2013: Another year in La Jolla’s rearview mirror

By Pat Sherman and Ashley Mackin


La Jolla Light

celebrated its 100th year of publication in 2013. We would once again like

to thank our readers for turning to us as their primary source for news and information about San Diego’s coastal Jewel. There was much to celebrate this year in La Jolla (and a few things to deliberate and outright bemoan). Here’s a recap of the year’s top stories.


Hands-on Leadership:

Fresh out of the gate, San Diego’s soon-to-be ex-mayor, Bob Filner, wasted no time asserting his authority at La Jolla Children’s Pool. In January alone, Filner extended the beach guideline rope to 152 feet, installed a webcam atop the old lifeguard tower to monitor harbor seals (and those who might harass them) and added temporary police surveillance to deter seal harassers — all seen as victories by marine mammal advocates, and an outrage by beach-access proponents.

‘Peacemaker’ Remembered:

La Jollans honored the memory of La Jolla philanthropist, attorney and law professor Murray Galinson (1937-2013), feted as a champion for the rights of women and minorities.

For the History Books:

La Jolla’s beleaguered post office at 1140 Wall St. received a federal historic designation — a feather in the cap of the 1935 WPA-era building that preservationists have fought to save since the U.S. Postal Service announced its pending closure and relocation of its services. The post office remains open, its future uncertain.

Merchants’ Big Splash:

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association opened the La Jolla Village Information Center at 1162 Prospect St. with high hopes and bare bones — nearly quadrupling rent the association paid at its former space on Herschel Avenue. As the year progressed, the association sought to sell advertising on flat screen TVs and via window displays, though it never quite caught on. To pay rent, the association now subleases a majority of the space to Sotheby’s International Realty.


Bidding Adieu to an Era

: La Vallencia’s iconic Whaling Bar (a preferred watering hole and place of intellectual discourse for the likes of Gregory Peck, Raymond Chandler and other high profile patrons) served its last snifter of cognac. The space is now in the final stages of a remodel, and will soon reopen as the expanded Café La Rue, with sidewalk seating along Prospect Street.

100 Years!

Grande Colonial Hotel on Prospect Street celebrated its 100th birthday.

Beach Brutality:

The Seal Cam at Children’s Pool filmed two young women appearing to kick, punch and sit on seals during the night. The story was picked up by news outlets around the globe, sparking outrage over the alleged incident. The women were never located and some people later questioned the veracity of the footage, speculating that the incident could have been staged to garner support for the Seal Cam (whose operators, WAN Conservancy, La Jolla Light later learned requested $283,000 per year to operate the camera and monitor footage).


Starving for Attention: A mysterious, albeit short-lived, “starvation trend” afflicted sea lion pups off the La Jolla coast and elsewhere in Southern California. Dehydrated and malnourished, dozens of pups hobbled their way up from the beach onto La Jollans’ patios, into the passenger seat of a vehicle and as far inland as the onramp to Interstate 5.


Rope Length to Remain

: In a suit brought against the city by beach access advocates, a San Diego Superior Court judge ruled that the barrier rope at Children’s Pool would stay up year-round. In March, a judge ruled that the rope would not return to its previous, 132 feet-length (which offered more prominent access to the shoreline).

Art is in the Air:

The La Jolla Community Foundation unveils two new murals: Fred Tomaselli’s “Learning to Fly (for the Zeros)” at Torrey Pines Road and Girard Avenue in the Village, and Julian Opie’s “Walking in the City 1 and 2” on La Jolla Boulevard in Bird Rock. Gajin Fujita’s “Tail Whip” was installed the following month on Fay Avenue. Two others follow in the fall.


Hotel Parisi Closes:

Located at the corner of Prospect Street and Herschel Avenue, Hotel Parisi was shut after 14 years in the Village. The upscale hotel made

Travel + Leisure

magazine’s list of the Top 100 Hotels in North America.

Curious Political Bedfellows:

Former Mayor Filner and former presidential candidate (and part-time La Jollan) Mitt Romney met to discuss Romney lending his organizational acumen to help San Diego bid for the 2024 Olympic Summer Games, which Filner envisioned as a binational event hosted by the United States and Mexico.

Hallowed Walls:

Mount Soledad Memorial Association unveiled five new memorial walls where the public may dedicate plaques in honor of war veterans.


Cove Cleansing:

After a year-and-a-half listening to La Jollan’s gripe about the stench from La Jolla Cove — affecting business, tourism and quality of life — the city (with a push from Mayor Filner) was able to bypass state and federal bureaucracy and begin cleansing bird guano from the Cove cliffs. The cleansing largely eradicated the smell during summer, though it returned later in the year.

MESOM Opens:

Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Marine Ecosystem Sensing, Observation and Modeling (MESOM) laboratory opened without incident. La Jolla planning groups previously said Scripps and UC San Diego misled the community about the three-story building’s actual bulk and scale, and the amount of coastal views it would obscure from La Jolla Shores Drive.



Nearing his final days as mayor, Filner declared the first round of cleanup at the Cove a success.

Fat Lady Still Not Singing:

The U.S. Postal Service issued its “final determination” of plans to sell the building housing the Wall Street post office.

Money Management Woes:

La Jolla High School Principal Dana Shelburne is reassigned following an audit indicating the school’s Associated Student Body funds had been misappropriated. La Jolla High announces the search for a new principal (the search is still ongoing).

Playing Ball:

La Jolla High School graduate Pat Christensen is drafted to the Houston Astros in the 27th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft.

‘La Jolla Women Don’t Belong in the


Plans to redevelop the 30,000-square-foot Jack’s restaurant and nightclub into the boutique La Plaza La Jolla shopping complex are supported by the La Jolla Village Merchant’s Association. The space, which had been mostly vacant since 2009, is scheduled to reopen in February or March of 2014.


Tower Rebirth:

Demolition of the old Children’s Pool lifeguard tower began. Ongoing construction of the new tower will cease at the start of the harbor seals’ pupping season, Dec. 15, and resume in June, 2014.

New Blood:

The La Jolla Community Foundation names Julie Bronstein as its new executive director. Job 1: Work with community groups to launch the foundation’s Partners in Grime initiative to clean up La Jolla.

Good Sports:

La Jolla High School named Paula Conway its first female Athletic Director and former Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers football player Jason Carter to coach the La Jolla High Vikings’ football team.

‘Don’t Let the Door …’:

Mayor Filner resigned from office after facing multiple allegations of sexual harassment from female staffers and women he encountered while in office. In his televised exit address, Filner cited his cleanup efforts at the Cove as one of his successes as mayor.


Cove Cliff Redux:

A second round of Cove cleanup, using a microbial agent to digest the odoriferous bird guano, took place. During the application, Blue Eagle Distribution crews sprayed all the areas of the cliffs they could safely access.

Beach Closure:

The San Diego Planning Commission voted to recommend that the city council adopt an ordinance that would close the beach at La Jolla Children’s Pool (aka Casa Beach) to all human access during the harbor seals’ five-month pupping season (Dec. 15-May 15).

Second-Hand Splendor:

The La Jolla Town Council hosts a fashion show and fundraiser, featuring clothes available at the recently opened Goodwill Store.


Dancing for Dollars:

La Jolla Town Council presented “La Jolla Dancing with the Stars,” a fundraiser at the Hilton Torrey Pines Hotel that paired 10 La Jolla and San Diego notables with professional dancers. The event sold out and raised $6,000 for the Town Council, La Jolla Christmas Parade, La Jolla Community Center, and Warriors and Quiet Waters.

Shores Opening:

After several delays, the newly unveiled La Jolla Shores Lifeguard Tower hosted an open house for the community to explore the $3.8 million facility.

Cautionary Tale:

An SUV carrying 16 teenagers rolls over after its 16-year-old driver attempts a motorsport trick known as “drifting” on Muirlands Vista Way in La Jolla. Thirteen passengers were injured in the accident. Charges are pending.


New Day:

U-T San Diego


La Jolla Light

and MainStreet Media’s six sister-papers, creating a new division, U-T Community Press, to operate them.

Giving as an Art:

The La Jolla Community Center unveiled its donor wall, thanking those who contributed to ongoing renovations and improvements at the center. The board of directors also launched a tradition to name a “Citizen of the Year.” The inaugural inductee was Don Hodges.

Obstinate Odor:

Residents and merchants discover that the Cove odor has returned after two “successful” cleansing treatments. In response, city officials cited the sea lions hauling out at the Cove as the new culprits of the infamous stench. A comprehensive plan to minimize and manage with the source of the smell is being explored.

New Eateries:

The development of three new restaurants is announced for Avenida de la Playa in La Jolla Shores.


Benefactor Steps Forward:

La Jolla resident Tom Morgan pledged $200,000 to the Children’s Pool Walk beautification project, bringing the total raised to $250,000. Project plans include widening the walkway in front of Children’s Pool, adding an overlook to the gazebo, and replacing old planters with new ones to cover crumbling walls.

Help Wanted:

The City of San Diego reaches out to other cities with large sea lion populations to explore possible solutions to the stench at the Cove. The city also considers, but does not announce, a formal decision on establishing a gate/opening in the fence at the Cove to allow human access onto the cliffs (as a deterrent to the sea lion population there).


A federal judge orders the removal of the Mount Soledad cross, deeming it unconstitutional. The order was stayed until all possible appeals can be heard. The Mount Soledad Memorial Association has filed such an appeal