La Jolla Village Merchants elect new president, announce dockless bike news

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA) has a new president. Board member Alisha Hawrylyszyn Frank, proprietor of Fiercely Optimistic at 1237 Prospect St., was unanimously elected to fill the position vacated by James Niebling during the organization’s May 9 meeting at the Riford Library.

“I humbly accept this position — especially as the first female,” Hawrylyszyn Frank said. “I’m going to enthusiastically, and with a lot of energy, try and execute this.”

Hawrylyszyn Frank, who is a life coach, Reiki master and yoga instructor, ended the meeting by declaring, “Namaste,” a Hindu greeting (meaning “I bow to you”) traditionally used to end yoga practices.The board also unanimously elected Kipp Williams, attorney with Blanchard Krasner & French, to fill Niebling’s vacant board seat through October, after which he will need to run if he wishes to retain his seat.

Dockless bikes update

Executive director Sheila Fortune toned down the hostility she and most board members displayed during April’s meeting towards reps of four dockless bike companies. She explained that she has attended many meetings on the subject since — even one downtown where an attendee rode his Bird scooter right up to the conference room — and, she said, “the bottom line is that bikes are here, there are going to be more, and we can figure out how we can proactively welcome them.”

Fortune floated, and the board passed, a motion to “gather information about dockless bikes and move forward” with a plan that lacked many specifics and that she said would take months, if not years, to get right.

“It gets to move the conversation forward so we can at least try to control it,” Fortune said.

LJVMA passed the resolution, Fortune revealed, in part because it refused to sign the dockless-bike resolution crafted by Town Council and passed around to the community groups “because it was giving Town Council the singular voice to speak for everyone and we’re not givng that away,” Fortune said.Fortune also revealed the the dockless bike company ofo has agreed to assume liability for injuries or deaths suffered while riders rent their vehicles in The Village.

“They have gone to their insurance companies and their legal authorities and created a contract where they will cover us on their insurance,” Fortune said.

So far, ofo is the only dockless company to address a single one of the LJVMA’s many concerns about the new tech that has invaded San Diego since rolling out in February.

Fortune said that her next step was to respond to a City request to pinpoint a minimum of 10 spaces where La Jolla would like to see either bike racks, painted corrals or parking spots made available for dockless bikes and scooters. Fortune said which solution is still be up for discussion, but that the spaces for the solution would likely be in existing parking spaces adjacent to handicapped parking spaces.

“They’re willing to adjust their apps and they have visual and virtual things where they can show where spaces are, but we have to determine what’s best for our Village,” she said, adding that she has “a big map of the City” and will decide on the spots “in the next couple of weeks.”

Fortune also mentioned that she would fight for an associate membership fee to be collected on behalf of the LJVMA for every bike used on Village streets.“Treat them like any merchant who is an associate member,” she said. “They would pay on a sliding scale, anywhere from $350 to a couple thousand depending on their size and what they’re doing to business.”

In other LJVMA news:

Following a presentation by Community Choice Energy representative Tyson Siegele, LJVMA passed a motion to send a letter urging City Council members, and Mayor Faulconer, to allow the nonprofit organization to provide competition to San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) within City limits. Community Choice purchases electricity on the open market — through existing carriers or from rooftop solar customers — and redistributes it to customers. But it needs a majority vote from City Council to begin operations in San Diego. The hope is that the service would be cheaper than SDG&E’s, which Siegele could not guarantee but said was “most likely” the case.

Finally, the next Merchant Mixer will be held 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 19 in the courtyard of La Jolla Sports Club at 7825 Fay Ave., the gym owned by LJVMA treasurer Brett Murphy.

La Jolla Village Merchants Association next meets 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 13 in the La Jolla Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave.