The long-awaited restroom at Scripps Park Pavilion in La Jolla had a soft opening on January 21 when the fence fell and the water turned on. But by the end of the weekend, a list of issues had been created based on user feedback.
The project, which was introduced in January 2014, is a replacement “comfort station” in Ellen Browning Scripps Park adjacent to La Jolla Cove. The project demolished the old toilet block and added a new facility including more toilets, unisex toilet cubicles, showers, changing rooms, storage space and more.
Among the issues reported at the January 24 meeting of the La Jolla Parks & Beaches Board of Directors:
• The interior of at least one locker room could be seen from the street from certain angles.
• Shower overflow issues created a muddy area in front of the facility.
• Each bathroom stall only holds two rolls of toilet paper at a time.
• The bin storage area is undersized.
• The landscaping is already trampled.
• Black plumbing pipes are exposed.
“It looks nice and awesome and it takes time for the city, but there were a lot of users that first weekend,” said new La Jolla Parks & Beaches President Bob Evans. “Opening it was priority 1 for the project team, and now they see that there are design and functionality flaws that still need to be fixed. … I’m confident they will continue to listen and that they will be about to get it right.
After talking to users and other key interests, Evans said he’s “compiled a good list of issues” to take to San Diego city officials, but he wants to set up an on-site meeting to review. depth the installation and collect additional feedback to share with the group project.
Steve Hadley, representing the office of Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, told the Enhancer La Jolla board of directors at its Jan. 20 meeting that the lodge was opening quietly rather than in fanfare because “we’re going to let people use it and see if the plumbing and the showers and everything work when we put a full load of people through there. Then we’ll celebrate the opening.
The conceptual design was completed by Safdie Rabines Architects and funded by private donations before plans were handed over to the city for execution. Construction was originally slated for the first part of 2019 for a summer 2021 opening, but an unexpected redesign of some features pushed the date back, according to project officials.
Construction issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic also caused a delay. Project updates were given regularly at LJP&B meetings.
LJP&B board member and swimmer John Shannon said he joined the board because of his interest in the project. He blamed the problems on the city’s policy of using “lowest bids” on construction projects.
“So much work has gone into this…and I’m aware of the issues and it pains me to see them,” he said. “But if it works for people and it looks good, then that’s fine with me.”
Judy Adams Halter, La Jolla resident and former LJP&B member, has led the project since 2018. “She was the mother, the overseer, and the one who brought in these incredible architects who did this design work,” said said Phyllis Minick, board member.
Adams Halter said after the reunion that she was “really excited that it’s finally open” and that she hopes “some of the little issues” will be resolved in the coming months.
“It’s really sad that it took so long, but I’m really happy with the result and would love to see the city use this experience to figure out how to streamline other projects,” she said. “There is room for growth. I’m just grateful it’s done.
She added that if community leaders had had the opportunity to see the project being built, they might have spotted some of the issues before the facility opened.
But overall, Adams Halter said, “I like the way she looks. I love contemporary art and think it’s a structure that will hold up and be compelling for at least 50 years. It’s different, but this is California and we have to be ahead of the curve. ◆