City clears problem foliage off La Jolla pedestrian bridge

By Ashley Mackin

At the April 9 La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) meeting, city representatives offered updates on various projects around town, including a cleanup of the Torrey Pines Road pedestrian bridge, progress on the Shores lifeguard tower and a planned expansion of the City Attorney’s “Beach Area Community Court.”

Justin Garver, a recently-appointed community liaison for the office of District 1 City Council representative Sherri Lightner, said the pedestrian bridge that spans across Torrey Pines Road where it becomes La Jolla Parkway, is undergoing a cleanup and repair to improve safety.

Responding to community concerns about visibility on the bridge — often dark in parts due to overgrown vines and bushes — as well as a homeless population that sometimes sleeps there, Garver said Lightner’s office sent crews to clear the vines where accessible.

At the LJSA meeting in March, prior to the brambles’ removal, San Diego Police Officer Larry Hesselgesser said the vines and plants that cover the domed, enclosed fence create a dark, semi-private area that is inviting to homeless people and removing the foliage would make the area less appealing.

As for areas that are harder to clean up, such as the top of the domed fence, Garver said, “the easiest thing to do is cut the vines and allow them to die so it’s easier to clean them up and get them out of cracks and crevices.”

The lights along the pathway at ground level were also checked and burned out bulbs were replaced.

■ Lifeguard tower fix:

Regarding the new Shores lifeguard tower (at which lifeguards report visibility issues during certain times of day due to the type and angle of the glass in the windows), Lifeguard Lieutenant Rich Stropky said a “mock-up” and conceptual design for how the tower will be re-configured will be shown to lifeguards shortly. The redesign involves replacing windows at alternate angles, with minimal changes to the structure.

At the next LJSA meeting, a presentation will include more specific details, a timeline, and whether the summer construction moratorium will be observed. A new contractor has been brought on for the redesign. “In the (contractor’s) research, one of the most important things found is that there is no real documentation on how an observation tower’s glass should be tilted or to what degree, except (as guidelines provided by) the Federal Aviation Administration, so that’s what we’re applying to this project,” Stropky said. “They will have it on paper that the glass needs to be at a certain degree and of a certain quality. So we’re moving toward that ... for future towers. That is probably what we will adapt.”

To ensure safety during problematic hours, lifeguards have added concurrent coverage at adjacent Tower 32 — particularly during times when the angle of the glass causes “ghost images,” in which people appear to be on one end of the beach when they are actually at another, as well as distorted views.

■ Community Court:

Community and Government Relations Officer Julio DeGuzman, with the San Diego City Attorney’s office, discussed the city attorney’s Neighborhood Prosecution Unit, and within it, a Beach Area Community Court, currently underway in Pacific Beach. He said the City Attorney’s office would like to expand this service program, whereby misdemeanor first-time criminals can avoid court, to La Jolla. “What we do is we prosecute offenders of misdemeanors and low-level infractions,” he said, such as someone who gets into a fight at a bar or people who or urinate in public, and offer them beach cleanup service in exchange for having the charges dismissed.

He explained, “The police give them a citation and offer them community projects as an alternative to going to court. Once they complete their service, we rip up the ticket and they don’t get a criminal record, and the community benefits because the (offenders) have to clean up the parks and beaches.”

With the Pacific Beach Community Court, which sees approximately 50 offenders per month, four hours of beach cleanup is required to expunge the offense.

Fines attached to Community Court are $40, as opposed to the $275-450 regularly assessed for misdemeanor crimes, DeGuzman said. These funds, LJSA member Terry Kraszewski said, could theoretically help pay for a ranger at Kellogg Park — a request the organization has been making for years.

To adopt the program in La Jolla, misdemeanor crimes must be reported so police have documented justification to establish the Community Court. Northern Division can be reached at (858) 552-1700 or via its 24-hour non-emergency hotline at (858) 484-3154.

■ In other LJSA news:

The LJSA voted to support an exemption to the summer construction moratorium between Memorial Day and July 3 for construction on the North Comfort Station. The privately funded restroom renovation is underway, but changes in permit requirements delayed construction. Though originally slated for completion in May, plan organizer Mary Coakley-Munk asked LJSA to support an exemption, so construction can continue uninterrupted. However, local surf camps often use the area next to the comfort station as a drop-off spot for their campers, so member and Surf Diva co-founder Izzy Tihanyi suggested the support come with a request for an appointed alternate, temporary drop-off spot, which the board approved.

The LJSA also held its annual officer’s election at the April meeting, during which Tim Lucas was elected to remain as chair, new board member Susan Thomson Tschirn was elected vice chair, Dolores Donovan was elected to remain as secretary and Ray Higgins was elected treasurer.

■ Next Meeting:

The La Jolla Shores Association next meets 6:30 p.m. May 14 at the Martin Johnson House of Scripps Institute of Oceanography, 8840 Biological Grade. More information at

ljsa.org

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