Effort for La Jolla cityhood proceeds

Funds needed for updated feasibility study

By Dave Schwab

Staff Writer

If La Jolla is to continue down the long, bumpy road to cityhood, $80,000 must be raised to ultimately place the measure on the ballot and to update a feasibility analysis.


“We need $40,000 right now just to do a new feasibility study because the one done in 2005 … things have changed — the value of money over time, the tax structure, TOT (Transient Occupancy Taxes) from the hotels are different,” said Cindy Greatrex, spokeswoman for Independent La Jolla, the nonprofit group spearheading the effort to make the community a city in its own right.

Since as far back as the 1940s, various local groups have tried intermittently to organize and explore the possibility of incorporating. During the last attempt in 2006, a fiscal analysis was done which showed a budget surplus of more than $5.2 million resulting from La Jolla becoming a city.

But that study showed La Jolla’s “secession” from San Diego would come at a price: $4.6 million a year in “alimony” — compensation payments to the city of San Diego for four to eight years after a new city of La Jolla is formed.

Greatrex said there’s good news on a couple of fronts related to revising the fiscal outlook.

“EPS, Economics and Planning Systems, the independent group who did the initial fiscal analysis, aren’t going to charge us any more than they did for the last one they did,” she said, adding that, though the new report would be a recalculation, it will not be a complete “reboot.”

Cityhood is a long, drawn-out process with literally a couple dozen steps literally taking years. The process began in June 2009 when Independent La Jolla began looking anew at alternatives and consulting with LAFCO. It could culminate with elections both in La Jolla and the city of San Diego, asking registered voters to sanction the proposed change.

Now treasurer of La Jolla Town Council, Greatrex said much progress has been made in the incorporation drive since she joined the council, which has provided a forum for her to provide community updates.

Town Council president Rick Wildman said the council is working in conjunction with Greatrex, subsequent to board approval, to host a town hall-style forum on incorporation this fall.

“The whole idea of the Town Council is to be a sort of clearinghouse for community opinions where people have a place to come and talk about their concerns,” said Wildman, adding he senses a growing public consensus over incorporatin. “The only people I’ve found against it are the people who said, ’It will never happen,’ ”

Securing the $80,000 to lay the groundwork for incorporation is just the first major hurdle, said Greatrex.

When that money is raised, Independent La Jolla will apply to be on the ballot, which, if successful, would require more funds.

“We (will) pay a fee of $2 per registered 92037 voter (just shy of $40,000),” Greatrex said. “Assuming we get the required 25 percent positive vote (in La Jolla), we push on to the San Diego vote.”

And that involves a mountain of paperwork.

“The good news is that much of it is already done,” said Greatrex.

Former Congresswoman Lynn Schenk, a La Jollan, feels the most important factor in the incorporation effort will prove to be commitment on the part of those involved.

She said she feels La Jolla has the right combination of ingredients to become its own municipality.

“We have a community of interests, a geographic area and we certainly have the tax base,” she said. “You need to have people that are concerned, working hard. It certainly won’t happen if people don’t get involved.”

It’s when La Jollans feel the time is right to take matters into their own hands, Schenk believes, that incorporation will become feasible.

“That is the point where it comes to the local issues — parking, traffic, the quality of life — when locals feel they can better manage those issues,” she said.

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