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Bird Rock Elementary School alley still a puzzle

What started out four years ago as an attempt to get a gate cut in Bird Rock Elementary School’s fence to allow easier access for the disabled to the park, has morphed into a land-use dilemma.

The problem: how to make the unpaved, dead-end alley of Waverly Avenue between Colima Avenue and the school accessible and pedestrian-friendly without disturbing existing development on two private properties on either side that have encroached on public right of way.

Last week, La Jolla Traffic and Transportation Board members turned down one proposed remedy that would have turned Waverly Avenue along that stretch into a private road with a 6-foot-easment for a walkway.

Matt Grosz, a Bird Rock resident who grew up in one of the homes directly affected by the Waverly alley, supported the closure.

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After the meeting, despite losing his argument, he said he remained hopeful that a compromise solution is at hand.

“Ultimately what the compromise is going to end up being,” he said, “is to build a 4-foot sidewalk that is privately funded in the public right-of-way right.”

That would cost about $32,500, he said.

“If it were funded correctly we could actually build a pedestrian walkway with nice signage, benches and drinking fountains,” he said. “It could be something we could be proud of in the community, instead of just building a four-foot concrete sidewalk.”

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To do that, Grosz said residents need to an “encroachment” agreement with the city that make the residents responsible for maintaining the walkway and takes the liability off the city’s hands.

Joe La Cava, the board’s vice chairman agreed with Grosz that making the alleyway a private rather than a public responsibility might be the answer to the problem, although he had previously said street vacations are generally frowned on by the group because they tend to favor private individuals at the public’s expense.

He said before they could happen, it would have to be determined that the move provides a public benefit, does not adversely affect public land, isn’t detrimental to local community plans, does not interfere with a public use.

“We can’t make any of those findings with this project,” he said.

What’s next

The Waverly Avenue matter will be discussed at the following meetings:
  • La Jolla Coastal Development Permit Committee Meeting not yet set, likely in March
  • La Jolla Community Planning Association Meeting not yet set, as early as April 2