By Michael Winn
A real estate speculator has proposed to replace a single family home on Kellogg Street in La Playa with a concrete sea wall and 9 condominiums, where there is now a beach.
How can the community assess this proposed development without consensus about the fate of this beach? Colloquially called, Kellogg Beach it’s actually the last remaining part of the beach for which this community was originally named, La Playa, perhaps, in the 17th century.
La Playa (translated: the beach) is one of just four places shown on an 1851 U.S. survey of San Diego Bay. Other places are Ballast Point, [Old Town] San Diego and “New San Diego”. A trail is shown on the 1851 chart that connects these places. Today, my Google navigation shows “La Playa” across the Peninsula (not Pt. Loma).
My neighbor in Tunaville tells me his ancestors beached their fishing boats at La Playa in 1915. A 1950 aerial image of La Playa, before the sandbar was connected to develop Shelter Island, shows a hundred boats moored off a beach, extending from [Shelter Island Drive] to Ballast Point.
Following constructions by the U.S. Navy on the western end of La Playa, the remaining part of the beach, from which the area takes its name, began to quickly erode. Rising sea levels guaranty that, unless we take action to prevent it, there will be no beach in La Playa–Unless we take steps to restore and preserve Kellogg beach now, the current real estate speculator’s proposal eliminates the possibility.
If loss of this valuable and important topographic feature was intentional, I’d feel differently. I don’t lament the absence of the sand bar now called, “Shelter Island”, because I feel this trade-off was conscious and intentional and still provided shelter for boats and beaches. (Albeit I so lament the loss of habitat for aquatic species.)
Erosion of the last remaining beach of La Playa was not intentional: It was the unintended result, when Point Loma Naval Command altered tidal currents by building a rock jetty to protect the Scripps/Spawar docks, coincidentally changing hydraulic dynamics in the bay protected by Shelter Island.
The beaches that gave La Playa its name and prominence were inherited. We have a choice to pass this inheritance on to our grand children. If we don’t, this community will bear the resulting weight of ultra-high-density development, examples of which we needn’t look far to see.
Communities are empowered by state laws to draw the line—to choose urban developments that nurture and serve our families, especially regarding coastal access. But the economics of speculative real estate development make it necessary for communities to be proactive about this or lose their heritage.
Restoration of our public beaches is less difficult than building Shelter Island or the new fuel import docks the Navy recently developed east of the submarine base.
San Diego Bay beaches are the political responsibility of the San Diego Unified Port Commission, which is appointed by our Mayor and City Council members of San Diego and other S.D. Bay cities.
The Navy has previously restored beaches, where its construction and/or operations caused environmental damage, for example, at Los Alamitos, (Seal Beach and Surfside, CA) and the San Diego Port has also been obligated to restore and preserve environmental features in the bay.
Michael Winn is a scholar, composer, writer and filmmaker who resides in Tunaville. He claims to be an ardent kayaker in San Diego Bay, where during the last four years, he’s paddled from Bessemer to the end of the point, and is a keen observer of local natural and human phenomena in the bay.