La Jolla MAD gets City Council green light: Enhance La Jolla board meets

The Enhance La Jolla board aims to retain and restore the Village of La Jolla’s former charms above and beyond what City funds cover with the formation of a Maintenance Assessment District (MAD).
(La Jolla Light File)

The San Diego City Council voted July 16 to approve the 55 MADs throughout the city, including the new La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District (La Jolla MAD). The fees will then be included on the property tax bills mailed by the County in late September 2019.

The La Jolla MAD assessments will be approximately $87 annually for most residents within the District boundaries and fees for District businesses and non-profits are based on the footprint of the building.

The vote comes after San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer included more than $502,000 for the La Jolla MAD in his 2020 citywide budget, as the City is a property owner within the District.

The MAD for La Jolla was approved in November 2016 by a majority (weighted by property size and type) of the commercial and residential property owners within its boundaries.

The La Jolla-based nonprofit, Enhance La Jolla, will manage the MAD with authority to 1) “enhance” City-provided services including landscape maintenance, street and sidewalk cleaning, litter and graffiti abatement, plus additional trash collection and 2) privately fund and complete capital improvement projects in public spaces, such as upgrade trash cans, install benches, augment signage, make park improvements, increase public art and plant tree canopies on main thoroughfares.

The first services will be funded through the assessments collected, and the second through private donations.

Ahead of the City Council meeting, the Enhance La Jolla board met at La Jolla Riford Library on June 27 to begin planning the busy months ahead.

“It appears we are finally on our way to start our work, and we have a lot of work to do,” said board president Ed Witt. “It is our expectation that we should receive funding in the form of an advance from the City in mid-August. That advance should allow us to begin work for the MAD in October.”

But, he added, expectations of that work should be realistic.

“Over the last few weeks and months, I have talked to a lot of people about the MAD and Enhance La Jolla, and I can tell the community is pleased that we are finally getting a launch-pad. But I believe we have to manage expectations. People have said ‘you are going to fix this’ and ‘you are going to do that.’ It seems there are a lot of people who are expecting a lot of things.”

As such, Witt explained Enhance La Jolla has two functions; the first is to manage MAD, which is responsible for maintenance and clean-up. The monies that are obtained through the tax rolls by the property owners within the district can only be spent on items in the MAD contract. “That contract is very clear about what we can and cannot do as a MAD,” he said.

City of San Diego Economic Development representative Luis Ojeda said the passage of the MAD budget presents an “exciting time for La Jolla” and he noted the City is still required to provide baseline services, which will not go away. Instead, the MAD will provide additional services.

Additionally, Enhance La Jolla can manage and complete privately funded capital projects in the district and throughout La Jolla. The La Jolla Community Foundation is the fundraising arm for Enhance La Jolla and will support improvements through general membership funds and donations for special projects. Tax-deductible donations can then be granted to Enhance La Jolla, which is also a 501(c) (3) organization. Seed funding for Enhance La Jolla projects has come from the La Jolla Community Foundation.

“They have given us money in advance, paid for things ... without the La Jolla Community Foundation, there would not be a MAD,” Witt said. “We cannot thank you enough.”

As an example, Enhance La Jolla trustee, La Jolla Community Foundation member and La Jolla Light president Phyllis Pfeiffer explained the La Jolla Community Foundation commissioned the creation of a “Streetscape Plan” by urban architect Mark Steele to share with Enhance La Jolla. (See related commentary, page A23)

“The first phase is complete,” Pfeiffer said. “Mark Steele did a block-by-block rendering of CAD drawings and photographs of every single block within the MAD. The drawings mark where there are trees, what kind of trees they are; where the benches are; where the garbage cans are; where everything is.”

The second phase is bringing architects and designers together to create a plan for area improvements. “They are going to look at street trees, lights, sidewalks, benches, crosswalks, and we have directed them to (start with) Girard Avenue,” Pfeiffer continued. “When you look at the entire Village, it is huge and it’s going to take a lot of time and money.

“So we’ve decided that instead of doing one thing — such as putting benches or trees throughout the Village — we will focus on one street. Girard is the main street everyone sees when he or she comes to town, so we want to make a visible difference on that street! Once La Jollans see the results, it will make fundraising for the rest of The Village easier. We want to make a big splash.”

Witt added: “We will not over-promise, but we will promise as a board to do our best to enhance La Jolla.”

Enhance La Jolla’s next meeting has not been scheduled. To learn more, visit