BID council president: ‘Don’t give up on PLJ’

By Tony de Garate


While some want the embattled, broke and barely functioning Promote La Jolla put out of its misery once and for all, a new voice has emerged to say, “Not so fast.”

Patrick Edwards, president of the city’s Business Improvement District (BID) Council, called on board members to do whatever they can to return the La Jolla BID to its former vibrant status and be an active member that can support the other 16 business districts in the city.

In remarks that at first seemed like interrogation but eventually gave way to pep talk,

Edwards used the lightly attended July 14 meetings of the PLJ Board of Directors and LJBID to provoke a discussion of what may become of PLJ and what could eventually replace it.

A steering committee to discuss the topic will “probably” meet July 29 at 4 p.m. at 1150 Silverado, PLJ President Rick Wildman said. The meeting is open to the public, he said.

Edwards said since PLJ was formed in accordance with state law that governs the formation of BIDs, it can’t be disbanded without a vote of the members. He also said he wants whatever management entity is formed to stay within the folds of the San Diego BID Council and be an important partner in preventing the city from mishandling assessment payments from businesses.

The city’s procedure for reimbursing the individual districts with the assessment money they receive has become “convoluted,” said Edwards, who is also a former president of the North Park BID.

“What the city has done is instituted barriers, procedures, hiccups and other rules to interrupt that flow and, in a sense, float that money. Collectively, we can lobby against what the city has been doing,” he said.

Edwards said he wanted to be proactive. “I’m hear to tell you to fix it so we don’t have to start over. We need you as a functioning BID; we need to support each other,” he said.

PJL, the entity formed in 1987 that formerly had the contract to manage the business district, has been managed by the city since January, following a city audit last year that accused the group of mismanagement and double-billing. It is currently negotiating with the city to settle a $112,000 potential lawsuit and faces tens of thousands of dollars in debt to other creditors.

A new entity, the La Jolla Business Improvement District, filed articles of incorporation last month as a possible successor organization to PLJ but its scope and composition are “up for grabs,” Wildman said. “What we’re doing as a community is to look at alternatives.”

One idea is to form a Maintenance Assessment District or Community Benefit District that could work in concert with the BID or possibly replace it. It would charge property owners based on a formula that would have be determined. This is different from the current BID, which assesses business owners directly to pay for marketing, beautification, parking improvements and the like. The new district could have elements in common with the Little Italy group, which has gained the admiration of some PLJ members.

Wildman said PLJ’s contract with the city to manage the BID ended June 30, 2009, and was not renewed. The city managed the BID last year and is managing it again this year. Four members (Rick Wildman, Glen Rasmussen, Jennifer Clark and Daisy Fitzgereald) were appointed to advise the city. If a new group were to arise, it could take over local management as soon as it was approved by the city council.

One of the things the city requested is that we form a new non-profit that could take on the local management role, Wildman said, adding, “Their position is the old BID is dead.’

Wildman stressed all options will be under study. “No one’s jumping at anything right now until we get (all the information) on the table.”

For now, the LJBID is active and working for the betterment of the merchants. New ideas are being considered to improve the vitality of the Village, he added.

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