into a workable plan for making the area more pedestrian-friendly.

• Environmental Attorney Marco Gonzalez filed an application seeking more than $750,000 in fees for time spent in suing the city and the nonprofit La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation in an effort to require more environmental regulation — at greater expense — of fireworks displays over water.

• The third annual La Jolla Art and Wine Festival drew 15,000 guests, 15 wineries and 8 microbreweries. Next year, plans are to move the festival from Upper Girard to Prospect Street.

November

• A liquor store owner on La Jolla Boulevard replaced a giant arrow with a colorful seascape wall mural bowing to public pressure that the marker did not conform with the community’s design standards in its Planned District Ordinance (PDO).

• Nonprofit La Jolla Community Foundation took on landscaping of a teardrop-shaped median near “The Throat” intersection as its latest public improvement project.

• The community mourned the passing of high-profile Shores architect Dale Naegle who succumbed to cancer at age 83.

December

• Balinese-themed Pantai Inn opened bringing a new exotic look — and higher-end presence — to the La Jolla waterfront.

• A new downsized Hillel Jewish student center, proposed for the neighborhood across from UCSD, brought the same old opposition from residents who noted it was “a good project in the wrong spot.”

• The Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, combining the resources of five research institutions on Torrey Pines Mesa, opened its 4-story structure on Torrey Pines Scenic Drive. Researchers will focus on basic science pursuing projects to further stem cell research.

Other highlights:

• The La Jolla Community Foundation’s Murals of La Jolla project continued with the installation of five murals — plus the first of a series of interpretive panels overlooking the beach south of Scripps Pier. The Foundation said it has lined up artists for two more murals to be erected in 2012.

• La Jolla High School marked its 90th anniversary with a nostalgic homecoming theme: “Ninety Years on Nautilus.” Festivities included the annual LJHS Viking Alumni Reception and former and current teachers treated to a luncheon on campus hosted by the PTA and Alumni Association. Décor at the dance featured pictures from ‘50s and ‘60s La Jolla High yearbooks as well as images of homecoming queens from decades ago.

• The 50th anniversary of University of California, San Diego kicked off with a “Founder’s Day” celebration in November 2010 and festivities carried through June 2011 to tout the university's accomplishments. The year concluded with a weekend anniversary celebration honoring the more than 145,000 UCSD alumni worldwide and a select group of 50 luminaries.

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