La Jolla's councilwoman digging into pothole issue

Zeke Woolley measures the pothole on Torrey Pines road that ruined two of his tires. Photo: Courtesy
Zeke Woolley measures the pothole on Torrey Pines road that ruined two of his tires. Photo: Courtesy

By Kathy Day

Staff Writer

First District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner doesn’t mince words when it comes to La Jolla’s potholes — or those in the rest of the city.

And she’s not afraid to report them herself when she sees them and is making plans to schedule a “pothole event” in La Jolla where work will be concentrated on filling potholes on major thoroughfares.

In fact, her spokeswoman Erin Demorest reported via e-mail on Monday that of the 33 potholes reported to their office in recent weeks, several were reported by Lightner and her staff. Sixteen of those have been filled; as of Monday, 17 had not been.

In addition Lightner took the 65 photos and e-mails sent to the Light in the past few weeks and is working with the city’s Streets Division to figure out which have been reported to the city’s hotline and which need to be submitted, Demorest said.

She stressed the importance of people calling the city as soon as they spot a pothole or sidewalk problem at (619) 527-7500 or filing a request at

  1. The can also call Lightner’s office so they can report them and track the status, she added.

“I can’t visualize them; I can’t divine them,” Lightner said at last week’s La Jolla Town Council meeting, where she revealed why residents may have noticed a lag in getting response to calls. “Don’t assume someone else has reported them.”

“After years of deferred maintenance, our city streets are in poor condition,” she said. “We noticed in March that they were not filling them as fast.”

When she asked city staff about it she said she learned that three of the four trucks servicing the northern part of the city had been out of service for nearly a month.

But by the time she found out, the trucks were up and running again, Demorest reported.

“Sherri was very concerned about the fact that the trucks were down and that our office was not notified, as we did not have an opportunity to work to find an interim solution,” she added.

Normally, she said, the turnaround is 10 to 14 days.

In her efforts to speed things up, the councilwoman is working with the mayor’s office and street division to get caught up on the backlog, her aide said.

Later in the meeting, Phil Coller, the new president of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association, also encouraged reporting problems, “If everyone phones, it gets on a list and the list gets massively huge. … Imagine if it was 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 long …”

Several people noted that when they have called, the streets division has normally been very quick to respond.

After Lightner’s April 14 comments, the Town Council considered and approved a motion to form a “pothole relief committee,” despite one trustee’s objection.

Egon Kafka, who drew praise from the councilwoman for his efforts to get streetlights fixed in the Village as well as get sidewalks and potholes fixed, said he felt the Streetscape Committee was already addressing the matter.

“It’s ridiculous to have one more committee,” he said.

Joe LaCava, who recently stepped down as chair of the La Jolla Community Planning Association, countered Kafka, calling the pothole committee “a terrific idea.”

He noted that the Streetscape group only concentrates on the Village and that Bird Rock and La Jolla Shores have potholes too. In fact, he added, 92037 encompasses an area that extends to Gilman Drive.

“Someone needs to report them,” he said. “Someone dedicated to it would be great.”

Only half jokingly, Town Council president Rick Wildman suggested painting all of the potholes red to alert people to their presence.

And Zeke Woolley, who has had three tires ruined in recent weeks from potholes, added. “Maybe La Jolla can be the loudest voice.”

In other action:

•Sherri Lightner swore in seven newly elect trustees as well s those appointed in recent months. New officers are Rick Wilman, who continues are president; Rob Hildt, first vice president; John Weinstein second vice president; Debbie Dorsee, secretary, and Cindy Greatrx, chief financial officer.

• Heard from John Weil, aide to County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, who has been looking into the reports of low-flying helicopters disturbing coastal residents. He said he learned from officials at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar that its aircraft do not fly along the La Jolla coastline but rather follow a flight pattern over the Del Mar fairgrounds. He is awaiting additional information from other agencies.

• Learned that the Independent La Jolla effort on the short-list of contestants in a competition sponsored by the Boston-based Pioneer Institute that is look at efforts to find better governance models.



Be relevant, respectful, honest, discreet and responsible. Commenting Rules