La Jolla Parks & Beaches group changes strategy on Children’s Pool cleanup


In its continued effort to explore ways to clean Children’s Pool beach of any bacterial remnants from the harbor seals that haul out and give birth there from December to May, La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJP&B) advisory group announced it is changing strategies. At its monthly meeting June 22 at La Jolla Rec Center, the board revealed its new recommendations and discussed the parking situation in different beach areas.

Sluicegates revisited: Originally favoring the idea of opening all four sluicegates found in the Children’s Pool seawall, which would wash the man-made beach with water all the way to the stairs, a LJP&B subcommittee now suggests the city open just one sluicegate, and evaluate its efficacy from there.

Subcommittee member Jeff Chasan said the group recommends the city open the sluicegate closest to the water to allow the sea to flush the northernmost part of the beach.

Because of the density of harbor seals that rest near the waterline, Chasan said that’s likely where the most polluted sand is. “If you look at the way the beach is positioned, if you open that one sluicegate, you’d be letting nature move all that sand out,” he said, noting that, over time, a new waterline would be established that would shorten the amount of sand found from the stairs to the water.

Chasan argued that taking this cautionary approach would have minimal impact on the integrity of the seawall, would clean the beach at no maintenance cost to the city, and still give the seals a sandbar to haul out during pupping season.

LJP&B member Phyllis Minick added that the sluicegates were designed to open and close, so should this approach prove ineffective or adverse, the gates could be closed right away.

Sluicegates were built into the wall 84 years ago when it was constructed in 1931. The gates could open so ocean water could flush the beach, or close when needed. During the final phase of construction, it was observed that pull caused by the sluiceways all being open made it difficult for the pool to establish a sandbar. To remedy the problem, the gates were closed and have since been sealed with concrete.

No studies have been conducted as to the possible result of opening one sluicegate,Chasan said. Efforts to clean Children’s Pool intensified

after an August 2014 California Coastal Commission ruling that decided the beach would be closed to the public completely during the pupping season (Dec. 15 to May 15) and the city would monitor the closure’s efficacy for five years, at which point the closure permit must be renewed.

A condition that the city must evaluate the cleanliness of the water and sand (and the feasibility of cleaning the water and sand) within that five years was also part of the approval.

Concerned that the city will wait until the last minute to conduct the cleanliness study, LJP&B began investigating possible options to recommend to the city. LJP&B Chair Dan Allen said, “Previously, we wrote to the city suggesting that they study opening the sluiceways, and now we suggesting the long- term answer is opening the sluiceways.”

In other La Jolla Parks & Beaches news

Coast Walk residents fight parking proposal: LJP&B member Melinda Merryweather’s efforts to add public parking spaces to Coast Walk may have been curtailed following the June meeting. Merryweather proposed asking the city to conduct a bluff stability study and investigate the possibility of moving the guardrail 10 feet to install a turnaround area for emergency vehicles, in preparation for adding parking spaces. However, a motion to send the request to the city failed 5-6-4 following a presentation by Land Use Consultant Michael Pallamary and a Coast Walk resident.

Of the issues Pallamary said should be considered is a cost-benefit analysis. “What is it going to cost to study the bluff stability, just to introduce two or three parking spaces?” he posed. “I think money could be better spent, or spent on getting more parking to an area that will have a lot more attention.” He further raised the issue of cliff stability and the concern of live-loading.

Resident Henry Haimsohn added, “Pedestrians are always walking there ... encouraging more traffic in this very sensitive area is a mistake, we should be promoting the ‘walk’ in Coast Walk and the Coast Walk Trail (that connects Coast Walk with Cave Street). We should protect it, not invite more traffic. It’s a nuisance for the residents who live there.”

Although the motion to support the proposed parking ultimately failed, Chair Allen later informed La Jolla Light via e-mail, “A motion to reconsider may be made by anyone on the prevailing side of the vote. In this case any one of those six voting against may make such a motion to reconsider, and one of those members has told me (they) intend to do so.”

Whale View project seeks to remove parking: The piecemeal Whale View Point Project — composed of tasks to improve the beachside area along Coast Boulevard between the Cobblestone climbing wall and its 200 block — is getting a headstart on one of its final components — removing parallel parking from the west side of Coast Boulevard, a one-way street.

“Right now there is parking in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art and Casa de Mañana and it stays parallel parking until the first house of the residential area, and then there is no parking on the west side,” project chair Ann Dynes said. “A request has already been put forward at the city’s Transportation Engineering Operations Division to evaluate the feasibility of removing that parking.”

Dynes’ early research suggested there would not be a net loss in parking spaces, so as a replacement, she said she would look into installing diagonal, back-in parking spaces on the east side of the street.

No formal action was taken, but board consensus was in support of removing the west-side parking. More information will be made available at the LJP&B meeting 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 24 (the board will not meet in July) at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.