By Light staff
Perhaps the recent dustup over the Clean News advertisement criticizing the operation of the La Jolla Business Improvement District is a good thing. All the back and forth seems to have sparked discussions about what can be done to get an organization that works for the merchants moving again.
Since Promote La Jolla's near demise as the result of the city audit - the ultimate results of which are still hung up in negotiations in the city attorney's office - merchants have been left pretty much without a voice, partly by their own doing. (PLJ, which lost its contract to operate the business district, is a shell of its former self, without funds to pay bills or plan events or even hold elections.)
For a time, the city suspended collection of fees for the Village business district, but since they city started collecting again, not much has happened. On top of that, the interim solution with the district being run by the city's Office of Small Business has had problems getting out of the gates for a variety of reasons.
With an advisory board of four people who are members of the Promote La Jolla executive committee as "consultants" on what projects should move forward, the input is limited and logistics difficult. And with few merchants showing up at meetings any more, the four are left to decide what their "constituents" want without much input.
Perhaps that's because the merchants want nothing to do with PLJ, even though the few remaining board members keep trying to hold it together.
Now there's a movement afoot to form a new nonprofit, using the La Jolla BID as its name. Rick Wildman, president of the Town Council and PLJ and one of the four advisers to the city, has filed an application with the state for the organization; now it just needs leaders willing to put together the structure together and follow through on the application.
After that, the next step in the spring would be to apply to the city for the contract to run the business district. To get that done in time, someone will have to step up fairly quickly.
We've heard an undercurrent of support for the idea. As one person said during the past weeks, "We need to all work together for the benefit of the La Jolla community that we love and want to see maintained and improved."
The city staff and Councilwoman Sherri Lightner want the business district to be run locally - not by the staffers who have no real knowledge of La Jolla's needs.
We understand the time constraints of running a business. Even so, those involved with retail establishments, restaurants and hotels are the ones whose livelihoods are influenced by what locals and tourists spend, so these are the people who need to step forward. Their knowledge is what it will take to get the business district back on track.