All invited to Thursday meeting
By Dave Schwab
Asked what any new Business Improvement District (BID) should do in representing the Village, merchant Clair Thelin answered: Promote La Jolla.
“The problem is we need the big hitters like the Grande Colonial Hotel on the board again because the little guys like me, a lot of them have just themselves to run their businesses,” said Thelin, owner of tourist souvenir store La Jolla Cove Gifts at 8008 Girard Ave. #120.
The 75-year-old Thelin is an active member of the community’s Streetscape and Beautification Committee and was involved with Promote La Jolla (PLJ), the community’s nonprofit organization that ran the business district until it ran into problems with financial matters.
He said he’ll be attending First District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner’s La Jolla BID workshop from 4 to 6 p.m. ono Oct. 21 at the La Jolla Rec Center.
But Thelin’s not sure, given his time and age constraints, how involved he’ll be with any future La Jolla BID.
Thelin talked about where he felt PLJ went awry.
“It was because of their parking (meter advocacy) that caused so many problems and split the community,” he said.
Deborah Marengo, one of five remaining PLJ board members, agreed with Thelin that the parking issue started the division in the community and said a “clean slate” is the most important thing — a remark echoed by others.
Under the state-authorized business district concept, merchants in a specific area pay a fee, based on the size and location of their business, to the city. Under normal circumstances, the city selects a group to coordinate activities like beautification and marketing while the city maintains the purse strings.
When the city council refused to renew Promote La Jolla as the contractor a year ago, activities came to a halt for a while until the city’s Office of Small Business took over running the district on an interim basis. Activities, from replacing hanging baskets to planning the annual Gallery & Wine Walk, have recently resumed with four former PLJ directors acting in an advisory role.
Now Lightner said she believes is time to find out what merchants think about the idea of the business district: Do they want a new one, do they want one at all, and are they willing to get involved to make it a success?
At the Oct. 13 meeting of the interim LJBID, attended by only a handful of merchants beyond the board, the councilwoman applauded the hard work of those who have worked to keep activities going, but said she felt it was important to have La Jolla’s business people hear how other groups run their districts.
“This is not an organizational meeting,” she said, countering objections from PLJ President and BID adviser Rick Wildman who said efforts were already in the works to start a new group.
He also questioned why the advisers, who he said have done a lot in the past year without a budget, were not consented about the town hall meeting.