Nonprofit Friends of La Jolla Shores was joined by Mayor Bob Filner at a June 20 press conference to announce a lawsuit against T.B. Penick & Sons, Inc. and Shaw & Sons, Inc., alleging fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and negligence.
At issue is The Map, a 2,300-square-foot plaza at Kellogg Park depicting marine life at La Jolla Shores. The Map has seriously deteriorated since the two contractors completed the educational project in September 2008.
“It’s a tragic outrage,” said William Lerach, spokesman for Friends of La Jolla Shores, a group led by Mary Coakley Munk, which raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to build the ocean-side artistic tile representation of underwater life in the offshore kelp forest. “It’s a safety hazard — it’s got to be fixed. What was to be the pride of the community is now an eyesore and a public safety hazard.
“Pinick wouldn’t do the right thing,” Lerach continued. “So the people who raised the money for this, Friends of La Jolla Shores, are suing them.”
The assembled crowd chanted “T.B. Penick, fix The Map,” while dignitaries spoke.
Witnessing The Map’s dissolution for the first time, Filner said, “Whatever the reason, incompetence or whatever, we need to change it. It’s terrible that we have to sue. But we’re going to bring whatever resources we as a city can bear to help.”
Former county Supervisor Pam Slater-Price described The Map as “a wonderful educational project critical for children.”
“What we’re doing now is putting them (Penick) on notice,” she said.
Famed Scripps oceanographer Walter Munk described the underwater canyons off La Jolla Shores discovered about a century ago as a complete “surprise,” adding how they formed “remains a mystery” to researchers.
The 95-year-old scientist pointed out the underwater canyons depicted in The Map are important to scuba divers and surfers alike because “the canyons have a very large effect on the quality of the breaking waves.”
Catharine Douglass of Friends of La Jolla Shores summed up the feelings of many at the news conference.
“The community’s dream has morphed into the nightmare that it is today, robbing hundreds of thousands of the opportunity to learn more about the ocean environment and leaving us with an unsafe and unsightly realm of destruction,” she said.