Group plans for gliderport, park future


A group that includes two La Jollans is crafting a long-term development plan for Torrey Pines City Park, which includes La Jolla’s historic Torrey Pines Gliderport.

The park at 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive is adjacent to the Salk Institute and has walking paths leading down to the ocean - a dynamic, scenic, coastal bluff environment providing public access. The park has been the site of many Kumeyaay Indian finds and harbors sensitive biological, geological, historical, cultural and paleontological resources.

Stakeholder groups represented on the advisory board appointed by the mayor include representatives of nonmotorized aviation groups that use the gliderport as well as environmentalists, UCSD and planners from surrounding communities including University City, La Jolla and Del Mar.

Michelle Abella-Shon is the city’s liaison with the Torrey Pines City Park Advisory Board. She said the impetus for the board’s formation stems from a court settlement in a 2007 lawsuit brought by the Coastal Law Enforcement Action Network (CLEAN) alleging that cliff irrigation was eroding coastal bluffs.

Exploring possibilities

Terms of the settlement included a condition that a general development plan be done for the park site “to explore anything possible on the site” in terms of future development.

“I don’t envision the current uses are going to change on this world-renowned site,” Abella-Shon said. “It’s unique in its flight activities, which have been going on for decades. Our concern is that we want to hear from the nonflying community as well.”

Abella-Shon added the plan was scheduled to be completed in three years, making it due in summer 2010, though that timeline can be extended as long as the city is working in “good faith” toward developing the plan.

Ken King represents the City Council’s First District City Council and Mary Coakley, represents La Jolla Parks & Recreation Inc. on the board.

King talked about what he’d like to see the plan accomplish.

‘A blank slate’

“It’s supposed to be a blank slate for how this city park should be used,” he said. “My feeling is the plan should protect non-motorized aviation, which has made this site historic. But it should also consider the possibility of special events at the park, as well as pursuing funding opportunities.”

The landscaping firm of Wallace Roberts, & Todd, Inc. has been engaged by the city as consultants to assist the advisory board in formulating the plan.

“This is an update,” said Laura Burnett, spokeswoman for the firm. “It’s going to be a graphic plan of all the components that go into this park. Exactly what those components are, that’s the big question.”

Burnett said her consulting firm and the park advisory board are both still in the “listening and gathering information” stage of the GDP.

For more information, call Michelle Abella-Shon at (619) 525-8234 or e-mail



  • Torrey Pines City Park Advisory Board
  • 7 p.m. Thursday
  • Forum Hall at Westfield UTC mall, 4545 La Jolla Village Drive, on the second floor of Wells Fargo Bank

Paragliders soar over the bluffs along the Torrey Pines Gliderport.