Cityhood group sees strength in numbers

One item stood out at La Jolla cityhood proponents’ meeting last week: the desirability of banding together with other communities seeking to break away from their parent cities.

“We want to be the leader of the league of separating cities,” quipped Melinda Merryweather, a core member of Independent La Jolla, a registered public advocacy nonprofit, 501(4) working to promote cityhood.

Merryweather contends La Jolla could do its own public services more efficiently — and at less cost — by contracting them out. “There is not a pothole in (city of) Del Mar and they’ve only got 4,000 people,” she noted.

Cindy Greatrex noted there are several communities, like West Hollywood in Los Angeles, now seeking independence from their parent cities.

“We ought to look into creating a liaison with these other villages,” she said.

Shannon Van Buskirk, who recently joined the group, said La Jolla has some stereotypes to overcome.

“A lot of people think of us as these rich la Jollans who want to create their own little enclave,” she said.

Mike Costello, another group member who also is on the boards of La Jolla Community Planning Association and the Bird Rock Community Council, noted there are advantages to cities being smaller rather than larger.

“Cities of 40,000 to 50,000 can be more efficiently managed financially,” he said.

Still in its formative stages, Independent La Jolla has significant legal and fiscal hurdles to clear in achieving its goal. Even deciding which potential “road” to pursue in seeking cityhood is a challenge. There are three options: going to Sacramento and seeking changes in state law to relax requirements placed on a seceding city; the “legislative” proposal requiring a simple majority (50 percent plus one) vote of residents within the new city’s boundaries, as well as the rest of the city of San Diego, for passage; and filing a lawsuit challenging current state law governing how sections of cities, like La Jolla, can separate from “parent” entities and become their own cities.

At Independent La Jolla’s next meeting, set for 6 p.m. May 19 at the Riford Library, the group will elect officers. For information, e-mail or visit