Planting on coastal cliff could result in city fine


By Pat Sherman

A weeks-long mystery as to who planted two Torrey pine trees and other foliage on a cliff near La Jolla’s historic Coast Walk has been solved.

The work was completed by a landscaper hired by Jim Allen, owner of Sunny Jim Cave store at the northern end of Coast Boulevard.

Community activist Melinda Merryweather reported the plantings last month to Dan Daneri, district manager for San Diego’s Park and Recreation Department.

“It’s city property ... (that’s) stated as parkland,” Merryweather said.

“The worst are the two Torrey pine trees,” she said, speculating that the trees would obscure public views once mature, and cause damage to a sea cave underneath from their root systems.

“It’s terribly arrogant of somebody to decided they are going

to redesign city property,” Merryweather said. “This is all without permits, nothing. ... You should have a workshop first and get (the community) together” to offer their input.

Reached by phone at his shop, Allen said he added the pines and “coastal native plants” as a means of stabilizing the cliff, so that it doesn’t succumb to the same fate as La Jolla’s Alligator Head, the arch of which collapsed in 1978.

“It’s eroding away,” he said of the cliff. “In another couple of years it will all be gone.”

Despite posted signs stating that diving and jumping is prohibited, and warn of unstable cliffs, Allen said tourists repeatedly traipse out onto the cliff.

“Over the years their foot traffic got rid of all the vegetation that was on top. Then the rains came and eroded the soil and created huge ruts, creating a hazard to people — basically just ruining the ambiance of the whole area,” he said.

“The public should be thrilled. Before I started it was nothing but huge ruts and bird (droppings). I’m just reestablishing what was there before — the coastal native planting.”

Asked if he obtained the city’s permission or required permits before proceeding, Allen responded, “No, why would I? I’m not going to get into that. ... If the city has an issue with me they can come and talk to me about it.”

Daneri said he has never heard of someone planting on coastal city property without permission.

“This is a new one on me,” he said.

Bob Vacchi, a deputy director with the city’s neighborhood code compliance department, said such unpermitted planting on city property could result in a fine of $100 to $1,000.