Redesign of Coast walkway moving forward


By Dave Schwab

Landscape architect Jim Neri thinks there should be more hardscape, fewer plants and a more streamlined design along the Coast Boulevard walkway plaza.

With broad brush strokes, he painted a verbal picture for members of the La Jolla Parks & Beaches Committee on Nov. 26 of how best to remodel the plaza on the bluff overlooking Children’s Pool. The presentation followed by two months a public workshop on what the new look could encompass.

During that workshop, local residents toured the site, filled out questionnaires on what they liked and didn’t like about its design, and brainstormed ideas for improving it.

That day, Neri said the area is “more a plaza than a park and needs to be designed as such,” returning “this space to the pedestrians” while still accommodating the much needed parking.

Neri’s draft plan for reconfiguring the plaza calls for creating one major, wider walkway with 12 feet of space broken up with loveseat-like benches allowing people to sit on both sides.

“The idea is to have space for five people to walk abreast, where you can only get two or three people to walk now,” he said. “We’d like to see this space move a little better.”

One of his suggestions — to add shade trees to soften the look of the new Children’s Pool Lifeguard Tower — was not favorably received by those hearing his plan.

“That’s the only thing about the plan that’s inappropriate,” said Joe LaCava, a La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) trustee. “Trees will block views. We want to make this building as ionic as possible, and I think it should be as open as possible.”

Neri proposed using succulents — aloes, agaves and other varieties of drought-resistant plants — that do well near the ocean.

He noted the plan calls for moving tables used by competing seal and pro-beach activists off the main walkway so that passersby can choose to go by them or not.

Committee member Sally Miller suggested any fencing or railing in the redesign not be made out of wood but stainless steel or some other more weather-resistant material.

As he did with the public workshop previously, Neri said he would use the suggestions he heard at the meeting to fine-tune his design.

Next, he will present a more fleshed out proposal to the planning group, likely early next year.