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Shores Association approves downsized infrastructure project

By Dave Schwab

daves@lajollalight.com

A significantly downsized storm drain, sewer and water replacement project, which La Jolla Shores merchants feared would put them out of business, was endorsed by the La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) last week.

The vote was 10-1 with Nanci Kirk, owner of Papalulu’s at the Shores Restaurant, dissenting.

City officials said the work is required because of frequent flooding caused by undersized storm drains on Avenida De La Playa, which feed directly into the ocean posing a pollution threat to the Area of Special Biological Significance (ASBS) offshore.

Bill Harris of the city’s Storm Water Division gave a presentation at the group’s Dec. 14 meeting describing the revised Avenida De La Playa Infrastructure Replacement as “shorter in length, smaller in scale, and one that is going to allow us to work with the community to bring down the impacts.”

As originally proposed, the $3.6 million project would have replaced 1,300 feet of storm drain, 1,200 feet of sewer, and 150 feet of water line and the (ocean) outfall structure in the Shores working block-by-block in four phases beginning at the beach and working back toward La Jolla Shores Drive, in September 2012.

Merchants complained the large-scale disruption to the commercial strip would be intolerable.

As currently planned, the first phase of the project will replace and realign 650 linear feet of existing storm drain and include upgrading the outfall structure, as well as installing low flow diversion and trash collector systems upstream.

Some LJSA board members and residents have joined in a construction mitigation advisory group that has been meeting with the city to explore ways to mitigate the impacts of infrastructure replacement on the business district.

One member, Tim Lucas, said of the city’s new plan, “It’s a pretty good design compromise. They listened to the merchants, did not do the segment in front of the businesses now.”

But not everyone was sold on the city’s concept.

“I still disagree on the mechanics,” said Martin Mosier, longtime Shores property manager. “Water will continue to come down the street. Do we really need to spend this money?”

The revamped project will next be heard by the La Jolla Community Planning Association at a date to be determined.