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Stay involved to protect Torrey Pines Gliderport

By Cindy Greatrex

La Jolla resident

The Torrey Pines Gliderport, open since the 1920s and currently one of only two U.S. flight parks listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is under siege from all directions: in 2007, the plan for a 14-story UCSD student housing complex; in 2008, the 135,000-square-foot, four-story research facility proposed by the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine and the planned expansion of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (temporarily shelved due to environmental concerns concerning vernal pools).

Our gliderport was once one of 10 on the West Coast, and now is the only coastal cliff gliderport in the U.S. During the permitting process of the UCSD expansion, the university did not produce an environmental impact report, but instead submitted a short document known as a mitigated negative declaration. This did not take into account the critically needed eastward landing approach of the gliderport, which was affected by the expansion. Gliders travel over 20 feet for every 1 foot of descent, so the expansion of the UCSD footprint surrounding the gliderport did indeed affect the landing patterns.

What is the future of our gliderport, one of La Jolla’s treasured jewels? Land use for commercial purposes is at a premium even in troubled economic times, and the California Coastal Commission cannot stop ongoing encroachment. One of the reasons cited by the California Board of Regents in approving the UCSD expansion was the lack of neighborhood concern or protest. It was San Diego voters who gave this land to UCSD in 1960 in a neighborly fashion — let us now stay involved and keep the neighborhood intact for future generations to enjoy without fear of additional subdivision.