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2022 Look Ahead: La Jolla leaders celebrate achievements and make plans for the new year

Several tree wells like this one on Girard Avenue were refreshed with new rocks and plants during Enhance La Jolla Day.
Several tree wells like this one on Girard Avenue were refreshed with new rocks and plants (some plants were there previously) during Enhance La Jolla Day on March 20.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

As we forge ahead into another new year with continued hope that this will be the year the COVID-19 pandemic ends, the La Jolla Light asked various La Jolla community leaders about their achievements in 2021 and what they hope 2022 has in store.

What was your or your organization’s biggest achievement in 2021?

San Diego City Councilman and La Jolla resident Joe LaCava:

Entering office, I had two priorities: work with and be responsive to my district, and get things done.

For the record:

2:14 p.m. Jan. 4, 2022This article was updated to correct the spelling of Kathleen Neil’s last name.

On the environment front, I led in several areas working toward our climate action goals, including divesting all city investments from fossil fuels, committing to a public power feasibility study and ensuring every council action is evaluated for climate impacts. These changes are only a start of the ambitious goals we will need to meet our 2035 targets.

COVID played a large part in city actions. We balanced the annual budget and sustained city services thanks to federal emergency funding. We did our part to control the epidemic by requiring all city employees to be vaccinated.

For my part, my efforts led to saving utility ratepayers over $13.5 million. We continued aggressive efforts to help retailers, restaurateurs and tenants navigate the economic challenges of the pandemic.

A plastic water-filled barrier marks the southernmost point of the closure of Point La Jolla from Aug. 11 through Sept. 15.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

In La Jolla, we temporarily closed Point La Jolla during sea lion pupping season, which proved to be the right action to take after lesser initiatives were not successful. The closure incorporated input from various stakeholders, assuring that we did not disrupt traditional ocean access.

Enhance La Jolla President Ed Witt:

We continue to fine-tune our processes to keep the Maintenance Assessment District ever-improving. We do this by working with our vendors on a day-to-day basis, walking the district and continuing to comment on very specific needs as seen up close with boots on the ground. We’ve established a very close relationship with both vendors to ensure constant improvement.

The jacaranda trees planted on Pearl Street with the help of the La Jolla Garden Club have made a statement for all to see. The trees continue to thrive due to our constant vigilance and attention to detail. Only a couple have needed to be replaced.

Our tree-well do-overs have been a major improvement to the streets mainly used for strolling and shopping. We’ve experimented with a few different plants in different areas to improve viability and relevance as we look to not only beautify but find plantings that can most easily survive. The rocks and plants do give us a new look.

The power-washing of sidewalks took a new turn in 2021 by not just following a continued path but by finding areas that most need to be cleaned, with results in some areas being cleaned more often. We do this by communicating with our vendor on a practically daily basis.

In supporting events in The Village like the Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival and the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival, etc., we also changed some schedules to ensure we were always on the street around holidays that would have left us without vendor support so support would be there all the time, regardless of holidays, etc.

Our Enhance La Jolla Day was a huge success, and we plan on building on that for 2022 with our April 23 date.

La Jolla Community Planning Association President Diane Kane:

One of the biggest accomplishments of the La Jolla Community Planning Association in 2021 was successfully updating the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance in several critical areas. Our requested amendments were adopted into the land development code by the City Council at its meeting Dec. 13.

These include clarification of height measurements, [recognition of the] La Jolla Shores PDO Design Manual, applying citywide floor area ratio [to La Jolla Shores], clarifying fencing and retaining-wall height measurement in La Jolla Shores and increasing sign size for public notices.

La Jolla Community Planning Association President Diane Kane
(File)

Congratulations to La Jolla Shores PDO update ad-hoc committee chairwomen Kathleen Neil and Suzanne Weissman and Development Permit Review Committee Chairman Brian Will for their work on suggesting these code amendments, as well as writing, reviewing, submitting and advocating for them over the past year. This was a highly successful exercise in participatory democracy and a good example of the value provided by recognized community planning groups.

La Jolla Shores Association President Janie Emerson:

The continuation and renewal of The Shores’ outside dining through July 13, 2022, and the settling of the California Environmental Quality Act lawsuit with UC San Diego [over the new Theatre District Living and Learning Neighborhood].

La Jolla Town Council President James Rudolph:

My biggest achievement in 2021 undoubtedly was my assumption of the presidency of the La Jolla Town Council. Our past president, Ann Kerr Bache, had done such an extraordinarily good job during her term that it made me a little leery to even consider the possibility of becoming her successor. But LJTC trustees placed their faith in my abilities by electing me as the new president, and it would be disingenuous to deny the sense of pride I feel. I was born and raised in La Jolla, so I have a bred-in-the-bone commitment to La Jolla’s success and maturation.

La Jolla Town Council President James Rudolph
(File)

The greatest organizational achievement was, without question, the Hometown Heroes event spearheaded by Vice President Jerri Hunt. This event recognized and honored local legends, all of whom had gone above and beyond in their commitment to improving La Jolla and/or its residents. I consider it our greatest event because it demonstrates what LJTC is all about: service to the community.

La Jolla Cluster Association co-chairwomen Megan DeMott and Heather Polen:

[The group includes the five La Jolla public schools in the San Diego Unified School District.]

The cluster’s biggest achievement of 2021 has been safely reopening schools and providing a superb quality of education for our children while also protecting our community. We have successfully reopened with weekly COVID testing and other monitoring procedures, which have been proven effective for a safe learning environment.

The cluster has continued to meet regularly throughout 2021 with our school board trustee, area superintendent and district leaders … to provide support to our teachers, students and families, serve as a forum to share and disseminate relevant information and share thoughts and concerns from our stakeholders to the district.

La Jolla Community Recreation Group Chairwoman Mary Coakley Munk:

La Jolla Community Recreation Group Chairwoman Mary Coakley Munk
(Courtesy of Mary Coakley Munk)

As a result of the incredible work of our Visioning Committee, in partnership with The Bishop’s School, our biggest achievement in 2021 was the successful approval by all La Jolla land-use committees and the Community Planning Association of the vacation and lot line adjustment of Cuvier Street.

La Jolla Community Center Executive Director Nancy Walters:

Surviving 2021 is our biggest achievement!

Aside from our survival and being able to help so many seniors in the community by offering over 300 free virtual classes, events and concerts, we had a major accomplishment that includes the installation of both a new roof and solar panels, thanks to county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Las Patronas and the Sahm Family Foundation. These new capital improvements allow for major monthly savings, which in turn supports our operations and programs.

La Jolla Music Society President and Chief Executive Todd Schultz:

La Jolla Music Society President and Chief Executive Todd Schultz
(David Poller / zumapress.com)

Like everyone else, our goal is to return to life as close to normal as possible. So far, we’ve worked hard to implement safety measures that enable people to return and enjoy concerts and events.

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Director and Chief Executive Kathryn Kanjo:

MCASD is one museum with two locations. Here in La Jolla, we are celebrating major construction milestones, despite the supply chain and labor pressures brought on by COVID. Excitingly, many of these items are visible from the neighborhood: new landscaping along Prospect Street and Coast Boulevard, Italian travertine panels on the exterior walls and the return of “Hammering Man.”

We also reopened MCASD [in] downtown [San Diego] with “Yolanda López: Portrait of an Artist.”

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library Executive Director Erika Torri:

One of the largest achievements … was the possibility to stay involved with our members by moving programs online. We had a large following for our concerts in jazz and chamber presentations, for all our art and music lectures and the classes for the school.

We had several special exhibitions, including “Marking Time” … and the 40th anniversary of the Stuart Collection … also a farewell to the outstanding director, Mary Livingstone Beebe. This was the fourth exhibition of the Stuart Collection I presented at the Athenaeum.

La Jolla/Riford Library branch manager Bill Mallory:

The La Jolla/Riford Library’s biggest achievement ... was to be able to provide the community with new, entertaining and educational programming throughout the chaos of a time dominated by ever-changing COVID regulations.

Bird Rock Community Council President John Newsam:

Despite the ongoing restrictions under the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to maintain a good level of productive activity. The BRCC board and our working groups for coastal overlooks, visioning and Bird Rock merchants all met regularly and made encouraging progress.

Bird Rock representatives also served key roles in broader La Jolla initiatives ... with long-standing community groups, and directed, for example, to assessing the likely negative impacts of Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10 [which changed allowable housing development] and to redistricting issues.

La Jolla Historical Society Executive Director Lauren Lockhart:

Our biggest accomplishment of 2021 was continuing to serve our community with varied programming, including an exciting exhibition roster, publications like our Timekeeper magazine and exhibition catalogs, as well as through public access to our historic archive. We accomplished this despite having our galleries closed for a portion of the year due to the pandemic.

La Jolla Historical Society Executive Director Lauren Lockhart
(Courtesy of La Jolla Historical Society)

I’m proud to share that in 2021, 88 researchers explored materials in our archive, conducting research into myriad topics. They visited us to dive into their family lineage, to prepare to write a novel set in the area and to study La Jolla’s diverse history and impact on the region.

Because of our continued commitment to the community, we also became the stewards of several new historic collections and materials that were donated to the society.

La Jolla Parks & Beaches President Claudia Baranowski:

An important achievement by La Jolla Parks & Beaches in 2021 was adopting amended bylaws. The amendments include term limits, clear boundaries of the area we support, definition of our board as a 501(c)(3) organization operating in a public forum and establishing an annual process for candidates to join the board.

I applaud the working group that collectively spent dozens of hours researching and discussing ideas for the long-term benefit of the organization to fulfill our mission to preserve, protect and enhance La Jolla parks and beaches and other recreational resources, public open spaces and coastal accesses.

Another highlight included supporting ongoing input and engagement with the city’s project team as the community monitored the construction of the Scripps Park Pavilion comfort station. We look forward to celebrating the completion of this project very soon.

La Jolla Village Merchants Association Executive Director Jodi Rudick and board President Amber Anderson:

Our biggest achievement? Resiliency. 2021 was such a dynamic year. Change was the only thing that remained constant. COVID and vaccine news controlled so much of our business climate this past year.

Protocols were a moving target, and it was inspiring to watch restaurants, shops, fitness studios, salons and professionals adapt, flex and discover new methods of delivery, service and to exceed customer expectations. There were new, completely unexpected challenges, too. From supply chain issues to staffing shortages, there was always something new to keep merchants on their toes.

In spite of these many extraordinary twists and turns, we welcomed over 60 new businesses to The Village of La Jolla. COVID is not behind us, but La Jolla has proved itself to be a community that not only can survive but can thrive, despite the unexpected.

Only recently have we brought back some of our iconic events, most notably the First Friday Art Walk, which attracted hundreds of visitors to our galleries [in December]. The success of this event speaks volumes about the pent-up demand people have for getting out, connecting with others and sharing experiences.

We stay focused on our mission: We bring business to The Village of La Jolla, and will continue to monitor health and safety guidelines.

What do you or your organization most want to accomplish in 2022?

San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava:

As chairman of the [city] Environment Committee, my goal is to implement an assertive and enforceable Climate Action Plan 2.0 along with an implementation plan.

Also, as an incoming board member to San Diego Community Power, I look forward to the launch of community choice for residential [electricity] customers, similar to the successful 2021 launch for government and commercial customers.

San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava
San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava
(File)

I will continue to be responsive to communities citywide on several fronts. I am proposing an update for community planning group operations to ensure these groups are reflective of the communities they represent.

I will be building on the scaling-up housing strategy I proposed at the Land Use and Housing Committee earlier this year, which secures partnerships with other public agencies and leverages our publicly owned land for the development of affordable and sustainable housing.

For La Jolla, my goal is to ensure the promises made in the short-term rental ordinance are kept, protecting our neighborhoods. I also aim to pass a street vending ordinance to protect our boardwalks.

My focus in La Jolla will be on infrastructure and bringing projects to fruition. This includes opening the new restroom in Scripps Park at The Cove; fixing the north Kellogg showers; securing more funding to repave streets, like the paving just approved for La Jolla Parkway; and pressing to advance the utility undergrounding process by completing blocks previously started and getting the next round of undergrounding through design review and into construction.

Enhance La Jolla President Ed Witt:

  • Continue to build on our processes to enhance The Village with vendors.
  • Work to encourage board membership that gives us the best opportunity to succeed with the right leadership.
  • Make Enhance La Jolla Day even more successful.
  • Work even closer with the La Jolla Community Foundation as the streetscape plans begin to take place.

La Jolla Community Planning Association President Diane Kane:

In addition to keeping community planning groups in business during 2022 (in the face of reform measures the board has deemed problematic), my goals are to:

  • Revise the “50 percent rule” [which allows developers to bypass the costly and time-consuming coastal development permit process if they keep 50 percent of a building’s original walls] in concert with other coastal CPGs and council members
  • Complete the Village Visioning Committee’s community streetscape plan and develop funding sources for implementation
  • Complete the Coastal View Corridor inventory and [create] a Development Services Department/community feedback loop so it can be implemented

These are initiatives already in motion … and I anticipate community support and volunteer energy will continue into 2022.

La Jolla Shores Association President Janie Emerson:

  • The improvement and maintenance of our La Jolla Shores parks and beaches from Kellogg Park to Pottery Canyon to Cliffridge Park and others
  • Institute environmental solutions for our Shores residents and visitors, including natural methods rather than pesticides, limiting beach fires to propane use only and other health/climate issues
  • Establish permanent outside dining and safe traffic solutions [to make a] pedestrian-friendly Shores environment

La Jolla Town Council President James Rudolph:

We want to become more relevant. By relevance, I mean that we want to focus on the topics that really matter to La Jollans. We create our own agendas for meetings, but I’d like to modify this slightly by incorporating into some future agendas the feedback we receive from members of the community regarding what affects them the most. One of our advantages is that we can — without fear or favor — discuss all topics; thus, we will not shy away from even controversial subjects.

Second, we want to grow our membership numbers. This is, conveniently enough, related to our first goal — that is, by becoming more relevant, we necessarily will attract more people.

And third, we want to continue our rollout of more social media outlets. Engaging young people (perhaps through the creation of a youth commission) is a personal goal of mine. By developing a more sophisticated social media presence, we attract young residents.

LJTC’s raison d'être is to promote a thriving community and to provide a democratic forum where all are welcome to discuss important matters. We’re proud to play our part in this democratic process and hope to bring in more participants.

La Jolla Cluster Association co-chairwomen Megan DeMott and Heather Polen:

  • The ongoing safety and full reopening of in-person school and supplemental activities for our kids and staff.
  • Continue to challenge all spectrums of our cluster children, including areas of acceleration with math and language arts and also social-emotional support for our students. We recognize that our cluster children are exceptional in many ways, and we want to provide all resources for them to meet their full potential.
  • Engage our community in support for our schools with fundraising and activities and continue to thrive as a top-notch public educational system, despite the recent challenges.

La Jolla Community Recreation Group Chairwoman Mary Coakley Munk:

Our goals are to finalize our plans for the renovation of our historic Recreation Center and adjacent playground areas, raise funds to implement our plans and continue through the city of San Diego approval process.

La Jolla Community Center Executive Director Nancy Walters:

We want to move forward with safety as our No. 1 priority. Since reopening on June 15, we implemented strict protocols for all attending in-person programs and we have and will continue to screen all to keep our members and community safe.

La Jolla Community Center Executive Director Nancy Walters
(File)

Our goal is to improve seniors’ day-to-day lives and create opportunities for engagement [through] SeniorConnect, which will include a computer/technology lab with access to smart devices, PCs, printers, classes for beginner and intermediate senior groups, one-on-one sessions and more.

One of our ongoing goals, and part of our mission, is to always provide quality programs for seniors in the community. We intend to live out our mission in 2022 and bring back all of our classes, series and concerts that are loved and sorely missed.

We also feel it is extremely important to continue to offer iPhone/iPad courses, as we find that this course is imperative for seniors to learn how to connect and engage with others using technology.

Offerings will also include healthy-eating courses and cooking classes and a variety of art classes, which have endless benefits for seniors, from increased motor skills and coordination to cognitive function and stimulation.

La Jolla Music Society President and Chief Executive Todd Schultz:

Our new home, the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, opened in April 2019 and 11 months later closed due to the pandemic. Many people are still unaware of the new facility, and we are, in effect, “reopening” as a new venue and center for arts and culture. With that in mind, our goal now is to get the word out that concerts and activities are back on the schedule and that everyone is welcome to gather at The Conrad for La Jolla Music Society performances and those of the many arts organizations who also present concerts here.

At the same time, we aim to reach beyond La Jolla to all of greater San Diego, welcoming a wide range of diverse audiences to experience a wide range of programming, from classical and jazz to dance and Latin music, with some of the world’s greatest performers.

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Director and Chief Executive Kathryn Kanjo:

Our No. 1 goal for 2022 is to reopen our transformed La Jolla campus. We look forward to renewing our 80-year relationship with The Village with a building that frames not only the art inside but also the views beyond. We aspire to be a welcoming space for cultural encounters — a place where people can gather to experience their own humanity more deeply and perhaps see their world differently for what they view in the galleries.

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library Executive Director Erika Torri:

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library Executive Director Erika Torri
(Eduardo Contreras / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

  • We want to bring back our membership. We had around 2,000 members before the pandemic; we lost about 500 members and were shortly under 1,500 at our lowest point. Some have come back; we are at about 1,700 right now and work on improving it more.
  • We hope to have all former programs — with the same high quality — back in place and have added new activities within a short time.

La Jolla/Riford Library branch manager Bill Mallory:

  • Make stronger and more diverse connections with the La Jolla community
  • Let the people guide the programming
  • Lead with innovation

Bird Rock Community Council President John Newsam:

A substantial part of our mission is to continue our current responsibilities, such as the Bird Rock Maintenance Assessment District, with diligence and quality.

In addition, we want to engage the broader Bird Rock community more in various local issues and activities, progress initiatives prioritized by merchants and work closely with the other La Jolla community groups on issues that impact or may impact our neighborhood.

La Jolla Historical Society Executive Director Lauren Lockhart:

Looking ahead to 2022, we plan to expand the ways in which the public can engage with and access our collection by moving toward digitization of our materials.

We will also continue to develop new ways to serve youth and families through community partnerships and a school visit program for students in kindergarten through college.

And finally, we will relaunch our beloved community events the Secret Garden Tour (May 14) and the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance (April 22-24).

La Jolla Parks & Beaches President Claudia Baranowski:

La Jolla Parks & Beaches plans to finalize the scope and secure donations for a maintenance enhancement project at the Scripps Park picnic grove, create a landscape beautification plan along sidewalk “side-scapes” on Coast Boulevard and continue enlisting community participation and integrating relationships across the various local groups on projects such as the La Jolla View Reservoir project.

La Jolla Parks & Beaches President Claudia Baranowski
(Courtesy of Claudia Baranowski)

And while we have successfully managed to have productive online meetings during the pandemic, just like many other local organizations, we are hopeful to return to meeting in person and enjoy the benefits of live interactions and exchanges.

La Jolla Village Merchants Association Executive Director Jodi Rudick and board President Amber Anderson:

  • Focus on annual signature events. We are privileged to be part of world-class events such as the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance and will be working to become a key player in the success of this event, which brings cars and collectors from all over the world to our beautiful Village for three days in April. Community events that cater to families, such as Pillage the Village, are also on our radar as we look to attract more locals to shops and restaurants.
  • It will also be critical to continually enhance our First Friday Art Walk, striving to make this a must-attend experience every month. Some ideas we are exploring for future Art Walks include hands-on activities, classes, art lectures, demonstrations, performance art and music. We hope to involve schools, colleges, art guilds and clubs to become part of the event. We also are thrilled to welcome the Museum of Contemporary Art back to La Jolla as they reopen their doors to the entire region. Along with the Conrad [Prebys] Performing Arts Center and the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, The Village boasts a growing arts scene.
  • The La Jolla Village Merchants Association is, at its heart, a membership organization committed to helping, supporting and bringing resources to our 1,200-plus La Jolla Village businesses. We want to increase the number of people who attend our various meetings and networking activities. Connections create collaborations. We are especially passionate about helping our “solopreneurs” and one-person shops and businesses. ◆