LJCPA doesn’t seal deal on community plan amendments and other LJCPA news
by Mariko Lamb
May 10, 2013 | 3307 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dozens of advocates on both sides of the seal debate appeared at the La Jolla Community Planning Association’s May 2 meeting to voice their opinions regarding the city’s proposal to amend the La Jolla Community Plan to designate the harbor seal rookery at Children’s Pool as an environmentally sensitive habitat area (ESHA) and to align access policies of the community plan to suit that designation.

The proposed amendments call for the modification of community plan policies to prohibit access to the ESHA annually from Dec. 15 to May 15 during harbor seal pupping season. The modifications also call for the installation of two signs and a chain barrier stating that it is unlawful for any person to be on the beach during that time.

A community plan amendment is required to implement the seasonal access restrictions.

“We can’t adopt the ordinance without amending the plan,” said Chris Zirkle, deputy director of Park & Recreation Department’s Open Space division. “We believe the ESHA designation is the best way to justify the access restrictions.”

According to the Coastal Act, designation of an ESHA requires passage of a two-pronged test. First, the resource must be rare or especially valuable; and second, it must be easily disturbed or degraded by human activities.

“Designation of marine mammal haul-outs up and down the coast is common and it extends to haul-outs, not just rookeries like we have at the Children’s Pool, which is typically considered to be more sensitive than a haul-out,” said Zirkle. “What we’re proposing is consistent with what other jurisdictions have up and down the coast.”

According to the proposed plan amendments, access would be limited to the top of the lower staircase that descends to the beach.

Some trustees were resigned to the fact that the seals have taken over the beach, the city and state policies have been set and the community plan should reflect those policies. Others were apprehensive to change the language in the community plan so quickly, saying it would set precedent for the city’s prompt imposition on future changes to the document.

“The only thing we have is our laws and our rules, and we shouldn’t change them for this and that, so the real issue is that we shouldn’t change the community plan,” said trustee David Little.

Other trustees agreed.

“There are a lot of other changes that need to be made to it. I think the work and effort put into it by prior community groups is just so considerable that trying to change it in a vote tonight would be a mistake,” said trustee Tom Brady.

Trustee Ray Weiss said he was reminded how long it takes the city to respond to LJCPA’s requests for changes or further information about its community plan, but he reasoned the policies have already been decided.

“We have something already happening,” he said. “It has happened in the state legislature. The Coastal Commission has spoken. The city said they wanted to bring this all into line with something that is already decided. People in this room, as passionate as they are about the subject, ought to be realistic about that.”

Weiss, along with trustees Joe LaCava and Fran Zimmerman, issued pleas for peace at the Children’s Pool at last, regardless of which side of the seawall one stands.

“I’m tired of this. I’m tired of the conversation. The dominoes have been falling for quite some time, and it’s time for us to move on,” said LaCava. “The seals have taken over. They’ve colonized it. They own it. We’re never going to clean that up the way people have said. What’s happening out there in the ocean is going to happen whether we close the beach or not. I think it’s time for us to push the city to protect the rest of our beaches.”

He said he hopes those who promote the rookery would be willing to help protect the rest of La Jolla’s beaches from colonization in the future. On the issue of the Children’s Pool, however, “Enough is enough. It is time to move on,” he said.

“It is past time for the vitriol and the viciousness,” said Zimmerman. “We have got issues here that transcend the arguments that have been made. We need to come together and start to deal with some of the real issues.”

Trustees motioned to table the discussion until the community association’s next meeting in June, where a final decision on the community plan amendments will be made.

The LJCPA did vote to reject the city’s findings for a draft negative declaration, which stated the Children’s Pool beach closure would not cause significant impacts on the environment. They requested that the city prepare an environmental impact report to assess the impact and recommended the city extend its deadline for comments on the negative declaration until after the LJCPA’s next meeting to give the group time to gather input and craft an official response.

City news:

• The city’s budget hearings for fiscal year 2014 are currently undergoing review by the City Council. Mayor Bob Filner’s budget proposal includes more funds allocated for tree trimming, new computers at the branch libraries, community plan updates, additional cadets for the next police academy, lifeguard positions and a cliff-rescue vehicle, and arts and culture funding. Each council district has until May 31 to submit individual budget priority memos. Any District 1 constituent with input for priorities should contact City Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner’s office. The proposed budget is available at www.sandiego.gov.

• The oversized vehicle ordinance will be subject to review by the city council in the coming months.

• To take part in a city-initiated code enforcement volunteer program, call (619) 533-6145 and ask for William Dauphin. The program is slated to begin at the end of May.

LJCPA news:

• Trustee David Little cited a letter from the city that stated the LJCPA is not required per council policies, bylaws or administrative guidelines to take a vote in order for the president to file an appeal on a project.

“In other words, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot every time we take a vote to appeal over and over on an item we’ve already heard and rejected,” he said. “Next year when the bylaw [revisions] come up, I want people to remember that the city said we’re not required to do that.”

Neighborhood news:

• The Historic Resources Board will review the proposal for local historic designation of La Jolla’s Wall Street post office at its next meeting on May 23 at 1 p.m.

• The scaffolding on the La Jolla Shores lifeguard tower has come down and the lifeguards will move in shortly. An asbestos review needs to be conducted on the old, condemned tower before it can be demolished.

• The building inspector for the 705 Nautilus St. project confirmed that the home is, in fact, below the 30-foot height limit and is in compliance with the permits. The property is zoned to allow for a rental unit, but it does not have sufficient off-street parking to accommodate one. Once the city’s Development Services Department made contact with the owners informing them they could not have a rental unit, the ad for a rental unit was taken down. LJCPA President Tony Crisafi will review the city’s surveys and height-limit drawings and report back to the community group at an upcoming meeting.

• Although the Children’s Pool lifeguard station already received community approval, trustees urged the project architects to explore a lighter color palette for the station’s exterior façades to comply with the La Jolla Community Plan. A live webpage for the project is available at www.sandiego.gov/cip/projectinfo/featuredprojects/lajollacpls.shtml and construction is slated to begin this June.

Visin project gets stuck in history

Conflicting historic reports by the city’s Historic Resources Board (HRB) and the La Jolla Historical Society put the Visin Duplex project on hold at the Development Permit Review (DPR) committee until both parties could return to the joint committee with backup material to support their respective arguments.

While the HRB denied historic designation of the project, citing that too many irreversible changes were made to the building to deem it historic, the local historical society reported the changes made were not fatal and the site should, in fact, be designated as historic.

DPR member and LJCPA trustee Phil Merten said the applicant agreed to return to the DPR with supporting documents, so he was surprised when the applicant went directly to the city for the coastal development permit.

“That seemed to be a reasonable approach and the applicant agreed to that strategy. I was shocked to find out that someone then on behalf of the applicant backed out of that and went downtown and got a permit,” he said. “My sense is that it ought to be deemed historic, but I don’t have all the facts yet.”

LJCPA trustees voted to appeal the decision in order to give the community the opportunity to review all the supporting documents on the project and its historic elements.

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