On the election campaign trail, Congressmember Scott Peters stopped by the Bird Rock Community Council (BRCC) meeting at La Jolla Masonic Lodge Oct. 4. Peters, a Democrat, is up for re-election Nov. 8 in the 52nd Congressional District, where he will face Republican Denise Gitsham. The meeting was held, by Peters’ memory, in the very room that once hosted meetings to hash out the Bird Rock Roundabouts, which started as a grassroots project, and were completed in 2008.
Joking that most people just ask him about presidential candidate Donald Trump, the former environmental attorney and San Diego City Councilmember answered questions about sea lions at The Cove, expected changes in Washington D.C. in the new few years, student loan issues and more. Peters also touted his accomplishments with improving services for veterans and environmental research.
“I’ve tried to take a bipartisan approach and get things done, even in this difficult environment in Congress,” he said, adding that he calls himself an “independent” Democrat, which Republicans love but “Democrats don’t like so much,” and that he has crossed his party when the solution was “in the middle.”
“I’m with the Democrats on choice, marriage equality and background checks for guns; but on tax policy, health care and financial regulations, we all need to work together to make it work,” he explained.
When asked if he could bend some ears on curtailing the increasing pinniped population at La Jolla Cove, Peters said, “This is a community that is very tied to the ocean and … some people at City Hall kick us around a little bit and don’t understand that (access to the ocean via places like The Cove) is part of our culture. I think the notion that we should not be active with respect to (removing) the sea lions is wrong.” He encouraged a “La Jolla-wide solution” everyone could agree upon to prompt change.
Peters was also asked whether communication and a sense of collaboration that has not been present during the Obama Administration is expected to get better after the November election.
“It has to,” he responded. “If you were betting, you’d bet on Secretary Hillary Clinton to be president. The House of Representatives will stay Republican, so Clinton would be the first Democrat since Grover Cleveland to take office without a majority in Congress. So, if she wants to do anything, she is going to need to talk to and work with Republicans. I know Paul Ryan has things he wants to get done (so he is going to have to work with her as well). Communication and working together is going to have to get better if anything is going to get done.”
One of Peters’ ideas addresses student loans. “The price of a public university education has gone up 300 percent since I was in school,” he said. “The average student is coming out of their undergrad education with $33,000 in debt. That has a huge drag on the economy, (these) people aren’t buying houses or starting families.
“(I propose) that if you work for a company and you have student loan payments, we would let your employer match your student loan payments up to $6,000 a year … so the company has an incentive that makes them more competitive.” He said he would also work to decrease the cost of tuition at California universities and colleges.
Peters concluded by applauding neighborhood advocacy. “Community leadership, like what you find here and what got the roundabouts installed, is really needed everywhere,” he said. “We rely on you to let us know if you have an idea or if we are missing something on the Federal level. We need to hear from you about what we’re missing because most great ideas don’t come from Washington, they come from groups and communities like this.”
In other BRCC news:
New benches? BRCC treasurer Barbara Dunbar said the board is considering adding, repairing or replacing public benches as needed. “We need a few more, so if you have an idea for a location, let us know. We need to know what the community wants,” she said. The board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dog droppings: Dunbar also reported several complaints of unleashed dogs and dog waste on sidewalks and private property. She cited the San Diego Municipal Code and reminded attendees that it reads: “No person shall allow a dog in his/her custody to defecate or to urinate on public property or any improved private property other than that of the owner or person having control of the dog. It shall be the duty of all persons having control of a dog to curb such dog in order to carry out the intent of this section. The failure to do so and to immediately remove any feces to a proper receptacle constitutes a violation of this section. Unsighted persons while relying on a guide dog shall be exempt from this section.”
Private security: La Jolla Safety, a subcommittee of BRCC, continues to explore a private security option, but is no longer considering National Private Security (NPS). Representatives from NPS presented several times in Bird Rock, but La Jolla Safety ultimately decided not to contract with them because, La Jolla Safety founder and BRCC trustee Ron Fineman said, “They were not a good fit.”
Fineman added that much of what Bird Rock experiences is considered “low priority crime” and out of reach to the understaffed San Diego Police Department. “We’re in the process of vetting private security companies that suit our needs,” he said. “We’re doing our best to keep costs down, and the more people who sign up, the lower the cost will be.” Those interested can visit lajollasafety.org
MAD meeting in November: The annual Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) meeting will follow the next BRCC meeting: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1 at Masonic Lodge, 5655 La Jolla Blvd. The MAD meeting will address projects and provide a status report on environmental, safety, maintenance, irrigation water conservation, aesthetics and landscape matters. birdrockcc.org