La Jolla Merchants sputter forward without executive director

Transitions from one administration to the next have gone smoother than they did at the first La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA) meeting post-Sheila Fortune. (Fortune served as the Business Improvement District group’s executive director from May 2012 until she resigned this June.)

At the Aug. 8 meeting in the Riford Library, all action items had to be tabled until the next meeting to avoid violating the Brown Act on the grounds of improper public noticing.

“I was informed that just because I posted the agenda on the website and in a public place, that was not enough — an e-blast was also required to go out,” said LJVMA president Alisha Hawrylyszyn Frank, adding that “I’m trying my best.”

The omission thwarted the swearing-in of new directors, along with Everett Stunz owner Phillip Coller’s hope for a letter of support for night work only to take place on the Torrey Pines Road Slope Stabilization construction project, which restarts after Labor Day. (Instead, Frank promised to put the item on the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board agenda for Aug. 15.)

Budget-budging

Also at the meeting, LJVMA treasurer Brett Murphy announced that income was “slightly down” but “what’s good about that is we’re doing some things to reduce expenses.”

Specifically, he said, LJVMA was still getting the money — approximately $7,000 per month, as reported previously by the Light — that the City would spend for an executive director, until the board finds one. “That money doesn’t disappear; we still get that money,” Murphy said.

Also, he announced, the City is allowing LJVMA to pass a budget update once it hires a new executive director.

“This is great news,” Frank said. “They’re usually not that flexible, but they’re throwing us a bone.” (Board member Krista Baroudi cautioned, however, that there is only 20 percent wiggle room on the budget update, or else the budget may have to be voted on again.)

Executive downsizing

Frank announced changes to the executive director position that suggest it might come with a lower salary than before.

“I feel that the executive director position, prior to this, was overwhelming with tasks that should not have been the responsibility of that individual,” she said. “So I’ve made it more of a clerical job ... (with) a little bit more responsibility — or a lot, maybe — on the executive board, which is in charge of going to other meetings and events.”

In June, Fortune publicly resigned as executive director, stating that she would stay in the post until Oct. 10. That didn’t happen — although she appeared in the audience of 20 people for the Aug. 8 meeting, alongside fellow La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking (CAP) Board appointee Deborah Marengo, to discuss with Frank and Murphy how to handle the checks still coming to the LJVMA to pay for a CAP discount-parking program Fortune oversees.

“I need some coordination with whomever on the LJVMA board is going to handle it, so that when we’re handing out passes every month, we know that individuals or businesses who purchase the parking passes have actually paid for them,” Marengo said, adding that the CAP committee “voted unanimously to keep Sheila on” as the administrator of its parking program.

“I can’t really speak to that,” Murphy replied, explaining that he’s still not up to speed on the program. “We’re not really doing anything to change it.”

“You can’t,” Marengo shot back, “because it’s governed by three community boards.”

Also at LJVMA...

  • Robert Carr, project coordinator for the San Diego Green Business Council, presented a talk on the benefits to local merchants of converting to clean energy — including rebate programs from San Diego Gas & Electric.
  • La Jolla Golf Carts owner Robert Mackey introduced himself to the board and indicated his desire to be voted aboard (next time).
  • The next Merchant Mixer was announced for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18 at The LOT, 7611 Fay Ave., where candidates for the next term will introduce themselves to the board and public.
  • The board was approached to coordinate grand openings for the following new businesses: Wildcraftmedicine, Trianon clothing and lingerie, and Burgerim hamburgers.  La Jolla’s lack of recycling bins on the streets was brought up as a discussion item, during which board member Jamie Dixx cautioned to approach the issue “with balance,” because “it’s a bit of a marketing problem to say we need your help keeping our town clean.”

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association next meets 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12 in the Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave. (858) 454-5718.

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