Enhance La Jolla to finally start enhancing La Jolla

Enhance La Jolla board members John Unbewust, Nancy Warwick, Phyllis Pfeiffer, Andy Nelson, Ed Witt, Kathryn Kanjo, Ruth Yansick and Joe LaCava meet at the La Jolla Riford Library on Sept. 19.

Our tarnished Jewel is about to be polished. Starting Oct. 1 — after years of talk about what can be done to supplement the City’s bare-bones maintenance services — Enhance La Jolla will finally take action in a way that most residents should notice.

In its third meeting since re-emerging from a two-year legal battle to establish the La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District (MAD), Enhance La Jolla announced Sept. 19 that two people will pick up litter in The Village, seven days a week, on a permanent basis. One will ride in a golf cart, the other in a pickup truck. Both will wear Enhance La Jolla vests.

The vendor contract, with Nissho of California, was approved at the meeting for $118,000 per year. In addition to litter control, the Nissho contract will provide supplemental trash collection — initially on Saturdays and Sundays, with opportunities to increase service.

Also approved was another contract with Nissho to provide landscape maintenance ($195,000 annually), and Urban Corps of San Diego County’s contract to power-wash sidewalks and trash receptacles once a year for $50,000. More power-washings may occur as added funds become available.

Enhance La Jolla is a nonprofit board comprised of local property owners in the District and La Jolla civic leaders, which was created by the La Jolla Community Foundation (LJCF) to oversee the La Jolla MAD operations. Its annual budget is $530,000, from assessments collected through residential property taxes.

When board member Nancy Warwick asked what the options were should any of the vendors not live up to expectations, MAD general manager John Unbewust replied: “I fully expect to work with their supervisors. If they want to be paid, they do it according to what the contract requires. I have to approve it or they aren’t going to get paid. It’s as simple as that.”

Board president Ed Witt added: “We’re going to learn a lot as we go. We might mix things around.”

Community Foundation report

Also at the meeting, LJCF — a philanthropic organization affiliated with the San Diego Foundation — announced the completion of Phase 1 of its Streetscape Plan: a full inventory of existing conditions in the MAD, including sidewalks, street trees, benches, trash receptacles and sidewalks.

The committee will now focus on revamping Girard Avenue from Silverado to Prospect streets and “The Dip.”

The Streetscape Plan is to remake the upper part of Prospect — between Girard and Herschel Avenue — into a pedestrian plaza including new street trees, lighting, sidewalk improvements, benches and crosswalks. (The lower part of Prospect would switch from one- to two-way traffic, with lost parking replaced by diagonal parking on Girard between Prospect and Coast Boulevard.)

“We all agree that The Dip will be transformative,” said Enhance La Jolla board member Phyllis Pfeiffer, who is also LJCF’s founding director and president and general manager of La Jolla Light. “It will be a big statement.”

Pfeiffer said the Foundation decided to focus its energy on something large, impactful and “spectacular.”

“We don’t want to just spend money and do things piecemeal,” she said “We don’t want to just put new benches throughout The Village, because it’s not going to have that wow factor. We want to do something that people in the community will see it and say they love it.”

The Streetscape committee — assembled by architect Mark Steele of the M.W. Steele Group for work funded by a $75,000 grant from LJCF — includes respected architects Jennifer Luce, Jim Alcorn and Paul Buss, and landscape architects Todd Fry and Jennifer Phelps.

Pfeiffer said that Alcorn first submitted plans for a redesign of The Dip 28 years ago.

“He went to all the property owners,” she said. “The drawings have gone through the City, but as of yet, there’s no money (to execute the plan).”

Pfeiffer estimated the Streetscape construction pricetag at $10 million, after which LJCF would shift its focus to other areas of The Village that could benefit most from a revamp.

Complete drawings and models are expected in October. The first group to see the drawings will be LJCF at its early November meeting. (A date has not yet been set.)

“Then we will meet with community groups for input or comment,” Pfeiffer said. “It’s going to take a village to do this, and it’s going to take a lot of money.”

Adjusting expectations

During his report, board president Witt emphasized the importance of setting proper expectations for what Enhance La Jolla can accomplish.

“I had dinner the other day and the first words out of a friend’s mouth were, ‘Are you going to fix the 5G towers?’ ” he said.

Witt said the MAD doesn’t have enough money to accomplish even some of its own limited goals.

“Really, what needs to be done is free stuff, which has a lot to do with retail owners and property owners,” he said. “We need people who live and work in the MAD to pay close attention not only to the inside of their operations but to the outside ... I would hope that when we power-wash the front of someone’s property, they take pride in that and do their best to keep it up, knowing we won’t be back for another year.”

Responding from the audience, La Jolla Village Merchants Association executive director Jodi Rudick advised caution in how and even whether this message is communicated.

“I’ve gotten pushback,” she said. “Merchants are saying, ‘I thought we were paying more for this.’ We want to be very careful so everybody feels like they’re getting their money’s worth. We want to be cautious about how we approach merchants about doing additional things.”

Flag Days

During public comment, La Jolla Rotary Club president Charles Hartford proposed that his organization erect about 50 flags on the streets during every major military-relevant holiday, starting with Girard Avenue and “maybe some on Prospect Street.”

The program would be similar to one in Coronado (and Point Loma). However, Coronado’s flags are planted into grass, which is not a feature of La Jolla’s main streets. So Hartford sought Enhance La Jolla’s permission to drill 7-inch-deep, 1.5-inch-wide holes into the concrete sidewalks, which would then be capped in a way that poses no tripping hazard. The flags would be stored by the Rotary Club.

“Zero money out of our pocket?” Witt asked. Hartford confirmed that private Rotary donations would fund everything.

“I have an office in Coronado,” said Enhance La Jolla treasurer Andy Nelson, “and this project is well-received.”

However, no action was taken, since the project was not on the meeting’s agenda.

Also at Enhance La Jolla ...

Meet City managers: Luis Ojeda, community and business development manager for the City, notified the group of a meeting 11 a.m. Sept. 30 downtown, in which specifics about the MAD budget and monetary deposits would be discussed. “Anyone from the board is welcome to attend to meet managers of different departments of the City,” he said.

Board meeting times set: Enhance La Jolla voted to meet 4 p.m. Jan. 16, March 19, June 18 and Sept. 17, 2020, with June 18 as the annual meeting. No other meeting is scheduled for 2019. Meetings are open to the public and held at the library, 7555 Draper Ave.

Annual report, statement and audit scuttled: The board voted to waive the requirement for an annual report, since the corporation received less than $25,000 in gross receipts during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. The board also voted to waive the requirement for an annual statement, since no transactions or indemnifications were incurred during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. It further voted to waive the requirement for a financial audit, since the corporation did not receive or accrue gross revenue of $2 million or more during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019.

— Enhance La Jolla next meets 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2020 at the La Jolla Library, 7555 Draper Ave.