Parks & Beaches board weighs Concours d’Elegance benefits

Partial overview of the 2017 La Jolla Concours d’Elegance, April 9 at Scripps Park

This year’s La Jolla Concours d’Elegance car show drew a record number of attendees to La Jolla the weekend of April 7-9, for an exclusive weekend of car viewing and luxury events around Scripps Park. For some La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJP&B) members, that’s not exactly a good thing.

During its April 24 meeting at La Jolla Rec Center, the board discussed the event, including its phenomenal growth and the fact that the Concours requires a six-foot fence around the park. Organizer Michael Dorvillier was in attendance to answer questions.

The 13th annual event featured a Rolls-Royce Contemporary Classic cocktail party at The LOT Friday night, a Tour of Cars with 85 vehicles Saturday morning between Symbolic motorcars and La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, a Bentley Motors VIP Reception Saturday night (at which 1,000 people were in attendance), the all-day ticketed car show at Scripps Park and concurrent Motorcar Classic, where 90 cars lined Coast Boulevard for the free public viewing on Sunday.

“It seems to me the Concours d’Elegance has gotten so big, it needs to look for another venue. I went down to the park on Saturday and the whole thing was screened out. You can’t see the grass, you can’t see the ocean. It’s becoming such an exclusive event that the public has been screened out of a public area,” said LJP&B member Mary Ellen Morgan.

“The park is being exploited and we lived with it (in years past) when people could kind of see the cars, the grass and the ocean. But now it is too big.”

Member Debbie Beacham agreed. “What we have now is a huge amount of people at such a large event. We knew this event was going to grow and we’ve asked (organizers) about a growth management plan and now we … need to look at growth management and possibly scale it back.”

Among the issues presented, Beacham reported a lack of restroom facilities for the number of people expected. Portable toilets were brought in for the event, but only to the inside of the fenced-off area reserved for those who paid the entry fee. People who wanted to see the cars along Coast Boulevard used the public restroom facility at Scripps Park.

However, at one point, the park restrooms backed up, causing a “sewage spill.” LJP&B member Bill Robbins said because the system is old and relies on a pump (coupled with the fact that large amounts of people and/or those unfamiliar with what they could and could not flush), the restroom backed up. However, plans are underway to replace the restroom facilities down the line.

Proving the response to the event and its size are mixed, LJP&B member Tom Brady applauded the event and said it “provided notoriety for The Village.”

La Jolla Village Merchants Association executive director Sheila Fortune added that Concours is a boon for businesses. “The restaurants were full and doing well, and the hotels were booked. This is one day a year that we have this kind of turnout in The Village, and the merchants really benefit from this event,” she said.

Further, Dorvillier said organizers “leave the park in better shape than we find it,” and part of the event protocol is extensive cleanup before and after the car show. He produced a cleaning bill that included: emptying trash cans, sweeping the street, de-magnetizing the entire park for metal fragments and hand raking the grass.

Dorvillier added that the event brings in out-of-town guests, who by staying in La Jolla hotels, pay into the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) that goes to the City’s general fund. “That adds value that allows us to go to the City for much-needed funds,” he said.

Locally, 100 percent of net proceeds are donated to the La Jolla Historical Society, which, in turn, gives smaller donations to other beneficiaries such as the Monarch School. Dorvillier said the numbers are still coming in, but the Concours is expected to have raised around $80,000.

The event has a ticket promotion through which purchasers can use a code to get $5 off their ticket cost, and designate a $10 donation to one of the event charities. LJP&B had a code, but no one used it this year.

Nevertheless, Dorvillier donated $500 to the LJP&B board, which Morgan scoffed at and called “a bribe.”

Dorvillier said he would return in the coming months to request support for the 2018 Concours, and would be available to board members in the interim to answer questions.

— La Jolla Parks & Beaches next meets 4 p.m. Monday, May 22 at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.