By W. Patrick Edwards
President, Business Improvement District Council
For the past few months I have been actively working in Downtown La Jolla to assist in the reconstruction of an active and functioning business improvement district. Although I do not have a business in La Jolla, I represent 16 citywide business improvement districts and am the past president of the North Park Main Street BID.
When I opened my business over 40 years ago in North Park it was a sleepy and abandoned district. The streets were dirty and the storefronts were empty. In 1984 I organized the creation of a BID by walking around my business neighborhood and encouraging business owners to take back the streets. Now, 25 years later, I am proud to see North Park Main Street as representing a true renaissance in local arts culture, theatre, dining and shopping. It is a direct result of BID management by local business members.
La Jolla is fortunate that a BID currently exists, and that the assessments are being collected and managed properly by the city during this period of transition. However, the old Promote La Jolla organization is no longer active and the current BID advisory board does not properly represent the needs and desires of the BID members. It is now time for a new, nonprofit corporation to be established, consisting of active members of the La Jolla business community, to legally contract with the city for control of their future. If you are concerned about solving existing problems and making historic downtown La Jolla again the "jewel of the Pacific," then step forward and get involved.
As I walked the dusty streets of North Park so many years ago, talking with business after business about what we could do together to make our district successful, I realized that there were two general emotions which were common responses to my questions: apathy and passion. Too often I was greeted with apathy. "Nothing can be done. It is useless to try. I am just trying to run my business, why should I help others? Nothing will ever change."
It is depressing to me to even reflect on my experiences during that time, just trying to organize some form of positive action. What kept me going was the occasional passionate response: "I love North Park. I want to help make it better. You can count on me, what can I do?" By working together over the years, the passionate emotion won the day, and apathy died a quiet death.
This is the time for those who are passionate about living and working in La Jolla to step forward and take control of their destiny. For the city to contract with a new BID organization, there must be more people involved by the end of this year. Your community needs you to step up and get involved.
I am directing all the assets of the BID Council to work directly with Sherri Lightner to make it as easy as possible for this effort to succeed, now we need you to join us. If you have questions about this issue, please contact your council member, Sherri Lightner, directly at (619) 236-6611 or the BIDC office at (619) 239-2437.