La Jolla Parks & Beaches gets new president and seats new member

La Jolla Parks & Beaches board members and others meet Jan. 24 online.
La Jolla Parks & Beaches board members and others meet Jan. 24 online.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Changes are underway on the La Jolla Parks & Beaches board, including a new member and a new president.

At the group’s meeting Jan. 24, President Claudia Baranowski stepped down, citing personal reasons, and a new slate of officers was elected.

Bob Evans will now serve as president. Brenda Fake is the vice president and Tim Seery is treasurer. The presidential term is one year; the vice president and treasurer terms are two years.

“It has been my privilege to serve with and learn from … La Jolla Parks & Beaches,” Baranowski said. “My role as president offered the opportunity to interact with other La Jolla community organizations and their leaders, and city officials. I thank all of you for educating me about specific projects, your passion and sharing your ideas. … It has truly been an honor and pleasure. Keep moving forward and doing good things.”

Evans said he hopes for exactly that under his leadership.

“I want our LJP&B directors to primarily focus on our coastline parks and beaches, specifically beautification and improvement projects,” he said. “This past year we’ve been active with the Windansea bluff erosion project and working on improvements and upgrades at Scripps Park and Children’s Pool. Let’s keep this positive activity moving forward.”

A list of problems with the new restroom facility is reported to the La Jolla Parks & Beaches board.

Jan. 26, 2022

Baranowski’s resignation created a vacancy on the board. Local resident Catherine Cox, who started attending LJP&B meetings in 2020, applied to fill the seat.

“I live in La Jolla and bike this area all the time,” Cox said. “I have a great background in working with nonprofit organizations and have helped them raise a lot of money. That’s what I can bring to the table. I also bring a young perspective … and a new set of eyes.”

Rather than commit to a specific project, Cox said she could use her experience to help raise funds for the series of projects the board is undertaking.

She said her reasons for seeking the seat were explained in a candidate statement submitted in a letter to the board before the meeting.

The letter was not made public, though Evans provided the following excerpt from Cox’s statement: “I feel that being young, active and a working professional gives me the additional skills and energy to help make LJP&B be more focused and efficient; to promote community involvement and be more inclusive of all ages and backgrounds, whether it be working groups or just community interest to further promote fundraising and collaboration between other La Jollans. It is important that our young people have a representative voice since this is their future recreational and nature areas we are preserving and enhancing.”

Fake said, “I think it’s a wonderful gift you are bringing here.”

Cox started attending meetings after two LJP&B board members made comments critical about chalk writings on the Fay Avenue Bike Path in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Some community members called the comments “hateful” and “hurtful.” One of the two board members, Mary Ellen Morgan, has since resigned. The other, Marie Hunrichs, is still on the board.

Cox was among vocal community members who called for both board members to resign, and criticized the board for not removing them.

When it came time to decide whether to seat Cox, the vote was 11-4 in favor, with board members Phyllis Minick, Ken and Marie Hunrichs and John Leek opposing without comment. Baranowski, John Shannon, Melinda Merryweather and Sally Miller abstained without comment.

The board recently updated its bylaws to include term limits. Some members have been on the board for decades.

“Directors will serve a three-year term commencing immediately after the ... meeting in January,” Baranowski said in December. “Directors may serve a maximum of six years, or two terms. In order to stagger the current terms and establish an annual rotation, each board member has been assigned an initial term of one, two or three years.”

Going forward, when a vacancy occurs, the selection will occur in January rather than throughout the year.

The change is part of a larger revision to the bylaws to clean up inconsistent language and make other changes as recommended by the city of San Diego.

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