Parks and Beaches look to end new commercial events at Scripps Park
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 01/27/18 - 03:18 PM | 1230 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A motion to impose a moratorium on new commercial events at Scripps Park was defeated at La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Inc.’s January meeting following a lengthy debate on the touchy subject.

The community parks board also voted in favor of final materials to be used in the exterior design of E.B Scripps Park Park Pavilion/Comfort Station, after a powerpoint presentation from the city and architects. 

Following extensive debate on the pros and cons of various building materials to be used, the group voted near-unanimously, with board member Bill Robbins dissenting, in favor of using proposed wood, cobblestone, and stainless steel treatments.

Some local residents and community planners have long opposed commercial use of Scripps Park, particularly by for-profit groups benefiting financially from park use. 

Conversely, Scripps is one of the few areas in town large enough to stage signature community events. The historic public park has been used for years by La Jolla Kiwanis Club for its Half Marathon, and the Tour D’elegance classic car show, both in the spring. Summer concerts on Scripps expansive lawn were held for years on Sunday afternoons. Due to lack of funding, the summer concert series was discontinued after 2016.

Reading from LJPB’s bylaws, board member Debbie Beacham said, “Our primary purpose is to preserve, protect and enhance La Jolla’s parks and beaches. It’s our job to protect the park from the public. Every single month it seems like we have a new race, or someone new wanting to benefit commercially from using the park.”

Beacham proposed instituting a moratorium on new events in the park until “we’ve had a chance to really vet this out with a lot more community input.”

“I’m concerned that if we don’t act (sanction a moratorium) that we will not be being good stewards of the park, that we wouldn’t be doing our jobs,” said board member John Shannon.

“We’ve been talking about this same issue since 1999,” said longtime LJPB board member Sally Miller. “Let’s get something done now.”

Longtime park planner Melinda Merryweather, who has long favored tougher restrictions on commercial park use, pointed out most of Scripps Park is offshore underwater. 

“The little park we have there is actually less than two acres,” Merryweather said. “Wanting to keep this teeny two acres for the people I don’t think is very much to ask for.”

Board member Tom Brady said he felt uncomfortable voting in favor of a moratorium without more information and input. After overwhelming voting down the moratorium proposal, group chair Ann Dynes suggested Beacham return in February with more information for further group consideration and a possible revote.

The La Jolla Cove Pavilion is a long-term project to replace outdated and deteriorating restroom-shower facilities with an attractive, sustainable pavilion honoring the beauty of the Cove and Scripps Park.

Previously, LJPB expressed concern about the Pavilion project needing to be “right-sized” — large enough to accommodate all users including swimmers and divers, but small enough to maximize ocean views obscured by existing restroom facilities.

Much of the discussion at the Jan. 22 LJPB meeting centered around the appropriateness of using wood and cobblestone in the comfort station’s design. Board member Robbins said horizontal cobblestone was a bad idea because it’s hard to clean. 

Others questioned the viability of using wood in comfort station design. Architects answered that the species of wood to be used is from Alaska. They said Alaskan wood has proven to be highly resilient to weathering.

The group consensus was that cobblestone could and should be used as a vertical accent, but that it was a poor choice for floors, under sinks or on horizontal surfaces, as proposed, because of the difficulty in cleaning it.

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