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Torrey Pines City Park plan agreement reached

Stakeholders have achieved consensus on a draft general development plan to improve and enhance 44-acre Torrey Pines City Park, which includes La Jolla’s historic gliderport.

The compromise park plan has been cobbled together over the last several months by the Torrey Pines City Park Advisory Board, which includes representatives of nonmotorized aviation, environmentalists and community planners from University City, La Jolla and Del Mar.

The plan calls for conserving coastal bluffs and native habitat while protecting site access for all user groups, especially gliderport pilots who require flight clearance.

“We’re working toward endorsing the General Development Plan at our next meeting on Feb. 18 of next year,” said Laura Burnett of the consulting firm of Wallace Roberts & Todd, which has been guiding stakeholders through the general plan development process in cooperation with Michelle Abella-Shon of the city of San Diego’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“Our goal has been to make sure that we’ve heard from everyone on this plan,” she added. “Then we can move forward.”

Though leaning toward less park development rather than more, the plan envisions a number of additions and improvements including: a museum building, new signage, gathering areas on north and/or south bluffs, two new pump restrooms, storm-

water detention and use, parking for 565 vehicles including dedicated pilot space, plant habitat restoration, picnic tables, enhanced pedestrian paths with railing and the possibility of concessions.

Water and sewer connections to the park are not planned due to the cost and complexity of adding them, as well as the desire to redevelop the site in a more natural, passive way.

At the advisory board’s Nov. 19 meeting, Burnett and group chair Ginny Barnes worked with stakeholders to further “tweak” the draft general development plan before it comes back to the group in final form Feb. 18.

Those present, mostly aviators, generally agreed that the working draft plan being presented by consultants was well thought out and carefully balanced the interests of other user groups, like hikers and birdwatchers, with their own.

Ed Slater, representing Associated Glider Clubs of Southern California, praised consultants for doing an “excellent job,” but cautioned that aviators use the park disproportionately during peak-use times and will require much more devoted parking space then.

“When full-scale glider operations are going on, you’re going to lose half of the (565 space) parking for eight to 12 weeks,” he said. “You’re going to need to make sure everybody knows about that.”

Barnes, the chairwoman, pointed out a parking problem she saw with the plan that needs to be resolved regarding separating parking for glider pilots and other park users.

“How do you manage control of who’s allowed to park where?” she asked, adding that a gate or an attendant might be required.