By Ashley MackinWhen the La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Inc. advisory group (LJP&B) submitted its list to the city with suggestions for projects to be included on the 2015 Capital Improvements Projects list, it included a curious item called the Charlotte Park Development Plan.
Currently a canyon behind a private residence, Charlotte Park was once a park at the end of Charlotte Street, a “paper street” (a road or street that appears on some maps but does not actually exist). It is perpendicular to Torrey Pines Road, leading to the bluff edge between Princess Street and Coast Walk, across from Amalfi Street.
LJP&B member Melinda Merryweather explained that since a fence was installed blocking off Charlotte Street, the park space has eroded over the years, becoming a canyon overgrown with vegetation. The 2003 Community Plan confirms, “Neither Charlotte Park nor Charlotte Street are accessible at the present time. Opportunities to link Charlotte Street with Coast Walk have been lost due to bluff erosion.”
While there is no formal development plan, merryweather said she would like the Charlotte Park Development Plan to involve redeveloping the area, filling in the canyon, making it safe for public access and designating it as open space.
Charlotte Park appears on the Unfunded Park Improvements List of 2013 — a collection of improvements for properties maintained and operated by the San diego Park and recreation department — and has been carried over from previous year’s lists.
The LJP&B is hoping some fund- ing will be available for this project in 2015, and submitted its wish list to the La Jolla community Planning Association (CPA). From there, the cPA integrated the LJP&b suggestions into its recommendations (including developing charlotte Park), and submitted them to the city. Having scratched the children’s Pool Walk project off her list (now that it’s been funded), Merryweather said the charlotte Park project “has always been one of my babies.” One of the homes adjacent to the space is vacant, so Merryweather wants to get the project moving before the next tenants move in.
“Now that the house is going to have a new owner, things can change. I want to make sure we announce there is a street (and park) there and that we are going to do something with it,” she said.
Hoping to avoid public access issues after the fact, merryweather wants to establish the charlotte Park accessway as open space on the record before a homeowner is found, so when the home is purchased, there’s no question that the park space is there.
A wire mesh fence backed by tarp currently blocks views to the ocean from Torrey Pines Road. Merryweather said she would like to see the vegetation and the tarp cleared so there is an ocean view from Torrey Pines Road. From there, her best-case scenario would be to fill the canyon in with dirt, install a walkway and set up picnic tables, creating another ocean-view park space.
“Any time we can create more areas where people can see and get to the ocean, it is our duty to do so,” she said.