Ashley takes helm at La Jolla Town Council

The La Jolla Town Council presidency will officially be passed from Anne Cleveland to Darcy Ashley at the council’s next meeting Thursday, May 8.

A high-profile community activist who’s been involved on a broad range of fronts, including opposing third-story development and on-street paid parking, Ashley said she is looking forward to this new opportunity to serve the public.

“The Town Council has always provided a forum to the community and that is the primary thing I’m interested in furthering as president in the year of my term,” said Ashley, who believes the community at-large has had a difficult time getting accurate and timely information about community issues and activities.

“The Internet can be used as a tool to communicate,” she said. “It’s a terrific medium, especially for volunteer organizations.”

The new Town Council president said she feels the group needs to do more outreach in the community. “You’ve got to offer reasons to be a member of the Town Council,” she pointed out.

A Minnesota native, Ashley and her husband, George, moved to La Jolla about 10 years ago.

It was the proposed Bird Rock Station project, a three-story mixed-use development to include a high-end deli and condos on the corner of Bird Rock Avenue and La Jolla Boulevard right behind her home, that originally drew Ashley out and got her engaged in local civic affairs. That also led to her involvement with the Bird Rock Community Council (BRCC), which was really starting to grow and branch out about the time she started to become more civic-minded.

“It was a really nice group of people and made a really great impression on us going to BRCC meetings,” said Ashley, who noted the group did not have agendas then, which was frustrating because it made it hard to know what items or issues would be discussed at monthly meetings. Pennie Carlos became BRCC president shortly thereafter and began a series of proactive policies, like setting agendas for meetings, that impressed Ashley and influenced her to take her community involvement to the next level.

“Penny was a great motivator and activator and did a terrific job of leading the group,” Ashley said. “One thing led to another and then I got elected to the (La Jolla) Community Planning Association and then to the Town Council.”

Ashley added the Town Council is in the beginning stages of having a wider discussion with trustees about doing an expanded business directory. “People could really use it as a resource,” she said, “if you need a dentist (for example) you could just go on the Town Council Web site to get an idea of people who you might consider.”

Ashley intends to remain true to the Town Council’s mission statement which reads: To work proactively as a unifying voice on behalf of the entire La Jolla community. “That resonates with me,” she said, “in a way that just about nothing else can. The Town Council isn’t meant to be just a Village organization, but about Bird Rock and La Jolla Shores including all the residents in the area. There are ways to have stronger input from all the areas.” The incoming Town Council president isn’t certain that La Jolla needs to speak with “one voice.” She is certain, however, that “all the voices need to have a way to be heard.”

“Different people in different groups have different objectives,” Ashley pointed out. “You need to have calm, effective leadership. You can have a respectful dialogue between people, and still come to some consensus. I always believe that diversity makes for much better decision making, rather than having people lined up who all think the way you do. Having some variety, or balance, makes for better decision making.”

Looking ahead, Ashley said, “One of the big questions is going to be whether the community has the will to continue to try and find solutions for parking once the issue of meters is over with.”

Ashley said she’s looking forward to getting to know Town Council trustees in a different way. “I want to do everything I can to give them the support they need to do great things with the Town Council,” she said.