Effort to spruce up Coast Blvd. gets moving

Phyllis Minick

By Dave Schwab

Phyllis Minick had an epiphany one Sunday this summer strolling along Coast Boulevard by La Jolla’s Children’s Pool: It was up to her to lead the charge to fix the disheveled walkway.

On Saturday, she wants your help at a workshop on beautifying the area that will be held from begin at 8 a.m. with a walk around the area near the lifeguard station and the walkway to the gazebo.

“There were so many people walking with strollers and small children running around that many were forced to walk in the street with cars leaving and trying to park and they couldn’t see people moving out from the cars,” she said in a recent interview. “And I’m looking at all the tables and signs and how distracted people are and how noisy it is and I thought, ‘This is really pathetic.’

Now, three months after her full-court press lobbying and visiting every community group and subgroup in town, she’s organized a gathering that will start with a self-guided tour of the area between the lifeguard station and the gazebo from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. After the tour, participants will gather in the Friendship Room at 939 Coast Blvd. to brainstorm ideas on making the walkway more aesthetic and user-friendly.

Landscape architect Jim Neri, who worked with the city and La Jolla community planners on master planning for the first phase of Coast Boulevard improvements back in 1989, will lead the session.

He said refurbishing the boulevard is part of a “grand vision” for redeveloping La Jolla’s coastline by adding posts, chains, railings, stairs, turnouts and pathways as well as other improvements.

“This piece around the lifeguard station, Children’s Pool and Casa Cove area, is just another phase of implementing that preliminary plan,” he said.

Since Children’s Pool Lifeguard Tower is being replaced, beautification proponents argue now is the appropriate time to make aesthetic changes on the adjacent walkway so they tie in with what’s already along Coast Boulevard. Those improvements include decorative, 5-foot-high columns inlaid with seashells, colorful stones and sparkles lining the sidewalks between the lifeguard station and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The column design is carried over into sidewalks and benches.

Patrick Ahern, president of La Jolla Parks and Beaches Inc., the parent group for the Children’s Pool Committee chaired by Minick, noted the public workshop process has been a proven success.

“People are provided with a questionnaire and told to put down what they see, like and dislike,” he said. “Then they go back and put ideas on a large sheet of paper with colored markers.”

Ahern said it’s surprising how quickly individuals conferring together leads to collaboration in a group.

“Everyone starts out with their own point of view, people begin to compare ideas, then, suddenly during the workshop, a collective idea of the best design just emerges,” he said.

Longtime community planner Joe LaCava will talk about efforts to speed up demolishing the abandoned Children’s Pool Lifeguard Station and replacing it with a new structure.

“The city is ready to advertise a design/build contract for the project but first needs to better understand the construction schedule,” LaCava said in an e-mail. “The demolition and the new construction is hampered by restrictions during the seal pupping season as well as the summer moratorium.”

He added that city officials are talking with state and federal agencies on addressing the seal situation and wants to know if La Jollans wouldd consider waiving the Summer Moratorium.

Coast Boulevard in front of Children’s Pool is not only unsightly now — it’s dangerous — Minick contended, pointing out there is as little as 36 inches of open sidewalk space where the free-speech tables on the walkway extend into the public right-of-way.

In endeavoring to rehabilitate Coast Boulevard, Minick said her motive is pure, her method is professional and her aim is practical, not political.

“There really is no hidden agenda,” she said. “The goal is to make it better. At the very least, make it look better. At the very most, make it safer and cleaner.”

Here’s some background on the Children’s Pool lifeguard tower project.

The city is proposing to demolish the abandoned Children’s Pool Lifeguard Station and replace it with a new lifeguard station. The preliminary design has been reviewed and approved by both the La Jolla Parks and Beaches Committee and the La Jolla Community Planning Association.

The City is ready to advertise a design/build contract for the project but first needs to better understand the construction schedule. The schedule is affected by restrictions during the seal pupping season as well as La Jolla’s summer construction moratorium.

  • What is the Summer Moratorium?
It prohibits public works construction between Memorial Day and Labor Day in the coastal areas. San Diego and the beach communities rely on the tourist season so we want to make our coastal areas as attractive and inviting as possible.

  • Has La Jolla waived the moratorium before?
Yes, the community has previously supported waiving the summer moratorium. Most recently, Village merchants waived the moratorium for July 2010 so that the city could complete the sewer and water replacement project. In 2007, Bird Rock merchants waived the moratorium for the entire summer to allow the timely completion of the sewer replacement and roundabout construction.

  • Would the construction be scheduled for Summer 2012, Summer 2013, or both?
At this time the question is whether to waive the moratorium for both summers. However, if the city can find a workable solution with the state and federal agencies regarding work during the seal pupping season, then only work would during the summer of 2012 would be necessary.

  • How much time would be saved by waiving the moratorium?
One year.

  • Will access to the Children’s Pool be affected?
The temporary construction fencing would be around the existing plaza, allowing access to Children’s Pool will be available during construction without interruption. Access to South Casa Beach may be affected during portions of the construction.

  • How will the lifeguards operate during the construction?
The existing temporary station would be removed and temporary accommodations would be made to ensure that the lifeguards are fully able to do their job.

  • Would any of the existing on-street parking be lost during construction?
Only the area where lifeguard staff currently park.

  • Who does the city want to hear from on this question?
The city wants to hear from all stakeholders including the merchants (through the La Jolla Village Merchants Association), the residents — especially those living along Coast Boulevard, users of the coastline (through the La Jolla Parks & Beaches Committee), and from the community at large (through the La Jolla Community Planning Association and the La Jolla Town Council).

— Source: Joe LaCava, former chair La Jolla Community Planning Association and former president Bird Rock Community Council