Unfortunately, what the advisory group believes would solve the problem — hiring a new park ranger — is no closer to fruition. Where the money to hire a ranger would come from is still a mystery.
It’s all been part of an ongoing discussion at LJSA, which makes recommendations to the city on parks and community-related issues, about what to do concerning unpermitted and unregulated user groups at Kellogg Park.
“The community is concerned about Kellogg Park and it’s on our radar screen,” said San Diego police Lt. Mike Hasting at the Sept. 12 meeting. “We’re working on requiring permitting for ice cream trucks, removing (improper) tents, etc. But I can’t stand in front of this committee and tell you the park gates will always be closed at 10 p.m. and opened at 6 a.m. every morning. It just depends on the workload.”
The issue, said LJSA chairwoman Audrey Keane, is one of fairness to the park’s users who follow the permitting regulations.
“The crux of the issue is we have commercial use of the park and beaches by scuba and other non-permitted groups, while we have kayaks and surf camps that are regulated by RFP’s (request for permits) and their clients pay permit fees,” Keane said. “It doesn’t seem fair that we have kayak and surf camps that pay fees, when there are private parties that make money and have free trade shows on the beach. That is not right.”
Erin Demorest of District 1 City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner’s office reported on the amount of fees that permitted surf and kayak camps pay to the city’s general fund each year in order to operate.
“The amount of money collected was about $68,000 in surf-camp revenue,” she said. “In fiscal year 2012, kayak companies paid about $237,000 in permit fees.”
The money collected from fees, said LJSA board member Mary Coakley, “ought to pay for a park ranger.” But that $237,000, Keane said, wouldn’t go very far in the end.
“One park ranger isn’t going to change things that are structural in nature,” Keane said. “There’s really not that much money being collected. It costs millions of dollars to manage this park and beach.”
But, Coakley maintained, with such a small geographical area, a ranger might do the trick.
“The park is small enough that a park ranger is going to make a huge difference,” she said. “Anyone who runs a business at the park and causes wear and tear there, there should be some payback for the park. Not a dime of the RFP money comes back and helps the park.”
A ranger, however, “isn’t going to enforce regulations that don’t exist,” Demorest pointed out.
Demorest suggested the LJSA request funding for a ranger from the city’s Park and Recreation Department in upcoming city budget deliberations, as a way to jumpstart momentum for hiring a park ranger.
“There could be some seed money open up in the future,” Demorest said. “You might try to attack it from multiple angles.”
Former LJSA board member Tim Lucas, agreeing with Coakley, expressed his desire for some of the fees collected to be funneled back into the park.
“I just want to see 1 percent of (RFP) money collected from here put back into it (Kellogg Park),” Lucas said. “If 30 percent of that money stayed in the community, you could fund a ranger.”
As an alternative, board member Janie Emerson suggested the LJSA take matters into its own hands.
“We could hire a private firm to go out and police the park and raise some money for it,” Emerson said.
In other matters
• Joe LaCava, vice president of the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA), invited the community to the next meeting of the advisory group, which makes land-use recommendations to the city, on Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 6 p.m at La Jolla Recreation Center.
“We want all La Jollans to come out and express how they’d like to see city funds on capital improvement projects, i.e. roads, storm drains, fire stations, etc. spent,” he said. “The caveat is the city is still struggling financially so no new projects are likely to get funded. But we’re creating a process that we will be able to take advantage of next year as the city’s finances improve. It’s a good opportunity for La Jollans to get together and present some ideas on what the projects and priorities should be.”
For more information on the capital improvement program, visit www.lajollacpa.org/cip.html.
• During public comment, Lucas said he felt UCSD’s MESOM project, now under construction on La Jolla Shores Drive, is much more obtrusive visually than had been represented to the community previously by university planners.
“It’s a shame this view has been stolen from the community,” he said.
“This is not what was presented to us,” she said.
Anu Delouri of UCSD planning told the group that engineers said the project is being built exactly according to specifications relayed to the community at public meetings.
“We never said there would not be any obstruction of public views,” Delouri said, adding she would be willing to arrange to have university representatives revisit the group at a later date to answer their questions about the MESOM project.
MESOM stands for Marine Ecosystem Sensing, Observation and Modeling. The new three-story building will have 12 laboratories, 56 offices and three conference rooms, and will house a new multidisciplinary program at Scripps aimed at integrating the development of physical, biological and chemical sensors — and the autonomous ocean-going platforms to support them — to conduct long-term observation of the California Current Ecosystem.
LJSA will next meet Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. at cottage T-29 at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.