By Dave Schwab
The transition from the all-but-defunct Promote La Jolla (PLJ) to the new La Jolla Village Merchants Association has left some La Jolla advisory groups like the Streetscape Committee in limbo: functioning, yet deficient in funding with questions surrounding their membership.
Joe LaCava, chair of the La Jolla Community Planning Association — the community’s advisory group for land use, said he will ask the board tonight to take action to allow the PLJ appointees to serve out their terms. He also intends to seek a change in the language from specifying PLJ members be appointed to the more generic ”manager of the La Jolla Business Improvement District (LJBID).”
“Those subcommittees have historically had dedicated seats for businessowners,” he noted. “It’s very important to keep that business perspective. Hopefully, when the new group gets formed and organized, we will work with them to make sure they make the appointments to those dedicated seats.”
“It’s really up to the individual groups on how rigidly they interpret their bylaws,” said LaCava on what the various La Jolla committees may need to do in accommodating representation from the newly forming La Jolla merchants group.
On particular group already is trying to deal with this issue — the Streetscape Committee, which is a joint committee of the La Jolla Town Council and Promote La Jolla.
Previous committee chair Glen Rasmussen — who represented PLJ and the interim LJBID’s appointed advisory board — has stepped down, and Egon Kafka has been serving as interim board chair.
But the “legitimacy” of both Rasmussen and Kafka to serve on the Streetscape board, let alone lead it, has been challenged by La Jolla Town Council President Rick Wildman.
Wildman cites a 1992 agreement with the city that established the committee that states “In the event PLJ no longer provides administrative services as the administrator of the La Jolla Business Improvement District then the City and Town Council will determine the process for future improvement installations.”
“He (Kafka) declared himself to be head of it (Streetscape) but he was not appointed,” Wildman said. “PLJ appointments expired June 30, 2009, with the end of PLJ’s BID contract (with the city). There is no provision for anybody to replace PLJ. The Town Council controls Streetscape, and since Egon (Kafka) was not appointed by the town council, he is not on Streetscape and neither is Glen (Rasmussen).”
Rasmussen said a busy work schedule caused him to cut back his participation in Streetscape. Kafka said he willingly stepped forward to fill a void on the group to hold things together until the transition from Promote La Jolla to the Village Merchants Association is complete.
“Our resources are limited but not infinitesimal,” Kafka said, noting the objective has been for the group to continue to look “at the big picture” in considering what future projects to tackle that are not city services.
Subjects discussed informally by Streetscape committee volunteers for future action include locations for news rack kiosks and additional city trashcans, maintenance/ replacement of trees in tree wells, replacing street lights, improving pedestrian crosswalk and parking space markings, fixing potholes and bench issues.
Esther Viti, who has served on the Streetscape Committee and heads up the Nell Carpenter Beautification Committee (a Town Council committee) has taken a different tack in reacting to PLJ’s departure from the committee.
“PLJ doesn’t exist anymore so technically speaking there isn’t a Streetscape Committee,” she said. “I’m not divorcing myself from Streetscape, but I’m not a businessowner — I’m a volunteer.”
Viti said she intends to hold her community cleanups more often than once a month, and is now personally assuming control for beautification items like ashcans — the latter being something Kafka also is working on, much to Viti's dismay.