BADGE COMPANY: La Jolla Town Council questions and honors fire and police


La Jolla Town Council’s (LJTC) Oct. 11 meeting at the La Jolla Rec Center was studded with brass — including Northern Division captain Tina Williams and six members of her department, San Diego Fire & Rescue chief Colin Stowell and new San Diego lifeguard chief James Gartland.

The meeting was dedicated to a forum on public safety, moderated by firefighter Aaron Brennan, during which citizens asked police officers and firefighters to clarify policies and advise them to deal with certain situations — especially involving La Jolla’s homeless population.

Lt. Charles Lara corrected a common misperception — that feeling threatened by homeless people does not warrant dialing 911.

“If you’re having an issue with a person and you believe you are imperiled, that’s a 911 call,” he said. “Describe that detail with specificity — is he clenching his teeth, getting close to making me feel bodily afraid? That person may be psychotic, may be having a mental breakdown, and may have to be evaluated.”

Lara also suggested trying to put homeless people in touch with the police’s Homeless Outreach Team at (619) 446-1010.

“If you see a person experiencing homelessness, if you feel safe, you can offer them that phone number,” he said. “You’d be surprised how many people experiencing homelessness have cell phones.”

LJTC Crime Watch Committee chair Cynthia Chasan asked whether citizens can find themselves in trouble for making a homeless person he or she feels threatened by. (Lara replied: “How about offline, we can talk?”)

It was the first public meeting Gartland spoke at in La Jolla after officially dropping the “interim” from his title in late September.

“I love La Jolla,” he said. “I worked up here for about nine years.”

Gartland reported more than 9,000 rescues so far in 2018, adding that this is “a five-year high and we are on track to break any record.”

District 1 Council member Barbara Bry also addressed the forum, outlining her own legislative public-safety goals that included stepped-up brush-clearing to avoid situations such as the two fires this summer in La Jolla’s canyons.

She also promised to deliver to Mayor Kevin Faulconer guidelines on how to move forward on the dockless bikes and scooters issue.

“I think they need to be regulated, they need to pay fees,” Bry said. “There are no rules right now, and that is not a good thing for any of us.”

Later, La Jolla resident Bill Robbins complained about the “dern bikes” and scooters he’s still regularly pulling out of the Pacific — even after some of the bike companies seem to go out of business.

“They’re a dangerous thing,” Robbins said. “Yes, Barbara’s working on an ordinance, but I really think with the resources you have, you can find a way to declare them a public nuisance and have them picked up … Work out a system with the City attorney where they have so many days to get them out and or they get fined a hundred dollars a day.”

The forum was preceded by commendations presented to the three lifeguards — James Earnest, Aaron Estess and Shane McIntyre — who saved a Texas tourist on June 9. (Ian Black, 35, was swimming at WindanSea when high surf and strong rip currents took him under.)

The lifeguards were actually honored four separate times — by Bry, by Town Council president Ann Kerr Bache, and by reps of state senator Toni Atkins and U.S congressman Scott Peters.

Also at Town Council

  • The entertainment at the Rec Center that normally follows the annual La Jolla Christmas Parade — including the tree-lighting ceremony — has been scrapped this year, it was announced, in favor of a pre-parade celebration. That will occur from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2 at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library at 1008 Wall St. (Wall Street will be “a little bit blocked off,” said Town Council trustee Ron Jones.) The parade will follow its usual route beginning at 1:30 p.m.
  • Next month’s Town Council meeting will feature a forum on drones, it was announced.

— La Jolla Town Council next meets 5:30 p.m. Thusday, Nov. 8 at La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St.