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Village Merchants Association revisits idea of directional signs for La Jolla

A draft of La Jolla's possible directional signs, as presented to the La Jolla Village Merchants Association on May 13.
(Courtesy)

The Village Merchants Association is revisiting the idea of installing directional signs in La Jolla to help people find their way around.

The board has considered such signage proposals on and off since 2015.

LJVMA Executive Director Jodi Rudick said the association contracted Brad Elsass, vice president of strategic initiatives for ACE Parking, last year to conduct a parking study and produce suggestions for The Village.

“The need to have a good, walkable, easy-to-navigate village has never been more pressing,” Rudick said.

“We found there was an excess of capacity in off-street parking virtually every day of the year,” Elsass said. “But free parking is more attractive than paid parking. I think that’s a given, but parking should not be a barrier when it comes to visitation on nights and weekends.”

Having a two-phase plan would help get people around The Village and deter drivers from circling the streets looking for free parking, he said.

Phase 1 would include directional signs to landmarks, attractions and parking. Phase 2 would incorporate high-tech options such as digital marquees that note how many spaces are open in each pay parking lot.

The directional signs would be posted on streets in a similar design to what’s in place in communities such as Encinitas, downtown San Diego and Hillcrest.

The digital signs could be posted at key entry points to La Jolla, with addresses for nearby garages and indicating available parking.

A side-by-side perspective of what La Jolla parking lot signs could look like (left), compared with what they look like now.
A side-by-side perspective of what La Jolla parking lot signs could look like (left), compared with what they look like now.
(Courtesy)

The parking study is a first step toward new signage, Rudick said.

“We’ve been talking about this for quite some time and what has been missing is an actual plan that would be presentable for permitting,” she said.

During the board’s online meeting May 13, it unanimously passed a motion to create a plan and shop it to other local community groups for input and then come back with something formal and determine funding sources.

Local groups have been discussing this type of signage for five years. LJVMA voted in 2015 to pursue fundraising to pay for seven signs, but they never came about. Last year, the La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board heard a similar presentation (also from Elsass) about directional signs to local parking garages.

At the time, Elsass said CAPB could fund the launch of the program and then have the various garages continue with maintenance and repair costs.

Other LJVMA news

Restaurants and streets: As the city of San Diego rolls out its “slow streets” program, which would limit cars on select streets to give pedestrians more space to socially distance while walking, La Jollan Ed Witt suggested using the initiative to encourage restaurants to put tables beside the street to create an outdoor eating area.

Local groups are weighing in on San Diego’s “slow streets” initiative, making recommendations from La Jolla Shores to Bird Rock.

LJVMA has already suggested Wall Street between Ivanhoe and Girard avenues as a slow street candidate, which Witt said would be ideal for restaurants.

“There would be plenty of space to keep six feet between tables [outdoors],” he said. “I think it’s important that employees feel comfortable and want to go back to work and the customers feel comfortable eating at restaurants again. … This could be a big deal and I feel this approach is going to happen in other areas of the county. I think it would be great if La Jolla could be the first. I’d like to start something special here.”

Witt is president of Enhance La Jolla but said he was speaking solely as a resident.

Rudick said the conversation would continue at a future meeting.

Strategic plan revision: Citing the major changes that have taken place in The Village in light of the coronavirus pandemic, LJVMA President Brett Murphy said the board’s annual strategic plan has had to be heavily modified.

It now includes COVID-19 crisis management items such as preparing a draft budget based on a 30 percent decrease in revenue; merchant education programs such as assisting with coronavirus-related orders as they are released; and establishing socially distant design ideas for local businesses.

A revised plan was sent to board members and will be voted on at the June meeting.

Nonprofit status: LJVMA Vice President Julie Wright said the board is pursuing 501(c)3 status under its current 501(c)6 nonprofit status and is seeking input for what will become its mission statement.

“We have identified opportunities for funding that we are not eligible for as a 501(c)6, so we are investigating and working with a local attorney to help us establish a 501(c)3,” Wright said.

The mission might include businesses from across La Jolla, including The Shores and Bird Rock.

Anyone interested in giving feedback can email Rudick at jodi@lajollabythesea.com or Wright at jwright@wrightoncomm.com.

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association’s next meeting is at 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, via Zoom. Register for meetings at lajollabythesea.com. ◆