Advisory groups to weigh in on Scripps Master Plan

A final draft for a comprehensive, long-term master plan for Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Park is out for public review and will soon be presented to local planning advisory groups, one by one, for their input.

Titled “Scripps Park Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: An Action Plan,” the 33-page document contains a history of the coastal, 5.6-acre park, charts, maps, a mission statement denoting the plan’s objectives, policy statements about future park development and recommendations for improving landscaping and park maintenance. The action plan finishes up with a discussion of multiple funding sources to implement the plan.

A 15-member steering committee known as the Scripps Park Project has been working on putting a master plan for Ellen Browning Scripps Park together since 2001. Group chair Patrick Ahern said it’s now time to move past the planning phase of the project.

“The Scripps Park Project is in unanimous agreement about the plan,” said Ahern. “Our next step is to go out to the community and see if they agree.”

The first stop for public review of the park master plan will be the Parks & Beaches Committee of La Jolla Town Council, then Promote La Jolla and the Community Planning Association before, ultimately, the plan goes to the City Council for their consideration. “It’s taken a lot of work, a lot of input,” added Ahern. “We’ve listened well. That’s reflected in this plan.”

David Singer, a La Jolla architect who’s worked on developing the park master plan, said it’s a project that’s long overdue. Singer said: “Scripps Park is a unique jewel within the Jewel, and it needs a more detailed master plan. There were starts and stops over the years. People said, ‘What do we need a master plan for?’ We need to have a master plan with guidelines to say, ‘That’s a good idea, but not over here, or maybe, that should not be in the park at all.’ We needed to come up with something that future generations could look at and use as guidelines.”

Singer said a long-term strategy also needed to be developed for Scripps Park to streamline and improve park landscaping and maintenance, which have suffered as a consequence of the city of San Diego’s budget cutbacks caused by its ongoing fiscal crisis. “The city has budget issues,” noted Singer, “so it’s left to us to say, ‘How do we keep this park as beautiful as it is?’”

Singer noted, there are palm trees in Scripps Park that are a century old. Other trees are dead or dying and need to be replaced or more properly maintained. “We need a plan to say, ‘How do we maintain and preserve and replace, when necessary, the dynamic aspects of the shoreline park?’ ”

At some pointed, added Singer, improvements will need to be made to park features, like paved walkways. “Walkways will need to be moved back,” he said. “The park would seem to be ok, but then on closer investigation, you see there are things that need to be done in terms of maintenance or replenishing landscaping or dealing with certain issues like drainage runoff into the ocean.”

Scripps Park has a long and distinguished history dating back to 1887. Throughout its history, the park, bounded by the ocean and La Jolla’s downtown Village, has always been a centerpiece of the community.

The Scripps Park Plan, a blueprint for future park maintenance and development, has four fundamental objectives:

  • Recognize that the site is an integral part of a larger coastal setting, experiencing unique natural processes while providing abundant leisure and recreational opportunities.
  • Careful preservation, restoration and enhancement of the park are required.
  • Local park use and development must be given thoughtful guidance.
  • To help fund the park’s upkeep, park resources must be dedicated to its proper preservation, restoration and enhancement.

In the recently released Scripps Park Action Plan, a new vision for the park is spelled out via a number of policy statements. The first such statement maintains that the park’s natural systems - bluff tops, cliffs, beaches and ocean waters - need to be preserved, restored and enhanced. Another policy points out that any future park design needs to ensure compatibility with the park’s natural environment and historical landscape. Another goal is to ensure future development in the park complements and completes its natural beauty restoring ocean views and assuring public access.
There is also discussion in the new Scripps Park Action Plan of establishing a broadly representative board to oversee park use while monitoring the evolution and implementation of the master plan’s recommendations.

There are a great many short-, medium- and long-range goals for Scripps Park set out in the final draft of its new master plan. They include preparing a Maintenance Management Program to oversee landscaping, adjusting water irrigation schedules and repairing any defects in the sytem, replacing exotic plant species such as ice plant with native species, contracting an arborist/horticulturalist to watch over landscaping and controling the rodent population in the park while reducing erosion and other damage.

Angeles Leira, a retired city park planner, has been working with the Scripps Park Project. She said Scripps and all other city parks need to devise strategies to safeguard park amenities in order to preserve and enhance them for the future. “This one (Scripps) is special, very unique,” Leira said, “in that it has the whole ocean environment, while being in the middle of a highly-used, urban area. It needs loving care. If the recommendations in the park master plan are followed, the look of the park will not change greatly, but the ongoing maintenance will be much easier, putting together a schedule of things that have to be done and when they have to be done. It’s a more systematic approach to park maintenance and ongoing development, emphasizing what the comunity wants. This plan will spur a lot more community involvement in the oversight of the park.”

For more information about the Scripps Park Master Plan visit