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La Jolla’s planning group holds candidates forum

Community volunteers issue statements, prepare for March 3 election to La Jolla Community Planning Association board

LJCPA candidate Patrick Ahern
LJCPA candidate Patrick Ahern
Ashley Mackin

In preparation for its March 3 election, the La Jolla Community Planning Association held a forum at its Feb. 4 meeting to allow interested candidates to make a statement. There are 10 candidates running for eight available trustee seats.

LJCPA president Cindy Greatrex said the election will take place from 3 to 7 p.m. and after closing, the ballots will be counted. The tally will be presented to the president who, as soon as practical, will certify and announce the results during the meeting. The top six vote getters will serve three-year terms, the seventh highest vote-getter will serve a two-year term, and the eighth highest vote-getter will serve a one-year term. New trustees will be seated in April at the start of the regular meeting.

To be eligible to vote, one must be a LJCPA member (having attended one meeting and filled out a membership application). Membership status can be checked at lajollacpa.org

In alphabetical order, here are the candidates’ statements (candidates Dan Courtney, Steve Haskins and Glen Rasmussen were not present):

LJCPA member Patrick Ahern, running for re-election: “This is where things happen in our community, this is how we can make a difference. You can write a letter to the editor or speak to other neighborhood groups, but we are directly (connected) to the City of San Diego. That’s a powerful thing. … I will bring (to this board) my experience with community groups, knowledge of real estate and an upbringing in La Jolla. I’ve been on 18 boards including La Jolla Town Council, La Jolla Parks & Beaches, Historical Review Committee, Gaslamp Quarter Association, the city’s task force on homelessness, and more; that helps me understand these organizations and be effective. I also have knowledge of real estate in La Jolla; I understand how things are built. I’ve been in commercial real estate for many years, so I help people buy and sell homes, and I understand how what we do here affects real estate. I was raised in La Jolla, but I’ve also traveled all over the world so I have context and knowledge about what’s so special about this place, I’ve seen changes and what has stayed the same.”

LJCPA secretary Helen Boyden, running for re-election: “I was a member of La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee for five years, and I chaired it for four years. During my tenure, we were able to work with applicants and listen to concerns of neighbors to develop projects to meet the applicant’s needs but make it a better fit for the neighborhood. (At LJCPA) we face many challenges evaluating land use in La Jolla, such as: how can we keep what we have and add the new? I’ve been discouraged very frequently when the city interpretation of the La Jolla Community Plan, particularly the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance (blueprint for development), sometimes differs from the LJCPA. We need to keep working to improve the situation, and this is the group to do it in.

I’ve been living in La Jolla Shores since 1969 and our children attended La Jolla schools. During that time, I was a volunteer in many programs, such as the president of the PTA at Muirlands Middle and La Jolla High schools. We now live in (an area) called La Jolla Heights, but I think I’m the only trustee candidate that represents that area.”

LJCPA candidate David Haney
LJCPA candidate David Haney
Ashley Mackin

New candidate David Haney: “I’ve lived in La Jolla for 17 years. After receiving my doctorate in biochemistry from Northwestern University, I spent 35 years in research studying biochemistry, human disease and pharmaceuticals … my two sons graduated from La Jolla High School and now have doctorates and are both post-docs at UCSD. I have volunteered at La Jolla High School in science, including teaching AP chemistry when the teacher was out on extended leave.

Until now I haven’t been involved in city issues, but I’ve become involved because of the City of San Diego’s lack of transparency, its misinformation and apparent disrespect sometimes for La Jolla homeowners. In particular, I find it appalling the city found loopholes and violated laws to install revenue-generating cell-phone towers in public parks and next to schools and homes. I’ve made presentations to various city groups, such as this group and La Jolla Town Council, and San Diego City Council sub-committees and full City Council. I want to help La Jolla residents maintain their quality of life while faced with a lack of city planning transparency and interest in La Jolla residents.”

New candidate Phil Merten: “I’ve been a resident of La Jolla for 47 years and been a general member of this association for more than 30 years. I’ve done tours of duty on La Jolla Development Permit Review committee, even chaired it for a few years, and I’ve chaired the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee, as well. I believe development must be sensitive to and compatible with existing neighborhood character and compatible with surround development. With that in mind, I played an active role in the development of our La Jolla Community Plan and Local Coastal Program.

I have a strong appreciation for what it’s trying to do. As we move forward and development takes place in our community, we have to abide by and live by the policies and the goal in that Plan. That is what insures what remaining community character we have. My focus has been encouraging a profound appreciation for and adherence to the goals and recommendations of our Community Plan and a fair and consistent and uniform application of the planning rules and regulations that control our community.”

LJCPA candidate Bob Steck
LJCPA candidate Bob Steck
Ashley Mackin

LJCPA member Bob Steck, running for re-election: “I’ve been in La Jolla for seven years and have been on this board for the last three years. I’ve been very involved with the Permit Review Committee, and headed up the Short-Term Vacation Rental sub-committee for four or five very contentious months. My goal is to take a very fair and objective approach to land-use issues … I like to apply objective business principles to decisions and make things as objective as possible.”

LJCPA member Ray Weiss, running for re-election: “I was on the fence about running … but I’m looking at the stalwart citizens who are (running) and I decided to put my name in again. I’ve lived in La Jolla since 1956. … I’m a professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a chemist working on greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere. I sat on this committee for six years, termed out, sat out a year and came back, so now I’m at the end of another term. I don’t have too many dogs in this race, I just live and work here. I’m not in the development industry, nor am I an architect ... we depend on architects and their knowledge, but I can make up my own mind on things.”

LJCPA candidate Fran Zimmerman
LJCPA candidate Fran Zimmerman
Ashley Mackin

LJCPA member Fran Zimmerman, running for re-election: “I moved here in 1970 from the Midwest with my late husband who was a physician researcher at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation. We raised our two daughters here, they attended local public schools and they learned to swim at the YMCA. … Now my four grandchildren attend local public schools and swim at the Y and the (Coggan Pool). They play baseball and soccer in our community parks. There have been many changes in this community and beyond, that’s why I’m running. This board needs its resident lawyers, business owners, realtors, architects and builders, but it also needs regular householders to provide a balanced outlook as we try to protect our neighborhoods. LJCPA is a liaison to the city, but it is also a forum for residents of La Jolla, who worry about ‘mansionization,’ short-term vacation rentals, increasing traffic and density, commercial spaces encroaching on residential space, walkability, and maintaining our incredible beaches and public parks. We can positively influence our built environment and we can enhance the quality of life in this lovely small town.”

Note: Write-in candidates are allowed if they meet eligibility requirements: Be a member and have attended three LJCPA meetings in the preceding 12-month period, ending in February.