La Jolla Village Merchants Association to pursue midweek ‘public market’ on Wall Street

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association held its June 9 meeting as an online/in-person hybrid.
The La Jolla Village Merchants Association held its June 9 meeting as an online/in-person hybrid, with some attending via Zoom and others in the open-air courtyard of the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association held its first in-person meeting in 15 months June 9 in the open-air courtyard of the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center. The hybrid meeting had some participants patched in via Zoom.

Given that the in-person meeting was the first since the COVID-19 pandemic sent all meetings online to deter gatherings, it seemed appropriate for the board to take up two other firsts: the possibility of The Village’s first weekly afternoon street fair on Wall Street, and the board potentially assuming management of the local memorial bench program.

Public market/street fair concept

Using a farmers market-type setup as a guide, the board voted to start the request-for-proposal process to establish a weekly public market-type event on Wall Street, likely on Thursday afternoons.

The idea is that those who work in The Village could stay and shop after work, or visitors could make Thursday the first day of a long weekend in La Jolla.

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association is taking a step back from the idea to close Wall Street to vehicles and create a pedestrian plaza, so it can fully flesh out a longer-term plan for the space.

To avoid conflicting with the farmers market that takes place on the La Jolla Elementary School campus on Sundays, LJVMA Executive Director Jodi Rudick said she wanted to call this event a “public market” with a street fair feel.

“When COVID hit us, we were looking at where we had lost revenue and where we could amplify revenue,” Rudick said. “We realized almost every community with a business improvement district has a farmers market. We have a wonderful farmers market, but it is not part of our business district [jurisdiction]. It is a very easy and very accepted way to energize a space, and through everything we have been through in the last year, farmers markets were one of the first things the governor recognized we needed in our communities.”

Using the Ocean Beach Farmers Market as a model, plans would include closing Wall Street to vehicles one afternoon a week and allowing booths to be set up with produce, crafts, artisans, demonstrations from local merchants and entertainment.

“We can’t necessarily compete with Amazon in terms of buying a commodity, but what Amazon can’t touch is our ability to provide an experience. And this is an opportunity to create an experience,” Rudick said.

She intends to present to the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board and La Jolla Community Planning Association in coming weeks as more information becomes available.

The plan comes as other groups look at potential uses for Wall Street as a pedestrian plaza and at events that could take place in the plaza.

Memorial benches

LJVMA President Cody Decker said the board had been approached by the La Jolla Town Foundation, the group that manages the memorial bench program, to see if the board can step in and redevelop it.

“We have something like 115 benches that have a plaque on them because a family member or organization made a donation in memory of someone,” Decker said. “Every bench means something to someone, and every memory is important to our Village.”

He successfully sought approval to pursue the concept, continue the conversation and take it back to the board.

Ed Witt, president of Enhance La Jolla, which administers The Village’s Maintenance Assessment District, said Enhance La Jolla is “willing and capable” of maintaining benches in the district once they are installed. “The benches that are in the public right of way, when we have the opportunity and the funds, we will refinish them,” he said.

Other LJVMA news

Two new board members: Ciao Ciao Piadina co-owner Lauren Turton and Realtor Kelli Metcalf were sworn in as the two newest board members. They nominated themselves for vacant board seats last month.

LJVMA President Cody Decker swears in new board members Lauren Turton (left) and Kelli Metcalf.
La Jolla Village Merchants Association President Cody Decker swears in new board members Lauren Turton (left) and Kelli Metcalf.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Compliance plan: The board reaffirmed its commitment to a “compliance plan” required by the city of San Diego that includes ratifying a strategic plan every year, having new members sign a conflict-of-interest statement, attending anti-harassment training and more.

Where LJVMA is “ahead of the curve,” Rudick said, is in the “diversity and inclusion” portion of the compliance plan. “We have made diversity and inclusiveness part of our organization’s purpose,” she said, including bringing on a diversity consultant who authored a Statement of Diversity that was incorporated into LJVMA’s annual strategic plan.

“We want to do better and be more inclusive,” Rudick said. “I want to make sure we are reaching out to those that might not be represented in our decision-making process and keep reaching out over and over again.”

Next meeting: The La Jolla Village Merchants Association’s next meeting also will likely be a hybrid with in-person and online attendance options. A location has not been confirmed, but the meeting will begin at 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 14. Learn more at ◆