Group charged with updating 2003 Cultural Landscape survey

By Ashley Mackin

After a presentation by architectural historian Diane Kane to the La Jolla Parks and Beaches committee on Nov. 25, explaining the Cultural Landscape Survey, members were charged with helping to update the decade-old document.

“All it is, is an inventory of what we have here in town that gives us community character, that we feel adds to the significance of La Jolla,” Kane said, adding that the included features must be on public land. “It could be landscaping (like trees), significant views, bridges, cobblestone walls or lampposts — anything in the public right-of-way that is part of the character of our community.”

The Survey, as intended, would contribute to the La Jolla Community Plan under “community character” as a list of sites that need protecting. The current survey, a volume of more than 300 pages, was collected in 2003, but was literally shelved because it could not be approved in time to be incorporated into the Community Plan the last time it was revised.

Now, Kane is working on updating the Survey, removing the items which are no longer around and adding new spots, so that it is accurate and complete. Survey-keepers also need to digitize the collection (it is now a binder full of pages hard to use and reference) and convert it to a searchable database.

In passing the 2003 volume around the room, several members of the Parks and Beaches board found inaccuracies. Member Melinda Merryweather noted three beach-access points that were recorded incorrectly. Kane charged the board with taking sections of the 2003 survey and verifying that the items listed on those pages are still there, or noting if they are not.

Once the Survey is updated and approved by Parks and Beaches members, it can be passed along to the Community Planning Association for approval. The association would then pass it along to senior city planner Lesley Henegar, with the request that she suggest the plan be adopted. Once adopted, it becomes the guidelines the city must consider when reviewing land development projects.

Those who wish to volunteer for the Survey update can e-mail for more information.

Protecting the trees

Those who assist in updating the Survey will have help from the Public Tree Protection Ordinance, adopted in 2005, which found historic trees in the public right-of-way to document and label as needing protection. Because the Public Tree Protection Ordinance has a similar purpose to the Cultural Landscape Survey, findings from that study will be included in the Survey.

The Public Tree database includes the following categories: landmark trees (unusual or of very high esthetic quality), heritage trees (over 50 years old with some connection to a historical event or planted by a historically relevant person), parkway trees (located along city streets), preservation groves, park land trees grouped together, and dedicated open space containing multiple habitat planned areas or environmentally sensitive lands.

Wanting to assist in the verification of the tree database, member Mary Ellen Morgan commented that San Diego Gas and Electric recently “hacked at” a historic tree in front of her house, and that a plan to hold utility companies accountable is needed.

She also read from the tree ordinance, the penalty for removing a tree labeled for protection. “300-percent of the assessed value will be levied for anyone found responsible for intentionally removing trees without permit or causing fatal damage to a tree found on the public street and right-of-way,” Morgan reported.

In other P&B news

■ Closing Children’s Pool:

The board voted to approve sending a letter to the city requesting more information on what it means to have an Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area (ESHA) year round at Children’s Pool. Per a proposal the city is considering, the beach at Children’s Pool would be closed during the five-month harbor seal pupping season, and the area would be declared an ESHA year-round.

The board is seeking clarification on what an ESHA means during the non-pupping season months, and wants to know whether there would be additional opportunities for public comment. The City Planning Commission will meet to discuss the beach closure on Dec. 12. Allen said he would distribute whatever feedback they get, including the results of the vote, at the next meeting.

■ Food truck rules: Parks and Beaches was asked to weigh-in on new city-proposed regulations for food trucks. Chair Dan Allen said that after reviewing the proposed regulations, he noticed there is a “beach impact area” on the city map. Food trucks are not permitted within the beach impact area, but the committee was not sure where that area is, so they tabled the discussion.

■ Lifeguard tower on hold: It was also announced the Children’s Pool lifeguard tower construction will be suspended starting Dec. 15, in accordance with seal pupping season rules.

— La Jolla Parks and Beaches will not meet in December. The next meeting will be 4 p.m. Jan. 27 at the La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.