By Dave Schwab
The Parks & Beaches Subcommittee voted 6-2 last week to seek 501(c)(3) nonprofit status when it detaches from La Jolla Town Council.
For the past several months, the advisory group has been working with the city Park & Recreation Department to lay the groundwork to get a special-use permit to manage many of La Jolla’s coastal parks, excluding the La Jolla Rec Center and those in La Jolla Shores.
About a year ago the city informed the town council that membership-dues driven organizations like it are no longer allowed to manage public parks. The city told the council its park’s subcommittee would need to reconstitute with a different organizational structure in order to continue park management.
Whether or not that new organizational structure should be in a form able to handle money has became a bone of contention among Parks & Beaches Subcommittee members.
Subcommittee member Jack Holzman maintains seeking nonprofit status is unnecessary and frought with peril.
“Bringing money of some significance into an all-volunteer group like this will change the nature of this committee,” he warned. “We’d be opening ourselves to a great deal of work and trouble, and we haven’t even formed an organization yet. We should stick to what we’re supposed to do: advise the city.”
“The city has no money to help us,” disagreed subcommittee member Sally Miller. “We can fundraise (with nonprofit status). It’s very important to be able to fundraise.”
Concurring with Holzman, colleague Carl Lind said, “Making this change (to nonprofit) you’re talking about a huge undertaking with unforeseen complications. Maintaining the status quo is a lot easier and a lot less trouble.”
Subcommitter members Patrick Ahern and Joe LaCava sided with the majority on the nonprofit issue.
“The city is encouraging us to become a nonprofit,” said Ahern. “It might encourage more donations. We could also expand our functions by starting to do more.”
“This will help our organization grow up,” said LaCava. “Hopefully we’ll now be able to speak directly to the city.”
In an e-mail, City Park and Recreation Director Stacey LoMedico said staff has been working with La Jolla Town Council’s Parks & Beaches Subcommittee on the process required for it to be recognized as an advisory committee, noting “becoming a tax-exempt organization is an important first step in this process and we will continue to work with the group as they move forward.”
In other matters, the subcommittee voted 6-1-1 to a approve a proposal by La Jolla Historical Society to host the La Jolla Motor Car Classic in Scripps Park on April 3, 2011. But the subcommittee opposed the Society's suggestion that sidewalks in Scripps Park be used to convey antique autos to a VIP section, noting new use guidelines for the park call for 6-foot setbacks to be observed along all park pathways.