Our Readers Write: La Jollans upset by over-aggressive solicitors outside stores, dangerous intersections, unleashed dogs, never-ending La Jolla Shores construction and more hot topics

Skincare companies with employees standing outside their stores’ doorways are soliciting passerbys and distributing product samples in the Village of La Jolla — drawing complaints by local residents.
Skincare companies with employees standing outside their stores’ doorways are soliciting passerbys and distributing product samples in the Village of La Jolla — drawing complaints by local residents.
(María José Durán)

Our Readers Write / Opinion / Letters to the Editor:

Letters to the Editor from the March 30, April 6 and April 13, 2017 issues of La Jolla Light as La Jollans speak out on local issues:


••• Readers express disdain for product ‘hawking’

• Ah yes, welcome to La Jolla! Home of the Cove stench, the empty storefronts, the lack of parking, and on nearly every street corner distracting “greeters” with outreached palms asking for money! Now comes “The Gauntlet.” And what might that be? It is the pestering Girard Avenue “free sample” cosmetic merchants who won’t take “no” for answer! Just when one thought it was “safe” to walk along Prospect Street, surprise! Now there are two more recently added stores that won’t leave pedestrians alone. It is sad to see how The Village is evolving. Is it any wonder why friends and family don’t care to visit La Jolla like they used to? Can you blame them? — Annette R. Buis

• I, too, on multiple occasions, have been solicited by skincare sample hawkers on Prospect Street. However, the last time I encountered them, I happened to walk by with my husband who stands 6-feet, 5-inches tall. Amazingly, they didn’t approach or even make eye contact with us. After reading the March 23 La Jolla Light article on such business practices, I realize just how predatory such behavior is toward women. Next time it happens, these hawkers can expect a rude and unprintable response from me. — Mary Helen Ish

• Many of us in The Village are upset with the aggressive sales tactics used by some cosmetic and skincare businesses in town. Similar stores are located in other places around the country, and I think there is a greater story behind these operations. It doesn’t seem possible that they could all be very profitable, yet they keep opening up … similar merchandise and sales tactics, but with different names. — Irwin Kwatek


••• Up the fines, not the laws

After reading the last few issues of La Jolla Light, I felt compelled to weigh-in on two public concerns making headlines: Dangerous intersections and off-leash dogs.

Dangerous intersections: I find it interesting that the City of San Diego installs traffic congestion signals to help improve bad traffic areas and yet this makes the traffic worse, Torrey Pines at La Jolla Shores Drive is a perfect example. The only reason there are dangerous intersections is because there are negligent drivers. If the Department of Motor Vehicles decided to give driver licenses is to truly qualified individuals, there would be a lot less drivers on the road running “No Turn on Red” signals at Torrey Pines Road and Girard Avenue.

What the public should be asking, is for the laws to be changed, so when somebody does run the “No Turn on Red” intersection, instead of getting a $200 fine, they get a $2,000 fine, and they have to go to traffic school for 30 hours. That will get negligent humans to stop creating dangerous intersections.

Dog/pet problems: Bill Smith’s letter last week concluded, “The problem is with irresponsible and presumptuous dog owners.” He couldn’t be more correct, but there is still a small related issue. There are quality humans out there who give nothing but rules to their dogs, and when they walk their dogs off-leash, they pick up the poop and make sure their dogs don’t run into people’s picnics, etc., but they still get ticketed. I think that’s wrong.

As a pet trainer who has taught many dogs to walk off-leash, I suggest that instead of ticketing people who have an off-leash dog, let’s change the fine structure. If your dog poops off-leash and you don’t pick it up, you get a $1,000 ticket. If your dog runs into the street off-leash, you must pay for all damages caused by the dog. If the dog runs into some one’s picnic and destroys it, you pay a $500 fine, plus the cost of the food lost.

There have been a few non-negligent humans who’ve gotten tickets for off-leash dogs and afterward, those dogs end up having more behavioral problems because on a leash, the dogs feel dictated to after a life of freedom, and without that off-leash freedom, dogs end up with more anxiety and stress when they are forced back on the leash. There are too many laws humans must follow and most of those laws are ridiculous. — Taylor Freeman


••• Clarification to story on architects in La Jolla

The recent article on the history of architecture in La Jolla, mentioned that there really were no real architects working in La Jolla prior to the 1920s. It is important to note that Irving Gill, through Ellen Browning Scripps’ patronage, had constructed the series of buildings in The Village after 1900 that set a contemporary tone — her home (now the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Woman’s Club, Community Center, Bishop’s School and Scripps Hospital.

Gill’s buildings were important to anchoring and giving style to what was essentially an artist’s colony with beach cottages and a few homes. Gill’s designs were important and helped to give confidence in the future of The Village, encouraging the post 1920s investment in surrounding subdivisions. There needed to be a “suitable” town — people could enjoy! — Seonaid McArthur


••• Overgrown plants are a hazard for walkers

This morning (March 27) as I was walking up Nautilus Street on the sidewalk just west of All Hallows Academy, I witnessed a young mother with her toddler son in a stroller run into some ice plant that is so far overgrown on the sidewalk that the baby and the stroller went flying and she tumbled right over them. It was horrifying to see. They seemed to be OK (for now), but very roughed up and the child, of course, was hysterical.

Can we get some help for our sidewalks and roads? This should have never have happened! It’s just so out of control. Thank God this pair was OK because the accident could have been much worse than it was! We’re all just looking for a little help from the City to keep our sidewalks safe to walk on. — Ceci Filter


••• Correction to story on ‘Tower 18' book

I greatly appreciate the information you recently printed about me and my upcoming book release for “Tower 18.” The exposure will hopefully be beneficial to book sales. However, there is a typo in line one that misspells my last name — Bathney. There is no N in my name. It is spelled Bathey. But more important, the news brief states that I am a retired Airborne Master Sergeant. My bio includes a statement that my father is the retired Master Sergeant. I certainly do not wish to misrepresent myself as an Army veteran when I am not. — Tony Bathey


••• Long-suffering residents fed up with La Jolla Shores construction project

I’m writing to inform everyone concerned about the impact the construction project in The Shores has had on residents. The March 16 edition of La Jolla Light, had a story about tourist confusion at the street closures in The Shores construction area. Mentioned in the article is the La Jolla Shores Association and their repetitive complaint of the loss of business caused by the construction, which is significant. What is always missing in the coverage of this construction is mention of the impact on the residents who are caught up in this mess.

I live on Camino Del Oro, just 100 feet from the main construction, and it has been an extremely frustrating and trying experience for more than two months now.

While I fully understand the project and the fact that the street was to be torn up and a trench dug, what exasperates me and other residents, is that there is a complete lack of sensitivity for our well-being. Construction activities that could be minimized to save us some sanity are not curbed at all.

I have written a series of e-mails with links to videos I’ve taken to the City Engineering Department informing them that the contractor’s practices show blatant disregard for residents’ well-being — jackhammering from 7 a.m., six days a week on cement that could be carted out in larger blocks, trucks blocking driveways, trucks parked at my building with loud generators running.

I work at home. My building shakes constantly due to the jackhammering, and with that and the constant noise, dust, trucks and diesel exhaust — I’m literally at the end of my rope. If I shut my windows, my apartment heats up quickly, so I’m stuck just dealing with this. At times, I can barely hear phone calls so my business is taking a hit.

When you next report on the impact of The Shores construction project on area businesses, please don’t forget to mention the residents who are living in hell through this. — Name withheld by request


••• Disappointed by bus shelter installation

I was so surprised to read in last week’s La Jolla Light that we have a “bus shelter” recently installed on Pearl Street. As long as I can remember in La Jolla, we have always opposed the bus shelter as it is really just a big billboard, and we do not allow billboards in La Jolla, which is why we look different than other communities. We are billboard-free. This placement is a shame and will affect the way La Jolla looks, I have no idea how this slipped by Community Planning. — Melinda Merryweather


••• Nice story on retired barber, Dean Bundell

Thank you for a fun story and interview with retired barber Dean Bundell, in the March 23 La Jolla Light issue. My very good friend’s father, Tony LaMarca, worked with Dean for years before he passed. Many fond memories were brought up thanks to your article. — Jeff Quint


••• Inga’s column on financial advice is right on!

Bravo, Auntie Inga for hitting the nail on the head when it comes to “financial advisors,” in your March 16 column. To Inga’s wise words on investing, I would like to add a couple of thoughts:

1) The Fiduciary Rule is not going through because of the Trump administration. Yes, the same Trump administration that claimed, during the Presidential campaign, that it would drain the “swamp.” Unfortunately, he meant, according to his proposed budget, PBS, the EPA and anything else that might protect regular citizens from the seedier elements of capitalist enterprise.

2) I offer a lengthy (and yet great) quote on the issue of high-fee funds excerpted from Warren Buffet’s most recent letter to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway. I hope it inspires you to examine more closely what you pay in fees when investing in your 401k at work and elsewhere.

“Over the years, I’ve often been asked for investment advice, and in the process of answering I’ve learned a good deal about human behavior. My regular recommendation has been a low-cost S&P 500 index fund. To their credit, my friends who possess only modest means have usually followed my suggestion.

I believe, however, that none of the mega-rich individuals, institutions or pension funds has followed that same advice when I’ve given it to them. Instead, these investors politely thank me for my thoughts and depart to listen to the siren song of a high-fee manager or, in the case of many institutions, to seek out another breed of hyper-helper called a consultant.

That professional, however, faces a problem. Can you imagine an investment consultant telling clients, year after year, to keep adding to an index fund replicating the S&P 500? That would be career suicide. Large fees flow to these hyper-helpers, however, if they recommend small managerial shifts every year or so. That advice is often delivered in esoteric gibberish that explains why fashionable investment ‘styles’ or current economic trends make the shift appropriate.

The wealthy are accustomed to feeling that it is their lot in life to get the best food, schooling, entertainment, housing, plastic surgery, sports ticket, you name it. Their money, they feel, should buy them something superior compared to what the masses receive.

In many aspects of life, indeed, wealth does command top-grade products or services. For that reason, the financial ‘elites’ — wealthy individuals, pension funds, college endowments and the like — have great trouble meekly signing up for a financial product or service that is available as well to people investing only a few thousand dollars. This reluctance of the rich normally prevails even though the product at issue is — on an expectancy basis — clearly the best choice. My calculation, admittedly very rough, is that the search by the elite for superior investment advice has caused it, in aggregate, to waste more than $100 billion over the past decade.

Figure it out: Even a 1 percent fee on a few trillion dollars adds up. Of course, not every investor who put money in hedge funds 10 years ago lagged S&P returns. But I believe my calculation of the aggregate shortfall is conservative.

Much of the financial damage befell pension funds for public employees. Many of these funds are woefully underfunded, in part because they have suffered a double whammy: poor investment performance accompanied by huge fees. The resulting shortfalls in their assets will for decades have to be made up by local taxpayers.

Human behavior won’t change. Wealthy individuals, pension funds, endowments and the like will continue to feel they deserve something “extra” in investment advice. Those advisors who cleverly play to this expectation will get very rich. This year the magic potion may be hedge funds, next year something else. The likely result from this parade of promises is predicted in an adage: “When a person with money meets a person with experience, the one with experience ends up with the money and the one with money leaves with experience.”

P.S. Inga, I enjoy your columns keep them coming! — Martin Pszczola


••• Congregational Church of La Jolla goes solar

Two years ago, while planning a centennial celebration, members of the Congregational Church of La Jolla found themselves peering into the future, imagining a meaningful legacy they could impart to future generations. At that moment, a commitment to into tap into the energy of the sun, in order to power the church’s present and future energy needs, took shape.

On Sunday, April 2, the congregation gathered in the church sanctuary at 1216 Cave St. to celebrate the installation of the 34 solar panels that will fuel the church’s energy footprint. The ceremony also recognized the big-hearted people whose vision and determination made the project possible, including installer Travis Nixon of Absolutely Electric.

Pastor Bear Ride likened the blessing of the solar panels to a ship christening. “We celebrated our continued good stewardship of the Earth by being green and smart. My sermon touched upon how the solar installation will benefit both the church and our planet, as a step of faithfulness, environmental stewardship and good common sense.”

A musical program, featuring the church choir’s rousing rendition of the beloved Beatles classic, “Here Comes the Sun,” and a post-service Champagne reception in the adjacent fellowship hall rounded out the festivities.

Dating back to 1889, the church is La Jolla’s oldest faith community. Its covenant is rooted in the worship tradition brought to America by the Pilgrims in the early 1600s. Inspired by the United Church of Christ’s history as a leader of cultural movements advocating for a just and inclusive society, Congregational Church of La Jolla welcomes all people into its church family. To learn more, visit lajollaucc.orgMolly Bowman-Styles


••• Are La Jolla High track info signs misleading?

Thanks for the front-page article about La Jolla High School track usage in the April 6 La Jolla Light issue, as the ongoing coverage of this topic is needed and appreciated. However, I and others were not sure what to make of your photo of the posted rules for use. The caption states “The rules are.” Did you mean to state “were” instead of “are,” since the track is closed to the public?

It might be worth clarifying why you included the rules in the article. It is sensitive matter since the school’s principal has noted that the public has violated posted rules. His statements are misleading since those rules are posted at only one of the many entrances to the track.

I ran on the track for years without entering at the single point where the rules are posted, so never saw them. Like most users I met there, I complied with the rules anyway. (I verified yesterday that the rules for the track are posted only at that one point — rules for tennis, only, are posted at another entrance to the track.)

Unfortunately, your otherwise good article, by showing the posted rules, seems to support the principal’s suggestion that the public generally ignores them, his justification for denying access. I ask that if you are going to post the rules in your newspaper that you also note the facts about their limited disclosure in order to avoid the appearance of bias in favor of the principal’s agenda. — Nick Ecos

• Reporter’s Note: Although the sign in question was removed April 10, the photo of the sign was included in the story to address questions raised about the type of public notice listing the rules at La Jolla High’s track and field. School officials reported signage was posted, while some track-users said there was none, and others called the signage “weak.”

To let readers form their own opinions, La Jolla Light located a sign on March 28 and took its photo. The sign was posted at the Fay Avenue entrance/parking lot when the track was open for public use under previous principals.

La Jolla High athletic director Paula Conway told the Light on April 10 there were previously multiple signs posted, and that “The majority came down months ago (when the track was closed), but I guess one was missed at the Fay Avenue entrance. That was taken down Monday.”


••• Time to speak up for arts and tech training at La Jolla High School

La Jolla High School (LJHS) was founded in 1922 and has always been a top-rated high school in California and the nation. It provides all core academic and AP courses, but what makes LJHS so special is the variety of courses offered to students including Music, Wood Shop (construction technology) and Auto Shop (transportation technology).

Sadly, this could be the last year for some of these programs unless we as a community pull together and save the great resources that hundreds of La Jolla students enjoy. An estimated 45,000-plus have participated in these programs over the nine-plus decades they’ve existed. The amount of time and resources that have gone into building these programs are immense. If we allow the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) to do away with these programs, they will never come back.

My brothers and myself took Wood Shop and played in the orchestra and band at LJHS. My twin brother, Ramsey, took Auto Shop and as a result, enjoyed building race cars and racing all his life. My son is a sophomore at LJHS where he plays in the orchestra and takes Wood Shop. These are his most enjoyable classes and what excites him about going to school, as is the case with so many students. These classes build self-confidence, self-reliance and a sense of accomplishment, attracting a high percentage (43 percent) of females in Wood Shop and students of all academic levels.

Girard Mattio (LJHS Wood Shop teacher for 15 years) and Ken Davis (LJHS Auto Shop teacher for 27 years) have taught tens of thousands of students. Michael Fiedler has increased the number of students in the Music Department 12-fold since he took over seven years ago. It’s a possibility that in light of budget cuts, the Wood and Auto Shops will be closed and the space used for other purposes unless we, the La Jolla community, do something about it.

These teachers know their classes put math, science and design art into practical, hands-on 3-dimensional understanding to build the basic, requisite skills for engineering, architecture, musical instrument-making, automotive design and bio-medical instrument design, to name a few. A LJHS alum told Mattio, “I’m a surgeon now because I learned technical eye-hand coordination when I was young by using a lathe in wood shop at LJHS. I discovered I was good at it and it made me want to become a surgeon.”

Davis told me about a former student who is now in charge of battery development for TESLA. Other former LJHS auto shop students work for Toyota, Volvo and Nissan, while others run their own automotive shops (Mode Automotive and Agile Off-road) in San Diego. Numerous others have gone on to become mechanical and electrical engineers, getting their start at LJHS Auto Shop. Training to “do-it-yourself” is an indispensable skill that all students will use throughout their lives.

Let’s not forget the great musicians that have come out of LJHS, to name one, George Sakakini played with me in the orchestra at Muirlands and LJHS, and is now the principal bassoonist with the Tokyo Symphony.

Opponents of these programs see things differently. They say times have changed and we don’t need them any longer. I disagree. Today, as many as 40 percent of American college graduates in the past five years are unemployed or under-employed. Students are learning that a college education does not necessarily give them real job skills or a career. They are starting to opt for vocational skills, as in Germany, where only 28 percent of young people seek university degrees.

The vast majority of young Germans attend skilled vocational schools. American youth will need to think more in this direction. Therefore, it’s more important than ever that we provide high school students with ways of building transferable skills that lead them to vocational training if they opt out of college.

Our La Jolla community can surely support these programs. Call LJHS at (858) 454-3081 and tell Principal Podhorsky to keep our Wood and Auto Shops, and protect our Music and Arts programs. Sign your kids up for music and shop classes. Contribute generously to the LJHS Foundation to safeguard this historic, wonderful school.

The LJHS Governance Team will meet 2:30 p.m. Monday, May 1 in Room 301 at La Jolla High, 750 Nautilus St. This team will decide how budget cuts will be implemented. Students, teachers and administrators sit on the team. Everyone is invited to attend and give input. — Nile El Wardani, Ph.D.


••• Cameras and higher fines will work to slow speeders down

My comments are in response to Taylor Freeman’s letter in the March 30 issue about the fines for traffic violations at pedestrian crosswalks. I totally agree that fines should definitely be upped, a $200 fine is not going to solve the problem, a $2,000 fine could! Unfortunately, such drivers will still turn on red anyway! I see it everyday in the morning and the afternoons. Why not install a camera at these intersections to show proof of these careless drivers?

Furthermore, our alleys are not raceway shortcuts. There are people who drive very fast, ripping down the alley and around the corner for no apparent reason. There are children, elders and people walking pets who frequent the alleys of Hershel Avenue, facing north and south. I wish people would slow down before they end up hurting someone or something. What’s the rush anyway? — La Jollan since 1964, Name withheld by request


••• What’s on YOUR mind?

Letters published in La Jolla Light express views and comments from readers in regard to community issues. To share your thoughts in this public forum, e-mail them with your name and city of residence to or mail them to La Jolla Light Editor, 565 Pearl St., Suite 300, La Jolla, CA 92037. Letters reflect the writer’s views and do not necessarily represent opinions of the newspaper staff or publisher.