McMansions, medians grab spotlight in Bird Rock


Next year’s projects and plans for the Bird Rock Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) were discussed after the Bird Rock Community Council (BRCC) meeting Nov. 4 at the La Jolla Masonic Hall. BRCC treasurer Barbara Dunbar explained that the MAD — which provides maintenance services (such as landscaping, graffiti removal and minor capital improvements) that supplement city services and are funded by fees assessed to Bird Rock property owners — had its quarterly city inspection in October.

“The city was very pleased with our area and the progress being made,” Dunbar said. “A number of issues were discussed, including water restrictions (which were voluntary at that time), damage to plants and irrigation systems run over by cars, and delivery vehicles parking on landscaped areas.”

To deter run-overs and errantly parked trucks, boulders were installed on the perimeter of the landscaped areas in front of the SeaHaus condominium complex on La Jolla Boulevard, Bird Rock’s main thoroughfare.

“We had repeated problems with damage to plants and irrigations systems, so that’s why the boulders were placed,” she said. “If they prove to be effective — and so far it looks like they might — we may put more in two other locations where we are experiencing intermittent problems.”

A frequently treaded area is the landscaped medians between Linda Rosa Avenue and Colima Street, and on the south side of Colima Street, a few blocks east of La Jolla Boulevard.

To discourage people from walking across the medians and trampling the vegetation, split-rail fencing was installed and set back to avoid irrigation systems.

MAD issues brought to the BRCC for future discussion include replacing the metal railings on the corners of La Jolla Boulevard and Bird Rock Avenue, Midway and Forward streets, as well as removing and replacing the sycamore trees on the medians.

“Some of the metal railings ... are in extremely bad shape and they have only been there for five years, which is pretty sad,” she said. “They are going to need to be replaced in the somewhat near future and the intention is to replace the railing with something far sturdier that will last longer than this one did.”

Also on MAD’s agenda is the removal of the sycamore trees that dot the medians and sidewalk corners, which the city planted when the roundabouts were installed.

“Originally, there were some gold medallion street trees, some of which had plaques on them,” Dunbar said. “Now we have 10 sycamores that have had nothing but problems.”

These include excessive roots (from being planted in an area too small for them); visibility issues for pedestrians; trees having split or double trunks further impairing visibility; fungus on the leaves, to which crews are constantly applying fungicide; and the wide leaves dropping and blocking the brow ditch drains. When the sycamores are removed, gold medallion trees, similar to those found throughout Bird Rock, will be planted.

Although the cost of materials has gone up, the $90 residential assessment will stay the same for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, ending June 30, 2016. “In all prior years, we have not needed to use the full amount budgeted and expect to actually spend less for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 than will be budgeted,” Dunbar said.

In other Bird Rock news:

Halloween “safe, quiet”: With the implementation of private security, increased police presence and residents turning off their lights at 8 p.m., the Neighborhood Watch chair reported Halloween 2014 was quieter and calmer than previous years. In the past, pumpkins were smashed, houses egged and trash left on sidewalks. This year, there was far less trash, no smashed pumpkins, and only three houses egged. Dunbar said the MAD would fund security for the evening in the future.

Small lots, big houses: Representing residents concerned with the potential “mansionization” of Bird Rock, Sharon Wampler said, “With the changes in the real estate market, there has been an increasing amount of construction. The La Jolla Community Planning Association should impose stricter regulations on developers and ‘flippers’ who are buying, remodeling and selling properties in Bird Rock.”

Citing three new residences as examples, Wampler said the same company developed them all and they look almost exactly the same. “Bird Rock is known for the charm and uniqueness of its homes and we don’t want to become a subdivision,” she said.

Wampler also cited concerns that the properties were too large for the lots on which they were built. “We just want to open the discussion, we are not anti- progress and not anti-construction, but the concern is we could end up with massive houses on small lots.”

Resident Dana Williams added that the developers are following the code as it is currently written. “Some of the concern is that the code does not protect the neighborhood and that’s what we want to address,” she said.

BRCC board member Jim Ragsdale said the issue of Floor Area Ratios (FARs), which might address some of the residents’ concerns, was being discussed at other community planning groups in San Diego.

BRCC president Jacqueline Bell suggested those with concerns present their thoughts to other boards handling the issue.

■ BRCC’s next meeting will be a holiday party, 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2 at Bird Rock Oyster and Sushi, 5752 La Jolla Blvd. BRCC meets first Tuesdays at venues across Bird Rock.