By Ashley Mackin
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman stopped by La Jolla Rec Center June 16 for a Meet the Mayor event, and, thanks to the standing-room-only crowd, heard a litany of issues important to City Council District 1.
Questions posed by La Jollans included crumbling streets, unfunded community projects and the state of Children’s Pool.
For issues Faulconer said he was not aware of, his staff members took notes for review and collected names and phone numbers for follow-up.
“What makes our city great are its neighborhoods, and La Jolla is one of the most special and unique neighborhoods we have,” he said. “My job is to help you keep that character, keep what’s special about it special, and work with you as we get through these challenges, hopefully, in a manner that utilizes common sense. And never forgetting that it is our privilege to be in the job that you have entrusted us with, as we take that to heart every single day.”
Regarding street and pothole repairs, the mayor provided an update on the efforts his office is making.
"There is a whole lot more money (in the recently-approved budget) for street repair and street resurfacing,” he said, and that includes money for street lighting. He said city crews are working with a more efficient system for pothole repair. The previous policy involved creating a list of pothole locations, and addressing them in order.
“We might fix a pothole on Prospect Street, but the next one on the list might be in Clairemont, the next one might be in Encanto. You’d spend a lot of time driving around the city to get it done,” he said. “We changed that so we would send people to the same area in a day and not necessarily go in order of what’s on the list, but fix (potholes) crews observe driving by.”
Additionally, he said his office is close to implementing a “one dig” policy. “It will require all of our utilities to submit notice when they know they are going to be doing work. So if something is going to come up (on the same street) nine months later or a year later, wait, and do it all at once. The worst thing is to have a freshly laid street and for the city to come and dig it up again. Emergencies will happen from time to time, but we have to do better planning up front. We want our streets to last, we don’t want them cut up.”
La Jollans Ann Dynes, Mary Coakley- Munk and Phyllis Minick — each working on a community improvement project — took the opportunity to inform the mayor of the projects and city-related financial struggles they face.
Dynes, head of the Whale View Point committee, explained she was told funds for her project — which would improve coastline park areas such as the Wedding Bowl and the People’s Wall and improve sidewalks — would go to “needier communities than La Jolla.”
“I’m wondering how we can make sure we get a fair share of the pie,” she asked.
Faulconer assured her he would look into available funds.
Coakley-Munk and Friends of La Jolla Shores, who are replacing the north comfort station at Kellogg Park, were told in January they would have to pay prevailing wage on the $500,000 project, which was privately funded by the family of the late John Watson. Furthermore, contractors volunteered their time to ensure the project is completed on budget. Paying prevailing wage adds $80,000 to the project, for which Coakley- Munk asked for the mayor’s help.
“This is not the first project affected by prevailing wage. The reality is it’s impacting a lot of projects. I wish it wouldn’t,” Faulconer said, adding that he would discuss the matter with the city attorney’s office. “If there is any way I can help on that issue, you can count on it.”
Minick, spearheading the Children’s Pool Walk beautification project, said city fees are becoming “over the top.”
“Of the ($250,000) I and others have raised for Children’s Pool Walk, $25,000 of that has gone to permits and assessments and another $60,000 is requested,” she said. “Certainly everyone who works on these projects deserves full payment, but amounts are excessive. I hope you’ll help us out.” Faulconer said he would look into it.
Joking that he’s heard “something about” opening up Children’s Pool to swimmers, Faulconer listened as Melinda Merryweather described the situation.
“Over the last 12 or 13 years, this community has tried to get Children’s Pool back in the hands of children. This pool was given to us by Ellen Browning Scripps, so children would have a safe place to swim,” she said, to enthusiastic applause. “One of the things we’d love to see happen is to have the maintenance done on Children’s Pool and open the sluiceways, which means nothing more than cutting a hole in the wall to let the water flow.”
Similarly, Cheri Aspenlieter requested the mayor consider adding an ADA-compliant ramp to the water’s edge, and announced she has a petition on Change.org to install such. The online petition currently has more than 350 signatures.
Chief Zimmerman addressed citywide concerns of medical marijuana dispensaries and drug use in San Diego, as well as bike law enforcement.
She said police welcome calls and will “follow up on any of them.” Those who would like to remain anonymous are encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.
Faulconer’s office can be reached at (619) 236-6330 or