La Jolla merchants group to form committee to explore taking over Porsches on Prospect

La Jolla Village Merchants Association board President Amber Anderson (center) leads a discussion.
La Jolla Village Merchants Association board President Amber Anderson (center) leads a discussion about the group potentially taking over the Porsches on Prospect event held as part of La Jolla’s Concours d’Elegance.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

After hotly debating whether to explore taking over the Porsches on Prospect event that is part of La Jolla’s annual Concours d’Elegance car show, the La Jolla Village Merchants Association voted June 14 to create a committee to determine if it’s feasible.

LJVMA board President Amber Anderson, who also is a Concours d’Elegance board member and an agent with Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty, volunteered to lead the committee.

The Porsches event, which brings dozens of the German high-performance autos to La Jolla to line Prospect Street for free public viewing, is currently organized by McFarlane Promotions. Owner Laurel McFarlane told the La Jolla Light after the meeting that “as of this time I have had no conversations with the merchants association.”

Anderson said she would like a committee recommendation by January so that if all parties agree on LJVMA taking over the Porsches event, the board can get to work on planning it. The next Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for April 19-21.

The LJVMA board had a lengthy discussion about whether creating the committee is in the group’s best interest.

Treasurer Bill Podway said the costs to cover fees, closing the street, police presence and insurance would be in the thousands of dollars and questioned whether it’s prudent to take on the expense.

“There was also a merchant survey done and very few said they benefited from the last Porsches on Prospect event,” Podway said.

Katey Longo, gallery director at Lik Fine Art, said that during past Porsches on Prospect events, “we were shocked that no one [attending the event] was coming into our business that night.”

Anderson, who has been involved with the event the past two years, said “the only way to get factual numbers is to get actual data. … We have to have the facts before we can make an informed discussion.”

She said she wouldn’t consider taking it over “if it wasn’t turnkey, ready to go and a profit maker for us.”

The event could provide an annual revenue stream for the board, she said.

Anderson said the committee’s “checklist” will include additional merchant surveys to determine whether the event helps nearby businesses, along with creating a budget and marketing plan.

LJVMA Executive Director Jodi Rudick said “a couple of things are concerning to me” about the proposal. Among them, she said, she hasn’t received communications from McFarlane Promotions indicating that LJVMA would be welcome to take over.

Also, Rudick said, because Anderson is a Concours board member and works at the Sotheby’s real estate office that hosts a party as part of the event, “there is a conflict of interest here.”

Rudick added that running Porsches on Prospect would not be in line with the board’s current efforts.

“The reason we are not an event-driven organization is that La Jolla has so many third-party events that we as a board took action a few years ago to support those events and become promotional partners,” Rudick said. “We are a one-person staff [meaning herself] and putting on events is a time-consuming job.”

Rudick said executing the plan successfully would “fall on my shoulders.”

Based on participation at past events and because merchants are busy, “I don’t necessarily have the confidence that [board members] have the time to support an event the way another nonprofit does,” Rudick added.

Anderson countered that no one can know the potential plan or the work involved without a committee. “Maybe the committee will learn we shouldn’t do it, but I think it’s worth exploring,” she said.

LJVMA member Jo Cullen said “we have to be open-minded. … Some people are saying no, but we have to give people chances. This is a good conversation to have when we have more information, instead of cutting them off before they have a chance.”

A motion to create the exploratory committee passed 7-4, with board members Podway, Dusty Bowder, Karen Roque and Summer Shoemaker opposed.

Other LJVMA news

May Means Business: During a recent fundraising campaign for Rady Children’s Hospital called May Means Business, participating La Jolla businesses donated a portion of proceeds from May to the hospital via LJVMA totaling $9,852.

Brandon Lindley, Caitlin Donahue, Amber Anderson and Bill Podway
Rady Children’s Hospital representative Caitlin Donahue (center) holds a check from the La Jolla Village Merchants Association with departing LJVMA board member Brandon Lindley and members Amber Anderson and Bill Podway.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Cassie Scott, director of philanthropy for Rady Children’s Hospital, accepted a check for that amount from LJVMA, which she said is the largest collective contribution of all the May Means Business participants.

“We care for 92 percent of this region’s youth, from Riverside to the border; we see 281,000-plus kids a year,” Scott said. “Your contribution from the merchants of La Jolla is so appreciated.”

New board members: The board elected two new members after a multi-round election to fill vacancies left by the resignations of members Jen Pham and Brandon Lindley.

Four candidates ran for the two seats: Mermaids & Cowboys restaurant co-owner Brett Murphy and operating partner Dwayne Gale, Beeside Balcony restaurant owner Christophe Cevasco and LJVMA volunteer Japhet Perez, who owns a drywall and painting company.

Perez got the most votes with eight, while the remaining three candidates got six votes each. In deciding among the three to fill the second seat, the board narrowed the race to Murphy and Cevasco and finally selected Cevasco.

Pham resigned in writing, though a reason was not given at the meeting and she did not attend. Lindley resigned because he is moving out of the area.

Power washing: La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District Manager Brian Earley said Enhance La Jolla recently took a break from power washing Village sidewalks to accommodate a city of San Diego street slurry seal project.

“But we are back at it with a vengeance,” Earley said. “We are going to go all the way up to Pearl Street and over.”

The road project was done in April and May to apply slurry seal — a pavement preservation method put on the surface at an average thickness of a quarter-inch — on several streets throughout The Village.

Sea lion signs: Sierra Club Seal Society member Carol Toye presented new signs with sea lion viewing guidelines along with a request that businesses keep them in their stores and give to patrons.

“We have been working with students from UC San Diego to create nice signs that don’t have big caution warnings; they are more informational and [include] when the pupping season is, how to view them, the dos and don’ts and how to identify signs of disturbance,” Toye said.

The idea is to display the signs and “distribute these as widely as possible,” she said. “Anything helps to get the message out.”

Next meeting: The La Jolla Village Merchants Association next meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 12, at the La Jolla/Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave. Learn more at ◆