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La Jolla Town Council and other San Diego organizations discuss shared concerns

The La Jolla Town Council heard from presidents of three other San Diego community groups during its Nov. 11 meeting.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

To highlight issues common across the city of San Diego, the La Jolla Town Council held a forum called “Community Organization: Stubborn Issues — Future Solutions” during its Nov. 11 virtual meeting.

Representatives of three other community groups weighed in on concerns in their areas, which Town Council President James Rudolph said are “overarching issues that everybody is dealing with.”

“Hopefully we can work together [toward] solutions,” he said.

Amid tables adorned with decorative gems representing La Jolla’s reputation as “the jewel of San Diego,” 10 honorees were recognized by the La Jolla Town Council as 2021 “Hometown Heroes.”

Adam McLane, president of the Rolando Community Council, said the primary issue in Rolando, a neighborhood in mid-city San Diego bordering La Mesa, is “projects not getting done” by the city, such as street paving, water main replacement and undergrounding of power lines.

“We see these projects begin and then they languish,” McLane said. “They’re never getting completed.”

Rudolph said “that is obviously an issue common to all parts of San Diego.”

McLane said Rolando, like other parts of the city, also is “coping with an ongoing homelessness crisis” coupled with a “hands-off approach” from police and “poor policy playing out. … And the constituents are forced to deal with it.”

Marcella Bothwell, president of the Pacific Beach Town Council, said, “Homelessness is not going away” and added that those who work locally with the homeless population have “no resources.”

Bothwell said her community also is concerned about a proliferation of street vendors that “has impacted our businesses [that] compete with the vendors on the street and on our boardwalks and our beaches.”

Bothwell said the street vendors “are not mom-and-pop things … these are people coming from out of state and selling all sorts of products.”

A revised vending ordinance is slated to go before the San Diego City Council on Tuesday, Dec. 14, according to Steve Hadley, representing Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla.

Legislation has been sought by merchants in downtown and beach areas.

The ordinance, proposed by City Council President Jennifer Campbell, whose District 2 includes Pacific Beach, “should enable the city to ... rein in vending,” Hadley said.

Barry Bernstein, immediate past president of the University City Community Association, said that in his community, “there are some questions about the trolley [extension] and its purpose in perhaps reducing some of the congestion.”

An 11-mile extension of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System’s Blue Line trolley between Old Town and the UC San Diego and University City areas is scheduled to open Sunday, Nov. 21.

“Whether or not the trolley will actually reduce the number of drivers is questionable,” Bernstein said, “because people are going to come up there in the cars to get on the trolley.”

Bothwell voiced concerns about traffic congestion in Pacific Beach once the Blue Line extension opens. She said she hopes the communities can get together to plan for the extra traffic. “People will not give up their cars,” she said.

Diane Ahern, the new president of UCCA, said she’s also concerned about an uptick in airplane flights over University City due to satellite navigation that enables aircraft “to fly more directly from Point A to Point B,” she said.

It reduces emissions and saves time, money and fuel, which benefits pilots and passengers, Ahern said. But it doesn’t help “if you’re a resident who wants some peace and quiet in your backyard, or you’re a school principal or an outdoor restaurant manager or someone who wants to prevent another deadly crash into a residential area.”

Rudolph said that is another “overlapping issue” and noted that Bird Rock resident Anthony Stiegler has worked toward reducing noise from jets using San Diego International Airport.

“We have people who are really dedicated and passionate about making San Diego better,” Rudolph said. “That gives me hope. … We just need to keep working.”

The La Jolla Town Council will not meet in December. Its next meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13, online. Learn more at lajollatowncouncil.org.