The city has proposed the installation and maintenance of a year-round 152-foot rope barrier at a height of four feet with a three-foot opening for ocean access to separate humans and seals at Children’s Pool beach.
Lifeguard union representative Sgt. Ed Harris presented LJCPA trustees with an alternative proposal using moveable boulders to create a buffer on the beach, which he dubbed as the “Wild West” due to authorities’ lack of ability to enforce code violations there.
“We see things that are unacceptable down there,” he said. “We’ve seen people yelling at children and making them cry — tourists, as well as children that live here.”
Harris’ plan calls for boulders to divide the beach into a designated seal area and a designated human area. About 70 to 75 percent of the beach would be allotted for seals in the winter months and 25 to 30 percent allotted for human access. The same percentage would be flip-flopped in the summer months.
“We need to try to bring both groups that are polarized on both sides of the issue to a more logical middle ground,” he said. “The rope barrier right now emboldens people to take the law into their own hands and harass people down there.”
Some LJCPA trustees and members of the public praised Harris for taking the lead on an alternative solution for shared use at the beach.
“I like this alternative because it’s a compromise. Like everything in life you have to find something that works for everyone,” said trustee Cindy Thorsen. “I think this is a wonderful solution … This is about a viable solution to how the beach can be used for the betterment of everyone.”
While some called the plan a “refreshing” and “fair” alternative to the problems at the contentious beach, others said the plan is not a practical solution.
“The rope can work,” said Dr. Jane Reldan, docent for the La Jolla Friends of the Seals, urging trustees to support the city’s recommendation for a year-round rope barrier. “The idea of moving boulders is a very strange idea … The issue on the table is not Ed Harris’ suggestion in the 11th hour when the Coastal Commission and the city posted the proposal for the city to have the year-round rope permit application.”
She also said moving the boulders would be nearly impossible due to the sheer weight of the rocks and argued that Harris’ plan for dredging portions of the sand each time the boulders are moved to decontaminate the beach would still not reduce bacteria levels to a point that is safe for human activity.
“People should really not be on that beach,” she said. “The rope is simple, easy and works. Please support the city’s application and not this nonsensical, unrealistic explanation of moving boulders and dredging sand, which will be so much harder to do.”
Trustee Devin Burstein said he was baffled as to why those who are pro-separation of humans and seals would advocate for a rope barrier when, in fact, boulders would make for a sturdier physical and psychological boundary between the two.
“Ed’s presenting a way that is a good way to separate people from the seals,” he said. “The rope doesn’t do that. The rope is just a rope. Even if the rope is there year round, even if it’s put in with jackhammers, you can just walk under it. If you’re opposing Ed’s plan on the basis of wanting to separate the seals and we want a rope to do it, it just strikes me as illogical.”
In the end, trustees reaffirmed their opposition to the year-round rope barrier and supported the La Jolla Parks and Beaches action in June to give the community six months to come up with reasonable mitigation alternatives for people and seals to share the beach.
The California Coastal Commission hearing on the city’s permit application for a year-round rope barrier to separate humans and seals at the Children’s Pool beach will take place on July 11 at 8:30 a.m. at the Chula Vista City Council Chambers, located at 276 Fourth Ave.
For a full explanation of Ed Harris’ proposal, see “Lifeguard union proposes long-term solution to endless Children’s Pool saga” at www.sdnews.com.
To view or not to view
LJCPA trustees attempted three motions — all of which failed for lack of a majority — regarding a request to grant a neighborhood development permit to an existing free-standing solid five- to six-foot wall in the public right-of-way at 2974 Caminito Bello.
“We’re not asking for anything that is out of character here in La Jolla Shores,” said Brian Longmore, representative for the applicant.
Since the project is not in the coastal overlay zone, the property owners are not obligated to provide a public view corridor by reducing the height of the wall to three feet, Longmore said. Furthermore, there is a dedicated open space park, Pottery Canyon Overlook, adjacent to the property line where people can enjoy views.
“Certainly a view isn’t something you’re going to try to look through a house to see when you have 300 open feet and vistas of the ocean right next to your property,” he said. “The city made numerous trips out there and determined there was absolutely no view to gain from the south end because of the way the angle of the house sits. There’s nothing to see if that fence isn’t there.”
City officials proposed that the applicant convert the top two feet and corner of the solid wall to glass to allow for more transparent views for passersby.
“The city couldn’t unanimously decide whether this was in the view corridor or not. They had given us some leeway to ask this group if we could do away with the glass,” said Longmore.
Some trustees were torn between the applicants’ right to privacy and maintaining view corridors if there is, in fact, some view to be had.
“The property is on a roadway from which identified public views can be had,” said trustee Phil Merten. “Between the building envelope and the side yard setback, the city typically requires that development be held at no more than three feet in height, whether it be fencing, walls or landscaping.”
Trustee Tim Lucas said the glass panels would be an unnecessary expense if no views were to be gained at either side of the house.
“I don’t think they should have to somehow open that wall and create a view corridor if you’re not going to see anything,” he said. “I do believe in peoples’ rights to privacy. I don’t think on the north side there was much to gain by putting a glass wall there either, because you have this wonderful open space to the north right next to it that you can view easily.”
Around the community
• The La Jolla Shores PDO Advisory Board is seeking one local architect and one La Jolla Shores resident to fill two vacant seats on the board. The La Jolla Shores Advisory Board meets at 9 a.m. on the third Tuesday each month.
• The LJCPA recommended approval of street closures for the 19th annual San Diego Triathlon Challenge, End of Summer Fire Run and La Jolla Art & Wine Festival, an all-way stop sign at the intersection of Draper Avenue and Westbourne Street, construction of the Girgis Residence, and an Extension of Time for a neighborhood development permit for the construction of two single family residences on Almeria Court.
• A neighborhood use permit was approved for Chase Bank, located at 5605 La Jolla Blvd. Changes to the project, including a redesign of the parking lot and inclusion of ADA compliant ramps, were made since its approval at the Planned District Ordinance (PDO) subcommittee level.
• Trustees recommended approval of changes to the AT&T building, located at 5644 La Jolla Blvd., as well as an increasing the speed limit from 25 mph to 35 mph on La Jolla Scenic Drive North.
• Trustees recommended that the findings could be made for a variance to build an 8- to 10-foot wall on a nearly 20-foot vertically cut slope at 1705 Valdes Drive.
• “There are a number of neighborhoods that are concerned about utility boxes, and the poor choices that were made by the utility companies and the size and location of those, especially in the residential areas and our commercial sidewalks,” said LJCPA vice president Joe LaCava.
The Community Planners Committee will hold a community workshop at its July 24 meeting to discuss the issue with utility company representatives, he said. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at 9192 Topaz Way.
• LJCPA trustees approved architect James Alcorn’s conceptual “Belvedere Dip” plan — a proposal he initiated more than two decades ago to convert the confluence of Girard Avenue, Prospect Street and Herschel Avenue into a pedestrian promenade area and improved roadway for traffic circulation. The project would not deplete any parking, however trustees aired some concern about 90-degree parking along the steep slope on lower Girard Avenue. Alcorn agreed to return to the LJCPA once the detailed plans are complete.
Inside the LJCPA
• Council Policy 600-24 states that elected members must state for the record their reasons for abstaining on a vote, announced LJCPA vice president Joe LaCava.
• Three candidates, Bob Collins, Dr. Jane Reldan and Robert Steck, will vie for one vacant seat on the LJCPA board of trustees at next month’s meeting on Aug. 2.
“I’ve been around in this organization since 1964 and served on most of them including this body, and I’d like to serve again,” said Collins.
Dr. Jane Reldan, La Jolla resident for more than 25 years, said her qualifications — which differ from most of the trustees — would add a diverse dynamic to the LJCPA board.
“I love La Jolla and pledge to dedicate myself to serve in the community if I am voted as a trustee,” she said.
Candidate Robert Steck, who was unable to attend the LJCPA’s July meeting, submitted a candidate’s statement to the trustees.
“My wife and I have lived in La Jolla for three years, and we have been struck by the number of controversial issues, such as the Children’s Pool seal issue,” said LJCPA secretary Dan Allen on behalf of Steck. “I’d like to take part in the solution.”
• Trustees Cindy Thorsen and Tim Lucas requested that the Traffic and Transportation board (T&T) improve communication to the public and LJCPA trustees.
“I’m just wondering if there could be better noticing about these community issues that a lot of people would be concerned about,” said Thorsen of a recent incident where the meeting date was changed.
Trustee Tim Lucas also urged T&T board members to elaborate on written meeting minutes more so LJCPA trustees know what they are approving or disapproving on their consent agenda.
“The T&T minutes are so sparse. There’s nothing on their discussion, you get basically their motion, but you have no idea what was considered,” said Lucas. “As a trustee, I’m very reluctant to not pull everything because I don’t know if T&T discussed it or not. Nothing is indicated in the minutes as to what transpired.”