La Jolla merchants: new board, new hope for new year

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA) boasted an almost entirely new executive board during its final meeting of 2018 — on Nov. 14 at the La Jolla Library.

In addition to its previously sworn-in new executive director, Jodi Rudick, former treasurer Brett Murphy (La Jolla Sports Club) is now president, former board member Don Parks (La Jolla Light) is now vice president, new board member Kelli Metcalf (Granite Escrow & Settlement Services) is now treasurer, and new board member Julie Wright (Wright On Communications) is now secretary.

Each executive board member was elected unanimously, then sworn in — along with the other board members — by original LJVMA board member Claudette Berwin.“I love our new board members,” Rudick said during her first meeting in charge, noting her intention to purchase Murphy a “grand poobah” hat. (“I just want the gavel,” Murphy replied.)

In addition to Metcalf and Wright, LJVMA also added a third new board member, Tammy Tillack (National Geographic Fine Art Galleries), whom Rudick reported was absent due to a family illness. This gives LJVMA a full board.

Christmas money!

During his treasurer’s report, Murphy announced a surplus of $20,000 from cutting expenses this year — largely from going so many months without an executive director — which needs to be spent by March 2019.

“That’s great news to have that 20k, let’s do something with it,” Murphy said, promising that he and Rudick have “a lot of cool ideas” they will develop.

Murphy also described the results of an audit the City conducts each year of LJVMA as “flying colors.”

Business Walk

Elizabeth Studebaker, from the City’s economic development department, appeared before the board to solicit 40 volunteers for the La Jolla Business Walk, 1:30-6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5. The event is a strategic campaign to touch base with every merchant in The Village and, if they’re interested, sign them up to LJVMA.

“It’s more of a survey of how’s business,” said Studebaker, “What do you love about La Jolla? What can be better? Did you know about these programs?”

Studebaker — who has conducted business walks quarterly, for years, in business districts throughout San Diego — said they go a long way toward making shopowners “feel they always have direct contact” with their merchants association. She suggested sending out, or handing out, postcards to merchants, alerting them to the upcoming in-person visit.

“I think people under-appreciate how emotionally fulfilling it is to walk door to door and identify issues for the merchants,” Studebaker said. “It’s really valuable for us and the City.”

Alley closure

Construction company RGB Group requested and received a letter of support for a one-day alley closure — which took place Monday, Nov. 19 — to facilitate construction of a mixed-use building at 7844 Herschel Ave. RGB said the closure would only affect a few stores — including Jersey Mike’s Subs, Belle Sirene Salon and Lululemon, all of whom it said “have nothing against it.”

The board voted unanimously on a motion to write a letter of approval “with notice provided to the local businesses three or four days ahead of time.”

This prompted a question by Studebaker, who was also on hand to administer Brown Act training to the new board members following the meeting. Studebaker wondered why such approvals need to go through a business improvement district such as LJVMA, since such permits are all approved by City planning groups, whose job it is to notify adjacent property owners.

“Procedurally, the impacted businesses are required to be notified by an applicant anyway,” Studebaker said. “And, depending on the timing, waiting (for approval from a monthly meeting) could slow somebody down.”

Studebaker eventually stood down, however, noting that she was neither an expert in permitting nor in how La Jolla historically handles its business.

Following the meeting, board member Robert Mackey turned to Rudick to announce: “I want to thank you for all your hard work,” which was followed by a standing ovation and some watery eyes.

Also at LJVMA…

  • There will be no exclusive LJVMA holiday party this year. However, the merchants will sponsor a holiday mixer, along with BizX, 5-9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12 at CAVU Brewery & Restaurant, 7536 Fay Ave.
  • A session was announced for 3-6 p.m. that same day, at the Riford Library, to create the LJVMA 2019 strategic plan. All LJVMA members are invited to attend and serve on committees.
  • Shift San Diego provided information about construction projects in the Golden Triangle.
  • An offer was made by Dominic’s Table to host an upcoming merchants mixer. No date was set.
  • Community activist Phyllis Minnick invited the board and attendees to Children’s Pool, 1-3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, to view the grand opening of her Children’s Pool Plaza Project.

— La Jolla Village Merchants Association next meets at 3 p.m Wed., Jan. 9 at the Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave.