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Issues with Scripps Park Master Plan continue

La Jolla Town Council balked at approving the Scripps Park Master Plan because proponents are renewing their call for creating a broad-based, independent committee to oversee implementation of it.

“We’re deeply committed to the fact the plan needs a board,” said Neil Murray, who, along with Patrick Ahern, gave a presentation to the Town Council Sept. 13 justifying the plan and its implementation. “We don’t want this (plan) to sit on a shelf and collect dust. If there’s no specific group spearheading that effort, a group dedicated specifically and exclusively to the park, it won’t happen.”

Town Councilmembers, however, challenged the necessity - and wisdom - of creating another board, preferring to bring any group overseeing the development of the park under the umbrella of the Town Council.

“How would this board be selected and by whom?,” asked Town Councilman Bob Collins. “Do you have a budget, and how is it phased?”

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Town Councilman John Beaver referenced a letter written by council colleague Carl Lind to group president Anne Cleveland, which details the argument against creating a new community committee to oversee Scripps Park and its operations. “The letter stated the design board, a group of volunteers who have worked on the park, should become members of La Jolla Town Council’s Parks & Beaches Committee and work with Parks & Beaches,” said Beaver. “Carl asked, ‘Why have another organization created, when the structure already exists to deal with all the issues of developing a (park) plan?’ ”

“The counter-argument to that is it took us 20 years to get here,” replied Murray, adding development of a master plan to guide development in Scripps Park was originally called for in 1989 with the adoption of the California Coastal Plan. “Parks & Beaches had 20 years to create a plan, and did not.”

Scripps Park master plan’s new vision stresses the need to “marry” the water and land elements of the park, considering them as parts of an inseparable whole. The plan’s guiding principles call for preserving, protecting and re-establishing the invaluable natural landscapes and native ecologies of the park and its coastline including the bluffs, caves, beaches and adjacent La Jolla Ecological Reserve.

Master plan recommendations include: Reconfiguring and renovating Scripps Park’s storm water drainage system; reconfiguring the park’s grading and drainage patterns and irrigation system to minimize storm and irrigation water discharge onto bluffs and into the ocean; controlling the rodent population which burrows into bluffs hastening their erosion; engaging a certified arborist to oversee landscape maintenance; replacing non-native plant species like ice plant with native species that do not cause nearly as much erosion; and establishing a local citizen’s design review board to evaluate all proposed park projects large or small, event scheduling and maintenance procedures for the park.

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Patrick Ahern, a longtime La Jolla Towncouncilmember, who’s been spearheading the Scripps Park Master Plan effort, noted Scripps Park is a beautiful place with a lot of history which is showing signs of wear and tear.

“It’s an old park, built in 1905,” noted Ahern. “There’s some undermining of (bluff) walls. There’s some issues with the way water collects within the park itself.

“There are vector animals on the cliffs. There are unstable cliffs south of Boomer Beach. Much of the park needs to be made ADA-accessible. It’s one of the last places in the city of San Diego that has an outfall directly into the street, with stuff coming right off the street, including dog feces and pesticides, going into the ocean.”

Ahern pointed out there are seven different types of fences along the coastline in the park, much of it in disrepair. He added several trees in the park, stone pines and palm trees, some planted 100 years ago, are dead or dying and need to be replaced.

“This is an action plan,” concluded Ahern about the Scripps Park Master. “It’s a long-term plan. This park has the potential to be a world monument. It’s over 100 years old and it’s been pushed by urbanization, but it still retains its beauty.”

After lengthy debate, the Town Council passed a motion for master plan proponents to meet with the Town Council’s Parks & Beaches Committee at its next meeting, Monday, Sept. 24 at 4 p.m. at La Jolla Rec Center, to hash out the composition of the board it’s proposing to oversee Scripps Park before returning to La Jolla Town Council at its next meeting on Thursday, Oct. 11 for a final vote.