It was a bit overwhelming for many audience members, one of whom exclaimed, “Disneyland,” reacting to the artist rendering Holtsmark presented.
“I know there is going to be emotional opposition to this vision, both from ever-present naysayers, and those who say, ‘Stop, once they get theirs,’” said Holtsmark, who argued the Beach-Barber Tract “isn’t the same quaint neighborhood it once was.”
Noting he grew up in La Jolla, then returned after being gone for some time, Holtsmark continued to build his case. “Eleven of the 20 homes on Marine Street are owned by people who don’t live there,” Holtsmark said adding, “Only four of the 20 houses are still on single lots. The others are two, three, even four lots.”
Holtsmark believes it’s time for a spot as well-frequented as Marine Beach to get some upgrades. Being in the construction and building business, he decided to draw up some plans of what his ideal use of the land would be.
His project is called Marine Memorial Mall. 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.
Following Holtzmark’s presentation, Jack DeFranco spoke on behalf of the Beach Barber Tract Homeowners Association.
“This is an absurd use of a newly enlarged plaza, whose purpose should be to provide added space for visitors walking, cycling and using baby strollers or wheelchairs safely,” countered DeFranco. “Even one table in the plaza would obstruct the right-of-way wasting space blocked by vendors.”
Added DeFranco: “The relationship between La Jolla and the ocean must always be protected. La Jolla’s oceanfront setting is, and will continue to be, the focus of this community.”
Noting that “The Barber Tract Homeowners Association has neither asked for, nor was consulted about, the building of a neighborhood park,” DeFranco presented the following list of reasons from concerned citizens opposing Holtsmark’s proposed wall:
• The park does not add value to the neighborhood.
• Money can be better spent on other La Jolla projects.
• There will be an increase in loitering by homeless.
• The house on 7348 Vista Del Mar has a driveway cut permit on Marine Street in the middle of the park.
• A memorial is a better fit where the honoree lives.
• The park does not fit the character of the neighborhood.
• The water features pose safety and health problems and increased maintenance costs to the city.
• The fire lane path is too narrow for emergency vehicles and places responders farther from the beach access.
• The city sewer access would be restricted, or it would have to be moved.
• The beach-side features of the park will not withstand the winter-storm high tides.
• The statues and benches provide a target-rich area for graffiti.
• White Sands trash removal will be hindered because they use the park site as a staging area.