At La Jolla Village Merchants Association’s (LJVMA) April 10 meeting at the Riford Library, executive director Jodi Rudick referred to her group’s recent Concours d’Elegance merchant event, Brake in the Village, as “a dress rehearsal” for Enjoya La Jolla. The street festival is slated to launch 3-7 p.m. Saturday, May 11 around Prospect Street and Girard Avenue, then recur on the second Saturday of every month.
Like La Jolla Nights, which ran in 2015 and 2016, Enjoya La Jolla will distribute passports to visitors that feature special offers, activities and refreshments.
“We went over and above to invite the merchants to participate,” said Rudick, who thanked ACE parking for donating free parking to the public at 888 Prospect Street for the inaugural event.
Parking program update
Rudick reported being told by a rep from the Coastal Commission that, if a remote parking reservoir can be located, they’re “very interested in continuing the conversation” about a new discounted parking program for merchants.
“The parameters for a shuttle are quite stringent because of the challenge of bringing more people to The Village without causing additional parking issues,” Rudick said, “so if you know someone who has a parcel of land, please let us know.”
LJVMA president Brett Murphy added that UCSD has offered a space for LJVMA to use in the summer. “All the different community groups are coming together on this and we’ll make something happen together,” he said.
Elephant in the library
It wasn’t on the agenda, and doesn’t come up often at LJVMA meetings, but J. McLaughlin store manager Natalie Aguirre Aguirre brought up the subject of how best to take on Westfield UTC, whose recent multimillion-dollar expansion seems to suggest that it is luring high-end shoppers to University Town Center at the same time that The Village appears to be losing them.Specifically, Aguirre suggested that many La Jolla real-estate brokers also deal with Westfield UTC, and that they are inclined to fill the mall with tenants before filling La Jolla and should be held accountable for it.
It was a difficult topic that — judging from the reaction as Aguirre spoke — weighed heavily on the minds of many merchants in the audience.
“We don’t own the buildings, we don’t have any control,” LJVMA president Brett Murphy replied. “We have discussed it with them before and haven’t gotten anywhere.”Murphy explained that “our goal is to build this great community that people want to come to, then maybe it will change their minds.”
Commercial property owner rep Jonathan Lipsky, seated in the audience, volunteered that “there’s going to be an opportunity now to start funneling (business lost to UTC) back into The Village.”
“There was a real perfect storm with them having so much space to fill up when they opened,” Lipsky said, “and a lot of stores that were not traditional mall tenants located there because it was the only game in town, and a lot of them are not making it.”
Lipsky added that “there are places that are now on their second- and third-generation space, because of the high rents they charge.” (Lipsky estimated that rents at UTC are 40 percent higher than they are in The Village, on average, and include additional common charges.)
Torrey Pines traffic update
The Torrey Pines Slope Restoration Project is finishing up with a combination of night and day work on Torrey Pines Road.
“The engineers felt that this was the best way,” said Mauricio Medina, rep for City Council member Barbara Bry’s office. “It might have something to do with the noise.”
“There are thousands affected by day work but 29 people affected at night,” replied board member Robert Mackey.
Aguirre added that whenever they need to close a lane by day, it’s a lane exiting La Jolla instead of entering. “That one difference is huge,” she said.
In other Merchant news…
- Added clout: Rudick was elected secretary of the BID Alliance Executive Committee, a coalition of business improvement districts in San Diego. “That group has a lot of power in terms of how to get things done,” she said.
- Traffic duty: Board member Robert Mackey was unanimously elected to fill the LJVMA seat on the La Jolla Traffic and Transportation Board recently vacated by Aaron Goulding, whose business is no longer located in La Jolla’s business improvement district (BID).
- The April merchant business breakfast is 8:30-9:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 16 at The LOT, 7611 Fay Ave. Julie Ethan, CEO of Ethan Advisors, will present a program for small businesses called “Are you stretched too thin? How to know when to ask for help.”
- On April 27, local firefighters will remove 140 flower baskets from the tops of lamp posts in the BID, then bring them to a parking lot where the old flowers will be replaced by the La Jolla Rotary Club, after which firefighters will rehang the pots.
- Changes were made to the LJVMA’s lajollabythesea.com website making it easier for visitors to find what they need.
— The La Jolla Village Merchants Association next meets Wednesday, May 8 in the Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave.