Improvements to coastal park planned

The final component of a plan started in 1989 to improve the La Jolla coastline is now up for community approval. The remaining park area targeted for renovation runs south from the People’s Wall to the pump house, including Cuvier Park and Whale View Point.

Jim Neri, the landscape architect heading up the project and a 42-year resident of La Jolla, recently led residents on a walking tour to highlight the proposed improvements.

“It has sprung from the community and is the final phase of the improvements that were envisioned by the community as a whole and have been implemented so far,” Neri said.

The Preliminary Plan for the La Jolla Coastline was initiated in 1989 by the La Jolla Town Council and San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation and is being funded through the La Jolla Conservancy.

Since that time, improvements have been made to coastal areas along Goldfish Point, La Jolla Cove and Ellen Browning Scripps Park.

The final proposed improvements address access, landscaping and safety issues.

“The park has been loved to death,” Neri said. “There’s also a lot more people than there were 10 years ago.”

In many places, the sidewalk has started to crumble or is nonexistent. The number of pedestrians has also increased, congesting the sidewalks.

Widening the sidewalk and installing turnouts can ease the flow of foot traffic. There are also several walkways that could be made safer by installing stairs.

Neri proposes using stabilized decomposed granite for the pathways, widening the walkways at some points to 8 feet. Cobblestones embedded along dirt paths would help pedestrians stay on the trails.

“They don’t know where the edge is, so they make their own,” Neri said.

Neri’s proposal calls for installing interpretive inlays in the large cement area over the pump house at the southernmost end of the park. Other educational features would identify existing fault lines and describe coastal wildlife that visitors might see along the shore.

Other improvements call for moving trash cans and signs to the inside edge of the walkway, replacing foreign vegetation with native plants, improving access to the Wedding Bowl and replacing the cement cap along the People’s Wall.

“For the most part, it’s really just cleaning it up,” Neri said.

The physical features have all been designed with an eye on the past, such as the cobble walls that can be seen on the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the post- and cable-chain fencing that is already in place along other park areas.

“All of this is picking up on the fabric of old La Jolla,” Neri said.

Neri said the community needs to approve the concept before additional details, including cost, can be determined.

Area resident and philanthropist Nick Wallner is underwriting the design and has pledged $100,000. However, Wallner’s pledge is dependent upon other community members committing to fund the improvement plan.

“It’s a challenge to other well-wishers in the community who love the coastline to come forth and take care of it,” Neri said.