Private Security in The Village? Bird Rock effort could extend patrol to greater La Jolla


A developing plan to establish private security in Bird Rock could expand into the Village and all the way up to La Jolla Shores, depending on interest.

Introduced at the Nov. 10 La Jolla Town Council meeting at the Rec Center, Ron Fineman of the organization La Jolla Safety said any neighborhood interested in signing up for the private patrol is invited to do so — but would need a minimum of 80 residents. The concept will also be presented at upcoming meetings of the La Jolla Shores Association and the La Jolla Village Merchants Association.

“The purpose of La Jolla Safety is to use private security diminish crime in La Jolla,” Fineman said. “But La Jolla is a big community, and we need people to sign up, area by area. Since I live in Bird Rock, I started there. But if any group wants to get this going, we can start wherever the need is.” He added that 50 people have already signed up in the Bird Rock/Upper La Jolla Hermosa area, and La Jolla Safety is waiting for the remaining 30 before they hire the patrol force. An “area” for these purposes is clusters of approximately 1,500 homes, rather than a certain mile radius.

Motivated by personal experience, Fineman said the interest in hiring private security comes from crimes in Bird Rock. “I’ve only lived in La Jolla for two years and I lived in Los Angeles for 20 years before that, but I have experienced more theft in my two short years here, than I did in LA,” he said.

Once the minimum number of participants is reached, Fineman said patrol would begin with four or five random hours, so would-be criminals would not learn to expect a patrol officer certain times a day, in certain areas.

Lance Ruiz, COO of Security First (the firm that will likely be hired), said these officers would have similar duties to San Diego police officers. “We would provide an armed patrol officer and a marked security unit, based on community demands, which could mean responses to domestic violence situations, noise complaints due to loud parties, vacation checks on houses when participants are out of town, security assessments on houses to check for vulnerabilities or just the presence of an officer to deter criminal activity,” he told La Jolla Light.

As an example of the customized service, he said one patrol area the firm covers has a high transient population, so his officers walk the streets to encourage transients to go elsewhere.

Said Fineman, “We’re hoping to get the cost down to $50 a month, but in the beginning, it would probably be between $50 and $100 a month. If we had 1,000 participants, we could get it way down.” He added that La Jolla Safety is finalizing its non-profit status and as such, can host fundraisers to establish a seed fund.

Fineman also said La Jolla Safety is ready to sign a contract with Security First. “We’re really impressed with them and what they have to offer. They stepped up and sent a free patrol car on Halloween to help the off-duty officers in Bird Rock,” he said. Security First has a fleet of 100 cars.

The firm was selected after several months of interviews. At previous Bird Rock Community Council meetings, representatives from National Public Safety presented, but they were ultimately deemed “not a good fit” for La Jolla. Fineman began his efforts in June.

In other La Jolla Town Council news:

New trustee: Following a motion by trustee Joe Pitrofsky, a motion to seat new trustee and real estate agent Cindy McGowan passed unanimously. She will be sworn in at the next meeting.

Future meetings: President Ann Kerr Bache said the next three meetings would each have a specific topic. In December, LJTC will focus on the contentious issue of short-term vacation rentals. Legislative updates and regulations will be discussed. In January, a State of La Jolla forum with members from each community advisory group talking about what they do, will be offered. Newly elected District 1 (La Jolla) City Council member Barbara Bry has been invited to share her goals. In February, the focus will be on homelessness.

Toni Atkins in the house: California State Senator-elect Toni Atkins arrived to explain the issues that are going to be forefront with the State legislature: water and drought, funding education (jump started by the passage of Prop 55), affordable housing and homelessness.

She also advocated for updating community plans where appropriate so localities can control where new housing goes. “We need to find a way to be (productive) without giving up a community’s way to control its own destiny. You’ve got to incentivize a community to update the community plan,” she said.

La Jolla Town Council next meets 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.