La Jolla architect submits plans to transform Marine Street Beach
by EMILY BLACKWOOD
Published - 01/21/19 - 08:15 AM | 6994 views | 17 17 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Erik Holtsmark returns to the beach he’s been visiting since he was a teenager. / Photo by Emily Blackwood
Erik Holtsmark returns to the beach he’s been visiting since he was a teenager. / Photo by Emily Blackwood
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A rendering of what Marine Memorial Park would look like. / Courtesy of Erik Holtsmark
A rendering of what Marine Memorial Park would look like. / Courtesy of Erik Holtsmark
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If you were looking for Harry Martinez and Erik Holtsmark back in the 1950s, there was pretty much only one place you’d find them: Marine Street Beach, sitting on their surfboards, laughing and chanting to Neptune for some killer waves.

That was six decades ago, and even back then – when Holtsmark said they were lucky if they could find six people on the beach to play volleyball – the two friends talked about how the dead-end of Marine Street could be put to better use. Not only was it essentially just a place for beachgoers to illegally park, but access to the water was borderline dangerous.

Since the years have gone by and Marine Beach is “like Coney Island” in the summertime, safe access has become an even more important, according to Holtsmark. He’s experienced the issues of the old single staircase to the beach firsthand.

“It’s a terrible little stairway down,” he said. “One time, a guy got a speargun to his side, and I had to help try to carry him up those stairs to the ambulance above.”

Holtsmark, who was 16 when that happened, believes it’s time for a spot, as well-frequented as Marine Beach, to get some upgrades. Being in the construction and building business since he was 12, he decided to draw up some plans of what his ideal use of the land would be.

The project is called Marine Memorial Mall, and it includes three loading spots for cars, a parking spot for emergency vehicles, two fountain pools in the shapes of a heart and a stomach, statues of Neptune, seals, pelicans and other sea life, one waterfall, a large chess and checker board, a wading pool, elevated benches for prime ocean viewing, a handicap elevator ramp, public restrooms, an area for vending machines, an upgraded lifeguard stand and, of course, a safe staircase to the beach.

While he acknowledges that it’s a lot for one park, Holtsmark estimates that it could all be done for $4.5 million. That price tag excludes all the benches, chairs, statues plaques and murals, which would be covered by people looking to purchase dedications. Which is coincidentally how this all got started.

In an attempt to help a friend fund a bench along the La Jolla coastline to dedicate in memory of her husband, Holtsmark said he was denied three times by the San Diego Department of Parks & Recreation.

That’s when he realized that his friend’s memorial bench and his decades-old idea for Marine Street could be combined. Plans were drawn up, and he submitted the proposal for Marine Memorial Mall to both the San Diego Department of Parks & Recreation and the La Jolla Parks & Beaches. He was invited to present his idea in front of the board at their next meeting, which is at 4 p.m. on Jan. 28 at the La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St.  

“I would love to see something created out of this space that’s bothered me for so long,” Holtsmark said. “Turn an ugly dead-end, dangerous street into something nice, useful and attractive.”

Sadly, Harry Martinez won’t be able to see the space that he and Holtsmark used to talk about transforming when they were kids. After graduating from San Diego State University, he went into the military and became a captain in the United States Air Force. He flew more than 60 missions in Vietnam before he died in a crash while flying a fighter jet. He was 29.

But even though Martinez isn’t around, Holtsmark said he probably would like his idea.

“We always talked about how something should be done.”

And after six decades, something might be.

Comments
(17)
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welovemarine
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January 28, 2019
this is a horrible idea. this beach means alot to so many people and this idea will ruin it. it will flood the beach we love with tourists and children. this isnt a family friendly beach, it can be a dangerous break where we can all work on our watersports. i do not like this idea and i will be beyond pissed if it follows through
Kevinjimenez
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January 24, 2019
Marine street is a beautiful beach. The playground sounds like a good idea. But, the surf isn’t family friendly. It’s one of the most dangerous shore breaks in San Diego county along with the most under manned lifeguarded stretch of beach. The little pool they’re thinking of building on the beach is a good idea, but, have you guys been down there lately? Any big north swell will wipe out that whole beach all the way up to the wall and will take everything they built out to sea. There’s no sand on the beach when a swell hits and it takes seasons and opposite swell directions to gain the sand back. There’s already parking problems, constant vehicle thefts, and heavy traffic, nearest bathroom is over 3 blocks away, and just doesn’t cater to families.
Bob Stacey
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January 23, 2019
Several people have died and had broken necks in the Shorebreak at Marine Street. Public Safety should always be the first priority when purposing a project like this. The Public would be at high risk every time they go into the Shore Break at Marine Street or Sea Lane. This is the wrong place for a Public Park for Novice Wave Riders, Children, Mom and Pops, and Senior Citizens. This location is a disaster just waiting to happen.

LJ Contractor
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January 23, 2019
Fun idea, but really bad idea. There's already no parking, tight streets, no bathroom, it's ugly IMHO. It has a large water feature when Socal is in a drought... it's located right next a beautiful beach... go into the ocean! It really makes no sense whatsoever. $4.5M can certainly be more useful elsewhere. This article is probably the furthest this plan is going to go.
Grabby Developer
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January 22, 2019
People can park at Mitt's house. It'll all work out. Our studies have shown.
Bob Kohl
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January 22, 2019
Just one block south of the proposed park at the foot of Sea Lane there is a perfect sandy beach which deserves a park like like Holtsmark has in mind. The access is great and there is lots of parking on Dunemere Drive and Sea Lane.
Ben Schmidt
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January 22, 2019
Hey Eric,

Put down the crack pipe. That "park" would last about a week before the homeless start washing their clothes in the "fountain" and take over the benches. Not remotely feasible. Keep MS as-is with a few street and sea wall improvements.
Beteur Dawler
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January 22, 2019
Better to increase parking in the area using one way streets and diagonal parking. Studies show this will increase beach access by over 30% at a very minimal cost.
GravillaSt
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January 22, 2019
No. This sleepy beach is tucked into a residential neighborhood where people live specifically to not have the rabble of OB, PB and Mission Beach. Not every beach needs to be a vacation destination.

In addition to more difficulties with parking and noise, I can already foresee more panhandlers as they hit up the hordes of tourists yelling at each other as they swarm the area like locusts. I don't see bathrooms in this little diagram so I can assume more public urination (and worse) will be seen.

If this was proposed in the middle of a business area it would make a lot more sense as it would bring more customers to the immediate area. As it stands I see more trash, noise, cars, hypodermic needles, and public urination right in the heart of La Jolla. No thanks.
Bob Kohl
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January 22, 2019
First San Francisco and soon La Jolla. It is no secret why you are seeing more homeless in La Jolla. The new 400 unit supportive housing project that is planned on La Jolla Blvd near Nautilus is funded by Millenium Villages Projects. They purchased options to buy several contiguous parcels at very high prices.
LJHS Senior
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January 21, 2019
Marine Street in deep within a residential neighborhood with very limited parking. Currently and during many winter months there is virtually no beach during the highest tides and dangerous rip tides and poor swimming whenever the swell is over 4-5ft. Not sure who performed what limited due diligence to this story before publishing it, but it rates as 100% unrealistic fluff.
MaishaGrinn
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January 21, 2019
You are correct, sir.
Greg Cobb
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January 21, 2019
. . . Marine Beach is “like Coney Island” in the summertime . . .

That statement is false. It is not "Marine Beach", it's "Marine Street", and it is nothing like Coney Island, you dolt! Coney Island was built as an Amusement Park in 1895, comparable to Wonderland in Ocean Beach, not to anything in La Jolla. The Marine Street and Sea Lane beach access and communities were never the locations of any sort of Amusement Park. Del Mar was. Go there. Go home!

Go away, and never, ever come back!
who cares
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January 21, 2019
spoken like a true NIMBY.
Greg Cobb
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January 21, 2019
No, no, no, no, no. That's a residential neighborhood, not the County Park. That guy clearly isn't from that community. Go away, "that guy", and stay away. Please. Take your ideas home, and never ever come back.
who cares
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January 21, 2019
are you President of the local NIMBY chapter?
MaishaGrinn
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January 21, 2019
That time the guy with no experience with a backyard of his own presumed to judge a "nimby".
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