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La Jolla Shores businesses working to make closure on Avenida de la Playa permanent

Merchants on Avenida de la Playa are forming a business association to further efforts to keep outdoor dining permanently.
Merchants on Avenida de la Playa are forming a business association to further efforts to keep their outdoor dining permanently.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

La Jolla Shores Association board member Phil Wise, who facilitated the inception and continuation of an outdoor dining program in The Shores that has closed one block of Avenida de la Playa to vehicle traffic to allow restaurants to place tables on the street, said participating restaurateurs are pursuing a permanent street closure with the city of San Diego.

LJSA sponsored the original street closure and outdoor dining permit through the city’s Special Events & Filming Department, which expires Dec. 30 but is expected to be extended through July 13, 2022, when similar outdoor dining permits through the city’s Development Services Department are set to expire.

The effort to make The Shores’ program permanent would no longer be led by LJSA; instead, merchants along Avenida de la Playa are forming their own association. “It’s going to be called La Jolla Shores Business Association,” Wise said at the June 9 LJSA meeting.

The business association, once created, would not only lead the endeavor to make the one-block street closure permanent but also would “do additional improvements from La Jolla Shores Drive all the way down to the Pacific Ocean,” he said.

Any action taken by the business association would be communicated to LJSA, Wise said, so the latter “can be of assistance to the business group, should they run into any obstacles.”

Darren Moore, owner of Shore Rider Bar and Dough Mama Pizzeria on Avenida de la Playa, said he has “filed articles of incorporation with the California secretary of state under a nonprofit, public benefit corporation” for the business association and is trying to communicate his efforts to more local merchants “to be more inclusive of everyone on the block.”

“All the merchants on the block are very excited to see how the street could get closed,” Moore said. He added that the group hopes to stay connected with Wise to work with LJSA on the closure effort.

“The general consensus from the merchants … is they just want to make La Jolla Shores the most beautiful, prosperous place there can be,” Moore said.

Tom Spano, manager of Piatti restaurant, said “closing down the street is just such a great opportunity to beautify La Jolla Shores.”

“We want to support you guys in doing that and work hand in glove with you all to make it happen,” LJSA President Janie Emerson said.

A La Jolla Shores Business Association, formerly known as the La Jolla Shores Merchants Association, came together in 2015 but is no longer active.

When deciding to resuscitate it or start again, “the general feeling from the community as a whole was to start again,” Moore told the La Jolla Light. “The community wanted a fresh start ... after all that’s transpired the last 15 months.”

Steve Hadley, representing City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said the effort to make the street closure and outdoor dining program permanent “is a case where La Jolla is helping set a model out there for [the city] to reference off of.” ◆