La Jolla looking for park land – residents suggest parklets and view corridors for more open space
Hikers look south to La Jolla Cove from a lookout on one of the trails at Torrey Pines State Reserve. / THOMAS MELVILLE / LA JOLLA VILLAGE NEWS
The public perception is that much of La Jolla’s public park space lies underwater.
That point was debated at length at a recent La Jolla Parks and Beaches meeting where City park staffers discussed an ongoing update to the citywide parks master plan, which includes La Jolla.
The City got an outpouring of ideas and opinions from La Jollans arguing their community is decidedly “under parked” with its above-ground parks and open spaces.
LJPB planners have long held that much of the community’s available park space is in the submerged, 6,000-acre San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park between Torrey Pines State Reserve and La Jolla Cove.
On Oct. 22, Meredith Dawson, Shannon Scoggins and Rosalia Castruita representing the City’s Parks and Recreation Department invited residents to share their views on the quality of La Jolla’s existing park space, vetting where more space could possibly be found.
“The City’s parks master plan has not been done since 1956 and we’re now laying out a new plan,” said Dawson. “We’re meeting with stakeholder groups who are invested in local neighborhood parks.”
“Park advocates are key stakeholders,” Scoggins told LJPB’s board, adding the objective is to “create a roadmap” guiding parks master-plan revision.
Scoggins said the City wants to standardize its definition of what a park is, as well as make parks more publicly accessible.
“We want people to live a minimum of a 10-minute walk and 20-minute bike ride from meaningful open space,” Scoggins said.
An audience member replied those time intervals might be excessively long for moms with strollers or seniors, adding the City needs to consider the multi-generational needs of park users.
Resident Gail Forbes inquired if the San Diego Unified School District had been approached about sharing school recreational spaces. Scoggins replied that, with today’s heightened school security, it has become increasingly difficult for the public to use school space without shared-use agreements.
“We are the most under parked community in San Diego,” contended LJPB board member Melinda Merryweather. “We need to come up with some more land.”
Merryweather suggested Pottery Canyon, a designated City historical site off Torrey Pines Road, would be ideal for a picnic park.
LJPB board member Patrick Ahern said pocket parks and view corridors shouldn’t be overlooked.
The Cove’s Coast Walk trail ought to be considered for park space, argued one audience member, to which another replied, “That trail is a dedicated street. The homeowners own the land so it can’t become a park.”
Another resident argued La Jolla needs more off-leash dog space, complaining popular Capehart dog park on Mount Soledad is inadequate.
Bird Rock resident Sharon Wampler noted the city ought to take a closer look at parklets and remnant lots in its quest to find more park space.
Architectural historian Diane Kane said the city ought to consider the historical and cultural resources of parks in its parks master-plan update.
“That is what we want to hear,” said Dawson in response to the public’s comments. “We’re going to be fleshing out trends coming from these listening sessions.”
LJPB board member Phyllis Minick asked why the abandoned De Anza Mobile Park site isn’t being considered for park space. She was told that site’s future is being debated in the City’s ongoing De Anza Revitalization Plan. One proposal calls for the former mobile home park to be turned into shorefront camping.
How much park space is in La Jolla?
Addressing the actual amount of public park space in La Jolla, and whether or not any of it is underwater, the City confirmed the community is “under parked,” but said none of its calculated park space is inundated.
“Population-based park acreage requirements come from the Recreation Element of the City’s General Plan and are generally made up of community parks, neighborhood parks, mini parks and joint-use areas,” said City spokesperson Tim Graham. “We are to provide 2.8 acres of usable parkland per 1,000 residents.”
Noting useable parkland is generally flat enough for recreational use, Graham said, “In 2106 La Jolla was determined to be 30.51 acres in deficit of useable parkland, and are projected to be 37.66 acres short in 2035.”
Graham said La Jolla is a little unusual in that, “There are areas along the coast, such as south of Children’s Pool, that appear to be parkland,” while adding, “But they are actually street right-of-way. Those types of areas are not included in the calculations because they are not designated parks.”
Added Graham, “Then you have Charlotte Park, which is nothing more than a rocky beach that can only be accessed from the ocean except maybe in an extremely low tide.”
Graham said Charlotte Park was likely donated to the City many years ago, and was probably designated as a park because, “There wasn’t any other category it would fit into.”
“The San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park is counted toward the City’s overall park acreage, but not towards La Jolla’s population-based park needs,” said Graham, pointing out the underwater park is considered more as a regional park because it attracts people from all over, not primarily La Jolla.