Exploring a new City policy, the La Jolla Parks & Beaches (LJP&B) board discussed whether it should split into two groups at its meeting March 20 at the Rec Center. It will continue to debate the issue at its the next meeting.
The LJP&B role is currently two-fold: 1) it makes recommendations on park and beach issues, including issuing opinions to the City and writing letters to the California Coastal Commission; and 2) it raises funds and shepherds public-improvement projects.
At the March meeting, for example, acting in its advisory role, the board voted to send a letter to the Coastal Commission opposing a plan to continue to close Children’s Pool during harbor seal pupping season.
Past projects the board helped implement (or are working on) include the Children’s Pool Plaza, which improved the pedestrian and viewing area above the beach; the Fay Avenue Bike Path extension project, cleaning up the pedestrian area on the path; the Bike Rack project to install La Jolla-branded racks throughout town; and the Scripps Park Pavilion project, to replace the restroom facility above La Jolla Cove.
However, the City has a new policy pertaining to recreation councils, which may apply to LJP&B. The policy requires rec councils that collect fees for permits or classes at rec centers, as well as private donations, to have separate boards and separate funds. LJP&B collects donations for projects as a 501(c)3 non-profit board, but not fees, leaving some unsure of whether they should divide into two boards.
LJP&B chair Ann Dynes said one option would be to split into two boards with two meetings: a publicly-noticed meeting to air community concerns and take care of public business; then a second, separate “foundation meeting” to address bills that need to be paid for private projects. Another option would be to stay as one board, with one meeting, as they have been for more than 30 years.
Trustee Ken Hunrichs leaned toward the second option, stating: “We don’t collect money like Rec Center groups do and we are not the same things as those groups. We are not the problem the City is trying to fix. The money donated to us as a 501(c)3 is completely separate.”
But, with that option, trustee Jane Reldan asked: “So we would have no role as an advisory group?”
Trustee Dan Allen opined: “For our collective and individual sanity, we should make an effort to stay as (one board).”
However, trustee Patrick Ahern said boards across the City were changing their bylaws to be more uniform and it was “appropriate to have our bylaws be in line with those of other similar planning groups” and split into two. Should the LJP&B board divide into two, each would need to create a new set of bylaws.
Advocating for maintaining LJP&B’s advisory role, whether as one board or two, Dynes said: “On some level, the most important work of this body is the conduit we are for community input and the confidence the City has in us ... they know when we say something, it has merit.”
Board member Phyllis Minick added: “And the reputation we have built over the years for giving advice to the City representative of the community!”
She asked that, before any action be taken, a City rep come out to “speak about this policy, why this change is happening and what it’s aimed at, because we haven’t gotten any information about it.”
Dynes noted that a City rep had been making the rounds to explain the policy, and would she pursue having the rep attend a future LJP&B meeting.
The board formerly known as La Jolla Parks & Recreation, Inc. had to make a similar change in line with the City policy in 2018.
It now operates as two groups with the same membership: The La Jolla Recreation Advisory Group, which is an advisory group to the City on matters pertaining to the La Jolla Rec Center; and the 501(c)3 arm that is overseeing the playground renovation and collecting donations to implement it.
“This is going to be an important thing for us to address,” Dynes concluded.
Trustee Melinda Merryweather added: “It’s huge.”
— Next month’s meeting is set for 4 p.m. Monday April 22 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. lajollaparksbeaches.org