Influential and privately-funded Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial Association (VMA) got backing Monday afternoon from the volunteer citizens advisory group at La Jolla Parks and Beaches (LJP&B) to install an electrical easement at the City of San Diego’s 118-acre Mount Soledad Natural Park.
The motion, made by LJP&B members Dan Allen and seconded by John Beaver, passed 9 to 3. An earlier motion to deny the VMA’s request to install lighting failed 10 to 3. A representative of the Sierra Club was among those who spoke against electrification, citing light pollution and negative effects on celestial observation.
At the meeting there was a shift in the VMA’s previous line which a month earlier had been about
lighting the American flag at the summit 24/7 as opposed to raising and lowering it by hand daily. VMA spokesman Bill Kellogg, owner of the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, indicated yesterday that his VMA organization was asking officially only for an electrical easement in order to conform with lighting safety rules set by the United States Navy which “owns the site” and with whom the VMA has a memorandum of understanding. Kellogg insisted no specific lighting plan was on the table and that his group is merely following orders.
Kellogg’s assertion seemed to undercut the validity of a night-time lighting “test” that was conducted on short notice last week for VMA and LJP&B members. The pro bono contractor at the “test” revealed that 78 lights were being planned for flag, plaques and stairways surrounding the entire Memorial, a significant increase in the amount of electrification.
The Memorial occupies the highest point on half an acre and is topped by a controversial Christian Cross. The cross has been litigated for more than 20 years and was declared unconstitutional last year. Negotiations are ongoing in Washington, D.C. now about disposition of the cross since the Supreme Court has refused to re-hear the case. According to the Los Angeles Times, Kellogg’s VMA has not been included in those talks.