La Jolla MAD hits Village improvements stride

Enhance La Jolla members Joe LaCava, John Unbewust, Andy Nelson, George Hauer, Jonathan Lipsky, Ed Witt, David Marino, Nancy Warwick and Leon Kassel debate an issue at the board’s Feb. 13 meeting in the library.

The extremely heavy lifting is over for the La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District (MAD). At its Feb. 13 meeting at the Riford Library, La Jolla MAD manager John Unbewust reported to the Enhance La Jolla oversight board that all three prongs of The Village maintenance program — power-washing, landscaping and litter control — were operating at peak efficiency and his group was ready to tackle additional responsibilities. (See related report, page A10)

“After five months of operations, we’ve made significant headway toward getting toward a normal flow of maintenance activity,” he said.

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

In response to Unbewust’s glowing report, the board voted unanimously to increase the frequency of power-washing the streets and trash cans of Zone 1 from once a year to six times per year.

Contractor Urban Corps of San Diego County — which charges $50,000 for each complete power wash — has completed one cycle of Zone 1 and two of Girard Avenue, working between midnight and 8 a.m.

For the first month or two, Unbewust reported, its work was difficult.

“You could almost say, ‘Where do we start?’ he said, explaining that it took a crew eight hours just to clean 30 feet of sidewalk in front of BevMo, 844 Pearl St., which was coated in decades of baked-in grease and grime.

Another humming operation is the private litter-control company that removes 600 pounds of trash, tree limbs and leaves from The Village every week.

“I, for one, have not seen an overflowing trash can in several months,” Unbewust said, “although this summer will be the true test.”

Working five days a week, that contractor was so efficient, Wednesdays have now been freed for it to pick up dog waste, and contracts have also been modified to accommodate sidewalk pedestrian-ramp cleaning after every rainstorm.

As for landscaping, only some of The Village’s palm trees have been trimmed because the contractor’s equipment couldn’t reach the tallest ones, Unbewust reported. However, the City forester trims all palm trees every two years and is scheduled to do so sometime in 2020. (Unbewust complimented the forester for quickly responding to a eucalyptus tree limb that dangled precipitously in recent weeks over the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.)

Capping his report, Unbewust said about 15 of 50 concrete trash receptacles have been painted over, with another 21 to be completed inside three months.

Million-dollar donation

Treasurer Andy Nelson reported that a $1 million donation toward The Village Streetscape Plan came from Jack McGrory’s wife, Una Davis.

Board president Ed Witt added: “The Streetscape Plan is going to take some time — even if it was approved and funded today, and it’s not. In the meantime, Enhance La Jolla needs to take place. We do have the funding to do it, and we want to make sure we use all the funding that’s allotted us to enhance La Jolla.

A motion to refinish the existing public wood benches, and to install mid-bench arm rests where needed, was passed unanimously. The cost will be $1,000 per bench, with as little as $500 for multiple benches.

Witt proposed walking The Village and removing all magazine and newspaper racks that are rusted out and painted with graffiti: “I think this is something we should take a good look at. I always wanted to be a cowboy. This will be my corral.”

District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry’s rep Steve Hadley interrupted to inform him that such action would violate the law. “The City has only so much it can do to regulate what is considered free speech on public property,” he said.

The board agreed to check which newsstands were permitted for 2019 — since 2020 permits haven’t been issued — and possibly only remove the delinquent ones if they’re unsightly. “I think its safe to say that the vast majority of these racks are not in the position of enhancing La Jolla,” Witt said.

Doggie stations curbed

A proposal for doggie stations to be purchased and installed, using money from a private sponsor, was tabled to a future meeting. (The MAD would be responsible for emptying the baskets at these stations and replacing the refuse bags.)

Every board member who spoke approved of the idea. However, Unbewust said he wanted to “see how the merchants feel about having these outside their doors.” Witt replied that he’d like to have the stations set up by tourist season.

Also at Enhance La Jolla …

The board unanimously voted to form a nominating and elections committee — chaired by Kathryn Kanjo — to “draft reasonable procedures to nominate and elect board members.” It also unanimously voted to form an audit committee, chaired by Peter Wagner, that audits the group’s financials.

The board unanimously voted to spend money to update its website.

Linda Shaw of The Village Garden Club offered to provide trees, should there be a need. She said the club recently expanded its program beyond just jacarandas.

The MAD recently received its second payment of $77,000 so, Nelson said: “We have enough to continue on for the next few months.”

— The Enhance La Jolla board next meets 4 p.m. Thursday, March 19 in the Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave.