Bird Rock billboards going to ‘pot’: La Jolla and Pacific Beach residents riled over drug ads in neighborhoods

Are signs like this, lining Turquoise Street in Pacific Beach at the border of Bird Rock, a violation of current law?

At the Bird Rock Community Council (BRCC) meeting on March 5, Bird Rock resident Laura Bertagnolli asked for help battling marijuana billboards lining Turquoise Street near the southern end of Bird Rock.

Some of these billboards — two are currently in place, another was recently replaced with an alcohol ad — are within 13 feet of residences where children live, Bertagnolli claimed, and one is in violation of a current law stating that cannabis can’t be advertised within 1,000 feet of a daycare facility or school. (She singled out a sign advertising Torrey Holistics at 926 Turquoise St. as being too close to Pacific Beach Elementary School at 1234 Tourmaline St.)

“I have two teenage boys that I’m trying to raise not to do drugs,” Bertagnolli said, “yet everywhere I go, it’s a message of relax, have it delivered to you.”

Bertagnolli stated that she filed multiple complaints with the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the body that’s supposed to regulate cannabis billboards, and has not received any response.“I’m just wondering what we can do as a community to have the law enforced,” she said.

Bird Rock resident Laura Bertagnolli asks the Bird Rock Community Council for its help fighting cannabis billboards in Pacific Beach.

BRCC secretary Barbara Dunbar asked District 1 Council member Barbara Bry’s representative Mauricio Medina if the matter could be considered a code-compliance issue.

“It mostly right now, unfortunately, falls under the jurisdiction of the State, since the City hasn’t put forward its own regulation for these billboards,” Medina replied.

When Bertagnolli rhetorically asked what was behind the momentum of the advertising, attendee John Shannon answered: “dollars.”

“The reason why those are cannabis (ads) and not real estate and not a home show is that they will pay more money for those,” Shannon said, stating that just getting a cannabis license “makes you a millionaire.”

One attendee, who did not identify himself, asked if billboards could be banned in Pacific Beach “like they are in La Jolla,” to which Bird Rock resident Mike Costello replied that they are permitted in the Pacific Beach Planned District Ordinance.

BRCC president John Newsam suggested that Bertagnolli return to the next BRCC meeting and provide an update.

Diane Kane presents her plan to update the La Jolla Community Plan.

Kane able

La Jolla Community Planning Association and Development Permit Review Committee trustee Diane Kane asked for support for her proposed update to the La Jolla Community Plan that would include new park land and a list of capital-improvement projects.

“I’ve had nobody say, ‘This is stupid,’” said Kane. “What I’m hearing is that La Jolla looks terrible, there’s no money to fix anything and there’s no plan to fix anything. We need some leadership and I’m willing to take it on.”

Initially, Kane said, the Mayor’s Office “said they couldn’t see any downside.” Then they started asking additional questions, Kane said, “and now it’s apparently at the City Attorney’s Office with an issue about jumping La Jolla on the queue and the other is something called the Gift of Public Funds, which I don’t understand.”

Kane said she intends to plow forward anyway, by gathering information about what needs to be fixed or otherwise improved.

The presentation was not listed on the agenda as an action item, but Newsam pledged BRCC’s support.

Overlooks overlooked?

Don Schmidt presented an update from his committee on Bird Rock overlooks. He stated that the City informed the committee that it will take a year to get a right-of-entry permit to perform its suggested clean-ups.

“That’s ridiculous,” Schmidt said. “There are people chomping at the bit to (volunteer).”

Schmidt then asked to conduct the work “under the indemnification of the Bird Rock Development Council,” referring to the corporation run by the BRCC. The issue was liability insurance in case the volunteers injure anybody, including themselves. Dunbar stated that such insurance was prohibitively expensive. Instead, she suggested performing the work in conjunction with the Kiwanis Club, which could provide such liability, an idea to which Schmidt objected.

“We need a permit in perpetuity,” he said, “and none of us have the time to go to the Kiwanis and all that.”

Schmidt then asked Dunbar if they could negotiate a hold-harmless agreement, to which she agreed.

“The City can indemnify us if they wanted to,” Schmidt said. “It just hurts me.”

Also at BRCC

  • Field of nightmares: Jennifer Holley provided an update from the Bird Rock Foundation and Bird Rock Elementary School, stating that the school nurse has reported 40 injuries from divots and uneven patches in the grass on the field.“I’m still not entirely clear on who’s responsible for maintenance, because it’s the only joint-use park in San Diego,” Holley said, “but I believe it’s the City.” Medina promised to take this issue back to Bry’s office, along with the possibility of getting larger signs prohibiting off-leash dogs.
  • Bird Rock charrette? Sharon Wampler, speaking on behalf of architect Trace Wilson, who was called away on business, announced Wilson’s intention to discuss Bird Rock’s major development issues with 10 or 15 stakeholders, “to increase the density while maintaining architectural integrity and making it more functional.” Wampler said the next step was picking a day and finding a place, “perhaps the La Jolla Library.”
  • Events: BRCC board member Ron Fineman reported that this year’s Bird Rock Tour of Homes raised almost $10,000, half of which was split with the Bird Rock Foundation and $2,000 of which was used to pay expenses ... The July 4th Bird Rock parade will march again down Beaumont Street ... Finally, 2019 is the 25th anniversary of BRCC, so a tie-in was suggested with this year’s holiday party.

— Bird Rock Community Council next meets 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 2 at Bird Rock Elementary School, 5371 La Jolla Hermosa Ave.

Get the La Jolla Light weekly in your inbox

News, features and sports about La Jolla, every Thursday.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the La Jolla Light.