Shoring up the Shores
by Adriane Tillman
Apr 27, 2006 | 1305 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ever burned a pallet at La Jolla Shores? Ever burned a pallet and drunk a beer past 10 p.m. at La Jolla Shores? All those actions are illegal under the city's poorly enforced municipal code, and the La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) is determined to do something about it.

Greater concerns face the Shores, however, such as vandalism, car break-ins and drag racing, plus disruptive late-night parties and loud music.

After LJSA sent a letter to the mayor, the city forces gathered, including the police department captains, the park and recreation director, lifeguard chiefs, city council representatives, fire and rescue heads and LJSA to discuss the problems.

"La Jolla has been exchanging information with the police department at an unprecedented level that helps us identify the real problems in that area," said San Diego police Lt. Brian Ahearn.

The diving community has also raised alarms over what it perceives as an organized effort aimed at divers, who often leave keys and expensive gear in their cars while in the water.

The San Diego Council of Divers posted an ad on a local diving Web site calling for victims to share their stories of theft. Between eight and 10 people responded about incidents that occurred at La Jolla Shores, often on Marine Street, according to Scott Henderson, president of the council of divers.

"A lot of the e-mails will say that they're really after the credit cards," Henderson said. "In some instances, they've left the money and the wallet and have just taken the credit cards."

After late-night drag racers tore up the grass at Kellogg Park on March 1, leaving graffiti on the bathroom and a trashcan demolished, LJSA determined that an entrance and exit gate is needed to shut down the parking lot after 10 p.m. The gates will cost approximately $5,500, which is affordable, but the city doubts it has the funds to pay an employee to lock the gate each evening.

As for burning illegal pallets, the city has replaced eight of the fire rings with rings that have "no pallets" stenciled on the sides and lifeguards have committed to spreading the word. Pallets are illegal because the wood is treated and full of nails, said Mary Coakley, chair of the La Jolla Shores Association Parks and Beaches Committee. Patrons will be ticketed for burning pallets, Coakley added.

Late-night bonfires should also get the rap, as fires are not allowed after 10 p.m., but the heart of the issue is whether the rules can be enforced. Two police officers patrol La Jolla and nine officers circulate through La Jolla Shores, Pacific Beach and South Mission Beach, depending on the need. One police officer patrols all of La Jolla, according to Coakley.

"It depends on availability," Coakley said. "We're hoping that we can get more regular enforcement to get the park closed."

LJSA also intends to set up a Neighborhood Watch group and hopes that the community will be more vigilant in reporting incidents so that police understand the full extent of the problem.

The spikes at the exit of the parking lot will not be replaced because they quickly erode from the salty air.

"The city had to pay for a lot of deflated tires because they weren't working properly," Coakley said.

The city needs to pay more attention to the 12.3 miles of shoreline parks in general, according to Coakley. Balboa Park receives $16 million and is supervised by six rangers, and Mission Bay Park receives $14 million and has four rangers, while the shoreline parks only get $5 million with no rangers, according to Coakley. Meanwhile, 50 percent of the tourists visit the beaches, she said.

Furthermore, various committees for Balboa Park, Mission Bay Park, Tecolote Canyon and River Park exist, but there is no committee for the shoreline parks, Coakley added.

Ted Medina, director of the City of San Diego's Park and Recreation Department, differed with Coakley's analysis.

Balboa and Mission Bay parks are huge and filled with very rich, diversified resources, unlike the 12.3 miles of shoreline that do not require the same intensity of maintenance, Medina said.

Mission Bay Park covers 42,035 acres, half of which is water. Balboa Park is 1,172 acres, filled with tremendous horticultural assets, cultural buildings, specimen trees and an entire road system, Medina said.

Along the linear beaches, sand is raked of kelp, trashcans are cleared, fire rings are serviced and hazardous materials removed from the beach, but the extent of the landscape and need for maintenance is not at the same as the other parks, Medina said.

"Most of it is an enforcement issue that the police department has to deal with," Medina said, adding that park rangers don't carry weapons and cannot arrest violators, anyway.

"Mary has perspective, and I'm a good friend of Mary's, but she's portraying something that I don't 100 percent agree with her "” that is that we do have what we think to be adequate resources to maintain our beaches," Medina said.

Vandalism and burglaries are not the whole story, however; the police department has also had success in apprehending criminals, Ahearn emphasized.

On April 12, police arrested four suspects within 10 minutes of two related thefts at gunpoint on Avenida de la Playa and Pearl Street, Ahearn said. Police were able to make the speedy arrest based on witness information. Ahern pointed out that it's only fair to report police success stories, as well as the crimes.
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