La Jolla Village Merchants board focus: Big promotion ideas!

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA) is flush with money and looking for ways to spend it. At its Feb. 13 meeting at the La Jolla Library, president Brett Murphy reported balanced assets and liabilities of $88,992.44 and cash flow of $78,000 or $79,000.

“We are in really great shape,” said executive director Jodi Rudick. “One of the reasons is that there have not been huge investments made in things that used to be a big investment for us.”

For instance, Rudick described “a big chunk of money” having been allocated for a marketing assistant. “But as long as we keep bringing in great marketing interns,” she said, “we won’t have to spend the money on marketing assistants.”

Rudick said LJVMA can keep its contingency money, but doesn’t get to keep or carry forward money that comes from the business improvement district (BID).

“And even scarier is that if we start not spending the money that is allocated to us, we will start getting a lesser contribution from the City,” she said, “so we want to make sure we’re really using that money wisely.”

How to spread the bread

At the same meeting, Rudick presented a draft budget to the board for July 1 to June 30, 2020, which the board unanimously approved. She described it as focusing mostly on promotion and marketing.

The board also unanimously voted to replace its worn-out system of decorative white lights along Girard Avenue and other main shopping drags. The Decor Plan has proposed a $3,700 upgrade, Murphy explained, “so it’s not going out whenever we have a light rain,” with maintenance costs of $200 per month.

“We just thought, instead of continuing to put a Band-Aid on it, let’s just make an investment,” Murphy said. “Even down to the extension cords we use, it’s kind of jerry-rigged together.”

Murphy explained that the Mutual Assessment District (MAD) will eventually take this on, “but right now we have to move ahead like the MAD doesn’t exist.”

Goals being met

Rudick chose a clear way to demonstrate the progress being made by the organization’s new regime. She dropped to her knees and filled in boxes on a poster representing 2019 strategic-plan goals that have already met.

“We are plowing through these,” Rudick said as she ticked off four of the plan’s 21 “big idea” goals: 1) developing an associate member category; 2) recruiting student interns/volunteers; 3) creating key messaging; and 4) merchant development.

The new associate membership category, approved by unanimous motion earlier in the meeting, was the big news. It is expected to create thousands of dollars in new annual LJVMA revenue.

“There are currently people doing business in our BID that basically don’t pay tax to do it, which isn’t fair,” said Murphy, adding that he already knows two business owners “who I know will be jumping all over this and signing this today.”

Associate LJVMA members will enjoy most of the rights of full members but cannot serve on the board until upgrading their memberships. Prospective associate members can apply at lajollabythesea.com and have their applications voted on by the board.Rudick wouldn’t state what associate-member dues will cost — other than less than full memberships. She explained that La Jolla’s BID-assessment structure is unusual in that it’s based on both where a business is located what category of business it is.

“It doesn’t necessarily align with what might be logical,” she said, “but it’s what we have and it’s not something that’s changeable.”

Cormorant-ing

Two representatives of the former La Jolla Inn at 1110 Prospect St. gave a presentation describing how nice the old hotel will look once it emerges from its construction cocoon later this year as Cormorant: A Boutique Hotel.

The hotel, which will boast 20 to 26 ultra-modern rooms, will preserve the Prospect Market, the reps said, by upgrading it to gourmet wines, beer, snacks and sandwiches.

Following the presentation, merchant Norma Kay, who runs the gift shop next door at 1116 Prospect St., voiced several complaints that seemed to take the reps by surprise.

Kay asked why she was never notified of the size of the construction, or of its many delays. (Originally, she said, she was told it would open last October. Now, she says, she was just notified that it won’t meet its April deadline.)

“For constructions of this size, usually the norm is that you contact the surrounding businesses and you let them know, so we can prepare for the downturn,” Kay told the reps and members of the board. “We have suffered tremendously. We have had to put up with scaffolding, very unattractive boarding … my business has been greatly impacted by this and I’m just left in the dark.”

Both Rudick and Murphy agreed with Kay that the Cormorant should have come to the LJVMA prior to beginning construction. “I don’t remember this even being a presentation,” Murphy said. “I would think you would present this before, versus when it’s almost done, or both.”

The reps apologized and the concerned parties walked outside the meeting room to continue their discussion.

Also at LJVMA

  • Right-of-way permits tabled: The board voted unanimously to table the public right of way (PROW) permit process. “The City does not enforce the PROW signage rules, so the Assocation would come off negatively,” Rudick said.
    The board voted unanimously to recommend establishing one or more shuttles to connect The Village to the Mid-Coast Trolley, set to open in 2021. La Jolla resident Dan Allen, who made the presentation, already received similar recommendations from the La Jolla Traffic and Transportation Board and La Jolla Shores Association.
  • Concours info: Board member Michael Dorvillier provided info about opportunities to co-promote the Concours d’Elegance, taking place April 12-14 throughout the Village.
  • On the rack: The board voted unanimously to allocate up to $2,500 to buy branded and unbranded bike racks to place around The Village, following a presentation by Janet Stratford Collins of La Jolla Parks & Beaches, who explained that her organization has no jurisdiction over most of downtown.
  • Merchants business breakfast: Business 4 Breakfast was announced for 8 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20 at CAVU, 7536 Fay Ave. It was described as “a free opportunity to learn how your business can take advantage of upcoming events including the Concours d'Elegance and the opening of The Conrad.”
  • Rotary baskets: Rudick announced that the La Jolla Rotary Club has agreed to refill empty baskets by partnering with the gardening clubs in La Jolla and Adelaide’s.

    — La Jolla Village Merchants Association next meets at 3 p.m. Wed., March 13 at the La Jolla Library Community Room, 7555 Draper Ave.
  • Shuttle diplomacy:
Copyright © 2019, © 2019, The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. All rights reserved.
54°