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‘We’re failing’: La Jolla leaders hoping locals will pitch in more to throw out trash

La Jolla shopkeepers should make more effort to clear trash from their properties, says Enhance La Jolla Chairman Ed Witt.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Though summer tourism season has waned, The Village of La Jolla is still in need of care, and two people who oversee its maintenance are hoping locals will take an extra step toward making it shine.

Ed Witt, chairman of the nonprofit Enhance La Jolla, is calling on La Jolla residents and business owners to lessen the burden on the organization.

Enhance La Jolla manages The Village Maintenance Assessment District, which has authority to supplement services provide by the city of San Diego, including landscape maintenance, street and sidewalk cleaning, litter and graffiti abatement and additional trash collection.

The MAD also undertakes special projects funded privately, such as bench installations, tree planting and more.

Though Enhance La Jolla and the MAD make daily efforts to clean The Village, Ed Witt says they can't keep up.
Though Enhance La Jolla and the Maintenance Assessment District make daily efforts to clean The Village, Ed Witt says they can’t keep up.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Witt and MAD manager Mary Montgomery said they make daily efforts to empty trash receptacles, pick up litter, look for graffiti to remove and identify sidewalks that need power washing.

“In spite of all the collective work and energy” by the many groups in La Jolla that work to improve public spaces, “we’re failing … as individual citizens by the silly things that we just don’t pay attention to,” Witt said.

During a Sept. 8 walk through The Village, Witt and Montgomery pointed to several pieces of trash and dog feces left behind. Witt said shop and restaurant owners should help a bit more to clean up, though they pay into the MAD.

Stickers and litter throughout The Village show a lack of consideration, MAD manager Mary Montgomery says.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

“The property owners are paying us to keep the place as orderly [and] as clean as we can,” he said. “But we can barely keep up.”

Witt said what’s “troubling sometimes is that the people who are occupying the retail spaces [and] restaurants … don’t seem to look outside their front door.”

Often, he noted, property owners live elsewhere, which compounds the problem.

“It’s so obvious the owners aren’t paying attention,” Witt said.

If merchants are paying the high rent prices to be in The Village, they should make more effort to walk their property daily and assess it, he said.

“That’s embarrassing,” Montgomery said of trash observed outside one business. “And it’s a poor representation of your business.”

“It’s also a poor representation of the community,” Witt added. “It’s appalling.”

Those who make more effort to keep the outside of their businesses looking good also might see more customers, Montgomery said.

Nancy Warwick, who owns Warwick’s bookstore on Girard Avenue, agreed.

Each morning, bookstore employees go outside to remove litter from the planters, curb and sidewalk, she said.

Warwick, a recently termed-out Enhance La Jolla board member, said the MAD’s effort to remove litter “has made such a difference, but it isn’t enough” due to the volume.

“Business owners and managers need to make sure that they’re doing that in front of their stores,” Warwick said. “Those kinds of things make a difference. Not only does The Village look more attractive to our locals and visitors and make them want to keep supporting The Village, [but] for individual business owners who make the extra effort, customers really like to show their support to that particular business.”

“The property owners are paying us to keep the place as orderly [and] as clean as we can. But we can barely keep up.” — Ed Witt, Enhance La Jolla chairman

Now that Labor Day has passed and there are fewer people in The Village, “the worst is behind us,” Montgomery said. But people still need to take more responsibility.

La Jolla resident and volunteer Chris Cott picks stickers off signs, repaints graffiti and picks up trash from sidewalks.

“As a member of the community, I’ve been … trying to set an example,” Cott said.

Those who see an issue needing attention in the Maintenance Assessment District are encouraged to call Enhance La Jolla at (858) 444-5892 or email manager@enhancelajolla.org.