La Jolla Town Council creates business and crime task forces

Two hours before announcing the formation of a task force to find a solution to the sea lion problem at La Jolla Cove, the La Jolla Town Council (LJTC) announced the formation of two other task forces. At the monthly meeting July 14 at La Jolla Rec Center, LJTC president Ann Kerr Bache said a committee was on the way to better support businesses in La Jolla, and another to create a “community watch” network of Neighborhood Watch captains.

1) La Jolla Chamber of Commerce

In what Kerr Bache is calling a “Chamber of Commerce aspect of La Jolla Town Council,” she explained that “it’s a very simple idea right now … we’re going to pull together members of the Town Council, but more importantly, members of the business community to brainstorm how the Town Council could be more involved and more helpful to businesses in La Jolla.”

She later elaborated to La Jolla Light, “The Town Council serves two communities — the residential community and the business community — and has been for 65 years. It has been very active with the residential community and now we’d like go back to being just as involved with the business community.” As an example, she said it used to be commonplace for Town Council trustees to be at every business opening or event, but the practice tapered off in recent years.

Independent of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association, which only promotes businesses within the Village’s Business Improvement District (BID), Kerr Bache said the committee would work with businesses across 92037, including UTC, Bird Rock and La Jolla Shores. “We need to see what the needs might be or what might be lacking, what’s missing, what we can help with,” she said. “We might create a directory of businesses in the area, and/or a directory of businesses that are grouped, such as by home improvement or event services for a wedding. We want to work with other businesses and create something of value, not just for the sake of creating something.”

As a preemptive action, LJTC reserved the website

The board will kick off the effort by partnering with La Jolla Nights in a community celebration to garner Town Council membership from the business community and residents. At the 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2 event, those who sign up to become Town Council members (and pay the $50 membership) will be granted access to a VIP room and specialty offers. A sign-up table will front The La Jolla Gallery at 1274 Prospect St.

2) Community Watch Committee

A second task force, to improve communications between La Jolla’s Neighborhood Watch captains and better understand area crime trends, will be run under the auspices of LJTC and called the Community Watch Committee. Barber Tract resident Cynthia Chasan will represent this committee and provide reports at LJTC meetings, likely starting in September.

Citing the success of the collaboration between the Barber Tract Neighborhood Association collaboration and the LJTC to deter drinking and drug use at Marine Street beach, Kerr Bache said she hopes the Community Watch Committee would better inform residents of what types of crimes are taking place and how residents can better protect themselves. With select areas of Marine Street beach out of view of lifeguards and police, the area became known for underage drinking and drug use.

As the chair the Barber Tract Neighborhood Watch, Chasen explained to La Jolla Light, “We were having so many problems, we came to the Town Council to beg and plead for help. We worked with Community Relations Officer Larry Hesselgesser all winter long to figure out what we could do as a neighborhood because we knew police were not going to be able to staff us with an officer. So rather than constantly begging and asking, we worked with them on a plan to keep Marine Street beach a community beach.”

In the course of her work, Chasen met with other Neighborhood Watch captains and attended the San Diego Neighborhood Watch Summit, in which San Diego Police Department offered “ways we could help police and what police could do to help us,” she said.

With contacts for the 12 other La Jolla Neighborhood Watch captains in hand, Chasan agreed to work as a group to share information (via group e-mails for now) and be a liaison for the LJTC. “The Neighborhood Watch captains will provide information on what’s going on in their area to me, and I report it to the Town Council,” she said.

Going forward, the Community Watch Committee will create a monthly report of crimes, with the types, location and frequency of crimes and report that information to LJTC and provide it to San Diego Police. “It gives them quantitative data of what is going on and where. It will help alert people as to what might be coming or what is happening,” Kerr Bache said. “We’re being proactive and working with other neighborhood associations to start taking some real action beyond putting up (Neighborhood Watch) signs.”

Those interested in joining the committee are encouraged to visit and fill out the message form under “Contact Us” with the subject “Community Watch Committee.”

Next meeting

Because several other local advisory groups do not meet in the summer, Kerr Bache said she would likely cancel the August La Jolla Town Council meeting. The 5 p.m. Thursday Sept. 8 meeting will be focused on “Village issues,” such as signage, and an in-depth discussion of the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance. LJTC meets second Thursdays at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

La Jolla Light’s POLL OF THE WEEK: