La Jolla community planners revert to original vote on Cliffridge Park cell tower

By Pat Sherman

The La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) has righted what many in the community felt was a wrong course of action on AT&T’s proposed cell tower in Cliffridge Park.

During the LJCPA’s June 5 meeting, more than 40 people (mostly parents of Torrey Pines Elementary School students) raised their hands to express opposition to an AT&T cell tower going in near the school, which would be the third at Cliffridge.

In April, LJCPA trustees initially voted 7-6-1 to reject the cell tower, with the meeting’s acting president, Patrick Ahern, abstaining from the vote. However, during an ensuing debate about Robert’s Rules of Order, trustees and attendees discussed whether the parliamentary guidelines require a board president to vote when it would result in a tie (in this case, resulting in the loss of ma- jority support, and a failed motion). Follow- ing that discussion, and the introduction of a clarified motion, the group voted again. By that time, trustee Bob Collins, who voted against the project, had left the meeting, creating a tie that was broken when Ahern voted in favor of the project.

LJCPA’s new board president, Joe LaCava, although absent from the group’s April meeting, said he listened to a recording of the meeting and found problems with the way the votes were conducted.

LJCPA trustee Fran Zimmerman, who made the original motion to deny the cell tower, said “all subsequent maneuvers on this subject” during the April meeting were “improper and beyond the pale of expectations for fairness” to which the LJCPA is bound.

Parents concerned about the health effects of Electromagnetic Field (EMF) levels from cell towers — which the Federal Communications Commission prevents local governments from arguing against — also weren’t happy with the vote. Many said they hadn’t been adequately notified about the LJCPA’s April meeting or the project itself.

“We believe anything other than your original vote against AT&T’s proposed tower next to our school is both unreasonable and potentially illegal,” parent Catherine Carron said. “You held a vote and the vote was clear, legitimate and proper ... against AT&T.”

Asked whether attendees wanted a new public hearing on the project during the LJCPA’s July 3 meeting, several attendees said the date would be inconvenient, given its proximity to the July 4 holiday weekend. (LaCava said the AT&T representative wasn’t available to attend the June meeting.)

Although several trustees preferred the full hearing in July, in the end the board voted 11-4-2 to revise the minutes from its April meeting to uphold trustees’ original vote to deny the project.

The La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (whose members are appointed by the mayor, and which is the only other group in La Jolla with a voice on this project officially recognized by the city) will discuss the matter during its next public meeting, 9 a.m. June 17 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

In other LJCPA news

Shared burden:

When it comes to the city’s new bike-sharing program — to be implemented this summer — it’s clear La Jollans aren’t merely going along for the ride.During a presentation on the program, a partnership between the City of San Diego and the DecoBike company, LJCPA trustees and attendees expressed further discontent with aspects of the program, which involves installation of 14 solar-powered bicycle kiosks in La Jolla, and 180 citywide.

Objections raised included the kiosks’ size and height, the loss of parking or sidewalk space to accommodate kiosks and that they will include advertising.

“So they are in essence billboards,” said LJCPA member-at-large Cindy Greatrex. “I don’t think that’s something the community is aware of.”

La Jolla Shores Association board Chair Tim Lucas said the program lacked strong, initial community review.

“What we’re being asked is to say


we want these stations, rather than


we want these stations,” Lucas said.

Earlier this year the city e-mailed a notice with photographs showing where each kiosk would be to about 6,800 La Jolla residents and business owners in the vicinity of the proposed sites, soliciting feedback on each one.

“The last thing we want to do is take away parking,” said Linda Marabian, deputy director of the city’s Transportation Engineering Operations division, noting that the city is looking for more red curb areas to locate kiosks that would prevent the loss of public parking.

Angela Landsberg, a consultant with DecoBike, said a committee of business owners and residents in downtown San Diego visited each of 75 proposed kiosk locations there, then compiled their feedback in a spreadsheet, indicating which stations it approved of, and suggesting

alternate sites for those it didn’t like. “Eighty percent of those suggested for relocation were relocated,” Landsberg said, urging La Jollans to undertake a similar effort.

“We don’t mind going out and looking at it ... but it takes a lot of time, effort and volunteer (hours) the community doesn’t have,” Don Schmidt said, noting that the kiosk proposed for the sidewalk in front of La Jolla Rec Center violates the community’s Planned District Ordinance. “It feels like we didn’t ask for this,” he said.

Mike Costello asked whether the kiosks could be “restricted to private properties” and “left out of the public right of way,” while trustee Cynthia Bond suggested they be located in garages, and out of public view.

“If you know a place where you would encourage a private property owner to take this on, we would like to know,” Landsberg said, adding that the city is “completely indemnified” from any liability for the program, yet stands to gain $2 million in revenue from bike-sharing for its general fund.

Landsberg assured attendees that the num- ber of kiosks in La Jolla is not set in stone, and that the stations can be easily relocated.

In response to concerns that bike-sharing would cut into the business of shops that already rent bicycles, such as those in La Jolla Shores, Landsberg referenced a study showing that bicydle shops in the Florida cities were DecoBike already operates saw a 34 percent


in bike sales.

Ahern said he felt La Jolla’s participation in the program — willing or unwilling — was a

fait accompli


“It’s going to happen, so we’re going to have to find better places (for the kiosks),” he said.

The deadline to comment on the bike- sharing program is July 1. Photographs and locations of bike kiosks proposed for La Jolla can be found at BikeShareLaJolla.pdf — To comment on bike-sharing, e-mail Thomas Landre at or call (619) 533-3045. More info at

Bluff specs too rough:

Community planners also said a presentation on the planned restoration of the bluff at the foot of Midway Drive in Bird Rock did not con- tain enough information, and that the city should return with large-scale plans clearly illustrating the project and its elements.

Storms in 2005 and 2006 washed out the wall on the bluff, eroding it and creating a need to restore the wall, benches and bluff pathway. An Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ramp would also be added.

Design of the project — about 35 percent complete — should be finished by the end of the year, project manager George Freilha said. Pending approval of site development and coastal development permits for the project (with an estimated cost of $180,000 to $200,000), construction should be complete by the end of 2015 — provided the project is granted a waiver for crews to work through the summer construction moratorium.

The LJCPA voted to take no action on the project until it has been presented to the Bird Rock Community Council, and the LJCPA is presented with more detailed project plans.

— Questions should be addressed to Freilha at

Going solar:

City representatives also presented plans to install solar panels on top of the Bay View Reservoir deck, located at 9175 Parkview Terrace, just north of Kate Sessions Park on the southeast side of Mount Soledad.

The panels are part of the city’s Climate Action Plan, which seeks to produce 50 percent of its energy via renewable sources by 2020 (it is currently at about 30 percent). The panels would be located 10 inches off the roof deck, and only visible to homes along Parkview Terrace to the south, said public utilities proj- ect assistant Dirk Smith. The project costs $1.5 million to $2 million.

Assistant city engineer Mohammad Rahman said his previous boss on the project (since retired) planned to have employees go door-to-door in the immediate vicinity of the reservoir to present the plans.

“I think you’ve got the message to let the neighbors know about this,” LaCava said. “Although we appreciate the city going green ... the no-surprise rule is always a good one.”

Candidates announce:

During the meeting, two candidates —

Cindy Greatrex


Mike Costello

— said they were running for two vacant seats on the LJCPA board to be filled during a special election at the group’s July 3 meeting. A third candidate, Michael Morton, provided a statement, but did not attend.

Greatrex, immediate past president of the La Jolla Town Council and the La Jolla Community Center’s board secretary, said she first gained experience in land use issues in 1992, when appointed Commissioner of Deeds for the state of new York (where she then resided) and during two terms as chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals for South Haven, new York (which she likened to the LJCPA in function).

Costello, a previous LJCPA trustee, served 2008-2013, during which he was on ad hoc committees dealing with the once proposed dredging of the Children’s Pool and the merits of the proposed Hillel Jewish Student Center near uC San Diego. Currently, he serves on the LJCPA’s ad hoc committee on vacation rentals.

The election will be held July 3 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. Polls are open 3-7 p.m.

Election challenge:

LaCava said a challenge to the LJCPA’s March 6 annual election — dismissed by the LJCPA in April — has been submitted to the mayor’s office for independent review. The LJCPA will respond once it learns the outcome of the mayoral investigation, he said.

Cove restroom architect selected:

LJCPA second vice-president Ahern announced Safdie Rabines Architects was selected last week to design replacement comfort stations for the “old beat-up restrooms” at La Jolla Cove. nine architects submitted proposals for the job. The public will have a chance to offer input on the design during a future LJCPA meeting, Ahern said.

Fireworks update:

Justin Garver, a representative with the office of District 1 City Councilmember Sherri Lightner, said the city is working with the La Jolla Fireworks Foundation to assure this year’s imperiled fireworks is not cancelled due to a lack of permits or financing. Garver said the city would know whether the event must be cancelled within the coming weeks. Messages left with the event organizer, Deborah Marengo, were not returned by press time.