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Torrey Pines City Park’s planning process proceeds

Stakeholders were busy reimagining ways to improve and enhance 44-acre Torrey Pines City Park, which includes La Jolla’s historic Torrey Pines Gliderport, during a public workshop at a park advisory board meeting last week.

Michael Stepner, city Park & Recreation board member, said it’s important for the group to answer the question, who is the park for?

“Can improvements accommodate more people than now?” he asked. “It’s more than just a physical design. You’re talking about developing operational and management plans. Unless you have all three elements, it’s not going to hang together.”

Torrey Pines City Park Advisory Board, a group that includes La Jollans Ken King and Mary Coakley, is crafting a long-term plan for the park at 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive that is adjacent to the Salk Institute and has walking paths leading down to the ocean.

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Stakeholder groups represented on the advisory board appointed by the mayor include representatives of nonmotorized aviation groups that use the gliderport as well as environmentalists, UCSD and planners from surrounding communities including University City, La Jolla and Del Mar.

Those at the Aug. 20 meeting were asked to fill out a form offering their ideas on everything from park aesthetics and beach access to conservation, education, passive recreation and support facilities. The results will be compiled and reviewed at the Park Advisory Board’s next meeting.

Laura Burnett of the consulting firm of Wallace Roberts & Todd, which is working on the development plan that is due for completion in February, said they are still at the beginning of the process.

“Our goal is to look at a long list of all things anyone can imagine should go there on that property,” she said. “We’ve got a long way to go.”

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Park advisory board member Douglas Williamson, representing University Community Planning Group, expressed concern some stakeholders have been left out. “What about the homeowners associations and the small houses to the south?” he asked.

Burnett responded, “We need to make sure we’ve spoken with everyone in the community.”

Group chairwoman Ginny Barnes questioned how much parking is appropriate.

“It’s not easy to figure out the right balance: But that is part of our charge,” she said.

Park consultants said they are doing a parking survey to determine the optimum number of spaces available and will report back at the group’s next meeting.

Coakley, La Jolla Park and Recreation Inc.'s representative, said beach access will “drive what has to happen” with park planning.

“We need to find out what is going to be required with ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) requirements,” she said.

Other ideas advanced by group members included adding a clubhouse, a trail loop, restroom facilities, flight administrative buildings, a ranger station, and enhancing beach access and signage.

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Once the park’s general development plan is completed, Barnes said it will be scrutinized by the city Park & Recreation Board before being turned over to City Council subcommittees for review.

Michelle Abella-Shon, city planning manager for Torrey Pines City Park, said if all goes well with environmental review for the park’s general development plan it could be heard by the City Council at the end of 2010.

What’s next

  • The park advisory board will not meet in September.
  • Their next meeting will be Oct. 15 at Westfield UTC Forum Hall.