Town Council hears new ideas for community engagement

In its efforts to increase community attendance at La Jolla Town Council meetings, trustees revived the New Ideas series and at the Nov. 12 meeting, trustee Mike Dershowitz took the microphone to offer his — get more speakers on hot topics and expand membership.

The Town Council, founded in 1950, meets monthly to provide a forum for civic speakers, project updates and discussion on current issues. Although it is not a formal advisory board to the city, it can lend its support or opposition to matters of concern to La Jollans. In light of its recent well-attended Candidates Forum, in which the three candidates for the District 1 City Council seat to be vacated by Sherri Lightner spoke and answered questions, Dershowitz proposed other candidate forums. Chiefly, he said, bring in the congressional candidates that will run against incumbent Scott Peters, as well as the candidates for City Attorney. Both positions will be up for election in 2016.

In addition to the government representatives that give reports at Town Council meetings, Dershowitz suggested updates on the status of the Chargers football team, and whether they will stay in San Diego. For this, he recommended Mike Fabiani, tasked with finding a permanent home for the NFL team, and attorney Cory Briggs, who launched an initiative that (among other things) aims to keep the Chargers in their Mission Valley home. “I think both speakers would be extremely interesting,” Dershowitz said.

Further, he added, he would like to see the Town Council expand its membership by reaching out to other community organizations. As examples, he mentioned La Jolla Bar Association, local Rotary Clubs, Las Patronas, La Jolla Newcomers Club, political clubs and realtors. He also suggested partnering with others to offer joint memberships, specifically, the La Jolla Community Center, La Jolla YMCA and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

Although his term will be up in the coming months, Dershowitz said it’s been “an honor” to serve on the Town Council.

In other Town Council news

Partners against crime: Last year, the Town Council joined forces with the Barber Tract Neighborhood Association (BTNA) in its efforts to rid Barber Tract beaches – between White Sands retirement community and the north end of WindanSea Beach – of drug use and other crime. At the Nov. 12 meeting, BTNA member Ann Kerr Bache reported their efforts had been successful, but would need to continue next year.

“The Barber Tract neighborhood has always been quiet, until social media came along, which (helped spread the word that) it was a good place to cut school and do other things,” she said. At previous community advisory group meetings, Bache and other neighbors reported excessive drug use and underage drinking. “The police and lifeguards were unaware of it all because it’s hidden (and not part of regular patrol).”

BTNA members recorded the illegal activities, some documenting drug sales and use, and submitted their findings to the city. With a better grasp of the situation, Northern Division police officers and lifeguards patrolled the beaches during the summer months and wrote citations. “The drug use went down quickly and word got out, according to my son, that I was ruining the beach,” Bache joked.

“(Having enforcement there) worked very well, but none of these resources were written into the budget. I’ve written a letter to acknowledge how the additional enforcement made a huge impact on La Jolla and made the strong recommendation that these resources be increased,” she said. A motion to have the Town Council sign the letter in support passed unanimously. It will be sent to San Diego Police Department, Lifeguards and Lightner’s office.

Climate Action Plan update: Kayla Race, of Climate Action Campaign, gave a presentation about the City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan and the impacts of climate change on the city. Learn more at

Sea Lion situation update: LJTC president Steve Haskins said a special meeting is being planned to report the findings of the Coastal Committee of La Jolla Town Council, aka the Sea Lion Committee, which has been meeting with city officials and sea lion experts over the growing pinniped population at La Jolla Cove. “We expect to have some very interesting results to go over (pertaining to) this intricate issue,” he said. Details of the meeting, including date and location, will be reported as soon as they are available.

La Jolla Town Council meets 5 p.m. second Thursdays at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.