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Classic cars coming for a fee

When the La Jolla Motor Car Classic rolls into the Village in January, it will cost $15 to get within touching distance of the vintage vehicles.

Promote La Jolla, which has sponsored the event for the past four years, got the blessing of the La Jolla Town Council last week, but only after detailing plans to pour the $40,000 in anticipated profits back into the community.

Town council trustees voted 15-1-1 to override a previous recommendation by the council’s parks and beaches subcommittee to deny the event if a fee were to be charged.

Town Councilmen Trent Bonner and Ed Ward spoke in favor of the Motor Car Classic.

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“This is a win-win situation,” said Bonner. “They (PLJ) said they’re going to give all the money back to the community. Let’s do it.”

Ward added: “I think we ought to support things like this that bring people of class to La Jolla who sleep in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and buy the upgraded goods that are sold on our streets.”

The Jan. 11, 2009 event, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at of La Jolla Cove, will be visible to passersby who don’t pay the admission fee, even though a 4-foot-high fence will encircle a major portion of the park.

The council’s vote followed a presentation in which the Business Improvement District promised the following contributions:

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  • $5,000 for Cove restroom improvements,
  • $1,200 to replace aging Scripps Park palm trees,
  • $26,000 to replace aging hanging flower baskets throughout the Village.

Growing attraction

“It’s become quite prestigious and attracts a lot of heavyweight people in the car-show industry but it costs a lot of money to put on,” said Bill Price who presented details of the event to the council.

“With cars coming from all over Southern California, Arizona and Nevada, we thought we could charge admission and actually make a profit this year. We’d like to take this to the next level by charging admission.”

Price pointed out the free car show last year netted only $2,500 after eight months of hard work. By charging $15 adult admission, he said about $40,000 could be returned in profits, much of which can be used to benefit much-needed community improvement projects. Children under 12 will be admitted for free.

Previously free

John Beaver of the council’s Parks & Beaches Subcommittee said the event had originally been approved, but that decision was rescinded when Promote La Jolla decided to charge admission for it.

“This had previously been an open event that attracts families of any economic condition to see these wonderful cars,” he said. “Now it was going to be fenced-off and exclusionary. So we withdrew our support and left it up to the town council as a whole to determine the direction.”

Councilman Dan Courtney differed with his two colleagues. “I’m a car nut myself,” he said, “but I don’t like fencing off a public park and charging money for it.”

Being ‘sensitive’

Following the council meeting, PLJ’s executive director, Tiffany Sherer, estimated it costs about $80,000 - part of which is underwritten by sponsors - to stage the juried car show. She noted similar upscale events, such as one in Carmel, charge as much as $175 for admission.

“Our $15 ticket price is price-sensitive to make sure a family of four could come and afford the day,” she said.

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Sherer added charging admission for the annual juried Motor Car Classic could transform it into “the” next big event for the community.

“Once you start charging you can build on an event and sell out the hotels and have people stay the whole weekend,” she said.

For more information about the La Jolla Motor Car Classic, call (619) 233-5008 or visit

www.lajollabythesea.com

.