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Enhance La Jolla plans to bring milkweed to The Village for butterfly project

Enhance La Jolla plans a project to boost the monarch butterfly population.
(K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Enhance La Jolla has a pilot program set to launch next year to replace the plants in hanging flower baskets on Girard Avenue and Prospect Street with milkweed to create a butterfly garden effect.

“We purchased 15 1-gallon milkweed plants, which attract monarch butterflies,” said Enhance La Jolla District Manager Mary Montgomery.

The “tricky thing,” she said, is that the plants are dormant for about a month and a half during the year, “so they don’t look the best.” Thus, the milkweed may be mixed with other plants or succulents to be more aesthetically pleasing year-round.

The nonprofit Enhance La Jolla manages The Village Maintenance Assessment District, with authority to enhance city-provided services, including landscape maintenance, street and sidewalk cleaning, litter and graffiti abatement and additional trash collection, plus privately fund and complete capital improvement projects in public spaces, such as trash can upgrades, bench installation, sign augmentation, park improvements, more public art and tree canopies on main thoroughfares.

The milkweed project will be supplemented during next year’s Enhance La Jolla Day, a community cleanup event that launched last year. Board member Barbara Bry, who is on the Enhance La Jolla Day committee, said the three-hour event will be held Saturday, April 23.

“We are discussing possible themes, including an art program for children and planting the milkweed,” Bry said. “We are going to identify at least five locations [to plant] so we can see what it looks like.”

Enhance La Jolla President Ed Witt added that for Enhance La Jolla Day, “our plan is to give plants to people so they can plant them at their homes to promote the butterfly population.”

The monarch butterfly is reliant on milkweed, considered a “host plant,” for its entire life cycle. Butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves, and the eggs hatch after a few days into larvae. The larvae then eat the leaves to grow and become caterpillars. A caterpillar builds a chrysalis that hangs on the plant as its home until it transforms into a butterfly.

Milkweed, a self-sowing plant, will drop seeds for continuous re-germination and can be grown in the ground or in pots.

Other Enhance La Jolla news

Board election: Three Enhance La Jolla board members were chosen in an online election this month.

The elected members, announced at the board’s Oct. 21 meeting at the La Jolla/Riford Library, are resident commercial property owner Steve Warfield and incumbents Bry (community member at large) and John Michaelsen (commercial property owner). All the candidates ran unopposed.

Enhance La Jolla board members John Michaelsen, Barbara Bry and Steve Warfield were elected in online voting this month.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The election and results were certified by Sean Karafin of the San Diego Development Services Department.

In January, Julie Dubick will replace George Hauer in the board seat that represents the La Jolla Community Foundation. That seat is appointed by members of the foundation.

Cott commended: Community volunteer Chris Cott, who helps Enhance La Jolla with graffiti removal, repainting, painting of utility boxes and sticker removal, was presented with a gold paintbrush pin and a $500 gift.

Enhance La Jolla President Ed Witt (in blue shirt) commends community volunteer Chris Cott.
Enhance La Jolla President Ed Witt (in blue shirt) commends community volunteer Chris Cott at the Oct. 21 Enhance La Jolla meeting.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

“Chris is a wonderful man who takes care of all of our painting, all of our graffiti abatement,” Witt said. “Not only does he do it when we send him something, but sometimes I will get a text from Chris with multiple pictures of [an unsightly situation] and then what they look like [when he has repainted them]. He is a valued member of this community … in the way he carries out his volunteer efforts. If we didn’t have Chris doing this, we would have a very different-looking Village.”

Cott said he has traveled the world and seen places where graffiti is rampant. “Some places are beyond fixing,” he said. “They have given up. But I’m not going to give up. The sooner we get rid of [graffiti], the more discouraged these vandals are.”

Streetscape update: In coming months, the La Jolla Community Foundation streetscape plan will go before La Jolla community planning groups for input. The foundation is the fundraising arm of Enhance La Jolla because Enhance La Jolla has a contract with the city of San Diego to perform work in the public right of way.

The streetscape plan is a $15 million project to renovate the area known as The Dip on Prospect Street and Girard Avenue to Silverado Street.

“We have $1.5 million in house, so it is going to take us some time,” said foundation Chairwoman Phyllis Pfeiffer, who also is president and general manager of the La Jolla Light. “The preliminary review with the city has been complete. … The next step is for the La Jolla Community Foundation construction committee to start meeting with the planning groups within La Jolla.”

Pfeiffer said the committee is looking to start work around Wall Street at Girard Avenue with “corner parks” on each corner so “the community can see what we are doing and what it is going to look like.”

The committee also is looking to create permanent and rotating art exhibitions.

Next meeting: Enhance La Jolla meets quarterly or as needed. The next meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, at the La Jolla/Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave. Learn more at enhancelajolla.org. ◆