Merchants Association sits new board, plans for holidays


December will be a busy month for the La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA). Having sat nine new board members during its Nov. 9 meeting at La Jolla Riford Library, the board will next hold a strategic planning meeting to discuss the upcoming year, and oversee the installation of Village holiday decorations.

At the opening of the November meeting, LJVMA executive director Sheila Fortune swore in seven of the 10 newly elected members: Laurnie Durisoe, Xochitl Cerda, Carla Parra, Lori Bolton, Alisha Frank, Jamie Dickerson and Tiffany Phillips. Billy Borja was not in attendance, and Krista Baroudi and James Niebling were re-elected and did not need swearing-in.

James Niebling of Esteban Interiors was elected LJVMA president and will succeed Claude Anthony Marengo. Brett Murphy was elected vice-president, Baroudi was elected secretary and newcomer Dickerson (who has already been assisting LJVMA with new business openings) was elected treasurer.

“At our strategic planning meeting in December we will determine the projects the board will pursue in 2017,” Niebling said. “It’s where we come together as a group, talk about opportunities in La Jolla, what our ideas are and what we want to accomplish. Then we pare that down to three or four big ideas that we will work on throughout the year. We’ll set goals that will filter into those initiatives.

“Following the meet-the-candidates meeting we had, I think there are some great ideas and contributions here. There are varied skill sets that are going to set us up for a great year.”

Following the strategic planning meeting, some LJVMA trustees will be appointed to La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation and Planned District Ordinance advisory boards. With Murphy migrating to the vice-president role, a new block captain chair will also be appointed.

Also in December, the board will host its third annual Festival of Lights contest. “In the last few years, we’ve challenged businesses in different categories (small retail, large retail, office, hotel, small restaurant, large restaurant, etc.) to seasonally decorate their windows. People had the chance to vote for their favorites on social media. We’re looking to do that again, with some changes,” Fortune said.

Chiefly, the addition of photography. Niebling explained, “The challenge for some businesses is that they don’t have windows to dress or decorate. So this year, if someone wants to take a picture of something that shows how they feel about the holidays in La Jolla, that would be their submission to the contest.”

The contest runs from after Thanksgiving until the New Year, and more information will be distributed via email and online at As an incentive, the winner will receive a free, sponsored holiday banner for one month.

Introduced in October, the new holiday banner program involves replacing the “everyday” banners with LJVMA promotional messages on them with holiday-inspired ones during December.

There are three sponsorship levels: Level A, which includes three banners per month for three months, including one on Torrey Pines Road at a cost of $2,880; Level B, which includes one banner for three months for $1,000; and Level C, which includes one banner for one month in the Village for $450. Sponsorship is marked by a tag on the eight-foot banner bearing the business name. Organizations can sponsor one or more banners.

“We have some poles open in November, so the first 10 people that sign up to sponsor a holiday banner in December will get the rest of November for free,” Niebling offered.

Proceeds from the program go to beautifying and improving the Village streets and sidewalks.

Other familiar LJVMA-sponsored holiday décor will return, such as the Season’s Greetings sign on the pedestrian bridge over La Jolla Parkway; a shooting star, gold bows, or pine-bow garland on streetlamps though the Village; and other electrified decoration down Girard Avenue.

— LJVMA meets 3 p.m. second Wednesdays at La Jolla’s Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave.