La Jolla Village Merchants Association signs on as supporter of Safe Place Program

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association meeting discusses the Safe Places program during its Aug. 11 meeting.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Although the new stickers signaling a business is a “Safe Place” for members of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities have not been rolled out yet, the La Jolla Village Merchants Associated voted during its Aug. 11 meeting to be an early participant in the city of San Diego’s expanded Safe Place Program. LJVMA will hear more about the initiative at its next meeting but already decided to be on board.

Through the program, Steve Hadley, representing the office of City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, explained, “The ask is for merchants to put in their window a small decal or sticker indicating to people from numerically small or marginalized communities that the owner of that store or this property has intentionally gone to the effort to become aware that there are customers that may not feel safe … [and] is prepared to make them feel comfortable and protect them.”

He said the city would bring in an Asian American attorney to discuss the program at an upcoming LJVMA meeting, who has already shared stories with Councilman LaCava of overhearing White mothers telling their children “not to play with the Chinese children, they might be carriers of the COVID flu,” Hadley said.

“To be honest, I have experienced maybe some resentments in life but as a White, American, middle class male, I never experienced that kind of comment,” he said.

Although it was not requested (the board was only asked to docket the discussion), LJVMA unanimously voted to support the initiative.

Executive Director Jodi Rudick said, “We want to be a welcoming community to everyone and make sure everyone feels safe here. I think we do a wonderful job of that, but we can be better. This is a first step.”

The Safe Place Program is an initiative was launched in April to help San Diegans clearly identify businesses that are safe places for victims of a hate crime or report suspicious activity. It was originally established to support members of the LGBTQ community, and expanded to include Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Each sticker contains a QR code that can be scanned to direct the user to resources for reporting hate crimes. A press conference is expected when the new stickers will be distributed.

In other LJVMA news:

Halloween Happenings: After canceling its annual “Pillage the Village” community outing last year due to COVID-19 related precautions on gatherings, the board voted to revive the event this year. Plans are to hold the trick-or-treating event the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 29, since area children are encouraged to wear costumes to school and Halloween is on a Sunday this year.

Participating merchants will hand out candy, but it is not yet known if the annual costume contest will take place.

LJVMA partnered with the San Diego Family Justice Center to host a “costume drive” leading up to the Halloween season, through which merchants are encouraged to either donate or provide a place to donate costumes that will be given to the children and teens at the center.

The Family Justice Center provides help and hope to women, men and children who are victims of family violence and sex trafficking.

Survey results: LJVMA was presented with the findings of a recent update to a survey of visitors and residents about what they would like to see in the community.

Originally commissioned in 2019, the survey was created by students from the San Diego State University School of Business and recently revisited to reflect changes in behaviors during the pandemic.

Japhet Matias Perez Estrada, a Columbia University graduate and La Jolla resident, explained, “I wanted to know how COVID influenced people’s decisions on shopping and dining and updated the project with new information.”

The majority of respondents reported living in the 92037 ZIP code.

“Over 87 percent of La Jolla locals confirmed they would like to see street fairs and events in The Village,” he said, and that the “biggest concern” from the survey was the perceived lack of parking. “It didn’t matter the age group, gender, ZIP code, everyone’s top recommendation to improve La Jolla was building more parking lots or reducing traffic.”

Next meeting: La Jolla Village Merchants Association next meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8, tentatively at La Jolla/Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave. Learn more: