La Jolla homeowner evaluating decision on beach access

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

If he agrees with the decision, La Jolla homeowner Ure Kretowicz will get to keep the unpermitted improvements on his property but will have to give up rights to an easement that could permit public access to the beach below his home.

The California Coastal Commission issued a decision last week on the controversy over the property at 7957 Princess St., where a locked gate now blocks access to all but lifeguards and other emergency personnel. The decision also rejects Kretowicz’s offer to pay $3.3 million to fund access improvements elsewhere in La Jolla.

The commission’s decision was made at a meeting in the San Francisco Bay area on July 14.

Kretowicz asked commissioners for 20 days time to consider the terms of their settlement agreement proposal.

In an interview Monday, he warned that allowing access there “will be a disaster for the neighborhood because there will be traffic problems on a substandard street and cul-de-sac with no parking.”

Lee McEachern of the commission’s San Diego office said the tentative settlement agreement was approved with the requirement that the public easement through his property “be recorded immediately.”

McEachern said nothing would change with the easement “unless some entity — a nonprofit — accepts it.”

Longtime La Jollan Melinda Merryweather, who has been lobbying for restoration of the path to the beach, said she was “thrilled coastal commissioners did their job.”

“The next thing we have to do is get somebody, like the La Jolla Conservancy or the California Coastal Conservancy, to accept it (easement),” she said.

Kretowicz said Monday that users of that pathway, which will need a great deal of restoration work before it can be reopened, will be kayakers and others with trucks not individuals with beach chairs.

“I genuinely feel the Coastal Commission is going to have a very difficult time proving that they have the right to an easement there,” Kretowicz said, noting he is consulting with his attorneys. “We may come to a decision sooner rather than later.”

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