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Guest commentary: La Jolla MAD is at work on sidewalk and newsstand cleanup and bench plans

This refurbished wooden bench on Girard Avenue was vandalized Aug. 23.
(Courtesy)

In August, the La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District worked to advance cleanup and restoration efforts to areas in the public right of way, including sidewalk pressure washing, increased removal of trash and graffiti abatement. These activities have become increasingly important with many restaurants and other local businesses expanding their operations out onto sidewalks and streets in light of coronavirus restrictions placing limitations on indoor activities.

This month, an effort has begun in earnest to work with several local news publications to remove damaged, neglected and unkempt newsstands on many sidewalks.

Many of these publications have been very receptive in working with the MAD to maintain the appearance of our community. Unfortunately, many of these newsstands have become targets for vandalism or makeshift trash receptacles, which is not emblematic of the caliber of these publications or the endeavors of the LJ MAD.

We are thankful for the continued support of these publication owners. Together, this team effort can keep this kind of neighborhood blight from happening.

The LJ MAD is exploring several options with the city of San Diego when it comes to bringing more order to the placement of existing newsstands that are in good shape and regularly maintained. One option is to have connected newsstand cubbies strategically placed in high-traffic areas in The Village where multiple publications can have their materials featured.

Of course, this will take a consolidated effort with the city of San Diego when it comes to the annual permitting/licensing fees, and there is much more work to be done in that regard before any definitive solution is proposed.

In July, Enhance La Jolla embarked on a pilot project to refurbish the weathered wooden benches in The Village. All wooden benches on Prospect Street and Girard Avenue were catalogued in order of refurbishment priority and work was underway on the refurbishment of the first six wooden benches.

During the evening of Aug. 23, some of these wooden benches were vandalized, resulting in the removal of horizontal planks on which people sit. The LJ MAD endeavors to make our community a safe and inviting place and worked to ensure expedient corrective action. Anyone with information about this vandalism is encouraged to contact the San Diego Police Department’s non-emergency hotline at (619) 531-2000.

Going forward, the Enhance La Jolla board will review the current bench refurbishment proposal and may consider options other than refurbishment. There will be more news to report following the next Enhance La Jolla board meeting, scheduled to be streamed online at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17. Please visit enhancelajolla.org for more details.

Caring for The Village presents unique challenges and opportunities, and it is truly incredible what can occur with many eyes, ears and ideas about the neighborhood’s appearance. If you see an issue needing attention, please contact Enhance La Jolla at (858) 444-5892 or email manager@enhancelajolla.org.

Mary Montgomery is district manager for the La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District.