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Community Coffee Grinds Out Issues with Mayor Sanders

By: Amy Lynne Bowes

La Jolla residents and business owners attended a community coffee with Mayor Jerry Sanders this past Saturday from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Living Room Coffee House at 1010 Prospect St.

The casual coffee house setting did not deter the 20 to 30 residents and business owners from talking about the issues that matter to La Jollans the most.

The crowd gathered in the back of the establishment around a square table adorned with morning pastries and flowers. Community members drank their coffee and listened intently as the mayor answered questions from the head of the table.

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Mayor Sanders listened to issues ranging from traffic concerns to homeless activities increasing in the area of Vons. The mayor’s staff took detailed notes as each community member spoke.

“Crime and gang activity is increasing in our area,” said resident Mary Coakley.

Coakley represented La Jolla Shores residents sharing their concerns over crowd control, increased crime and shoreline preservation.

“A great solution would be park rangers,” said Coakley.

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The La Jolla Shores group had a moment to sit and talk with Mayor Sanders one-on-one and share with him a brief presentation “A Random Night at La Jolla Shore Beach, You Pick the Date it’s the Same Story Just a Different Evening.”

The presentation had pictures of the crowds that flock to La Jolla Shores. Coakley went on to explain that the increase in people brings assaults, burglary and gang activity to the area.

“Until last weekend, we didn’t have enough police in the area,” said La Jolla Shores resident Charlie Williams, who went on to explain that now there are two police officers that patrol regularly during their day.

Just a day patrol concerns business owner John Metzger. “Extra people bring extra security concerns,” he said. “The extra people are good for our business, but crowd control is necessary.”

Metzger of OEX Dive and Kayak Centers on Avenida de la Playa in La Jolla Shores and Quivira Road in San Diego, is concerned for the safety of his patrons and the security of his business after hours.

Resident Williams said that currently lifeguards have been trying to control the crowds of 20,000 to 60,000 people. “They’re being pulled from their jobs to control crowds,” he said. “That’s not safe.”

As the La Jolla Shores group presented their concerns to the mayor, his staff took detailed notes on how to proceed in addressing the issue in the future.

“Park rangers are an excellent solution,” the mayor said. “We need to get the city’s budget in order first.” The mayor also said he would like to come down to the La Jolla Shores one day to check out the situation himself.

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As soon as the La Jolla Shores group stood up and thanked the mayor for his time, another concerned resident sat at the table and began to discuss another prevalent issue along La Jolla’s shoreline - the Children’s Pool Lifeguard Station.

Resident Philip A. Merten, AIA, shared his and the community’s concern over the remodeling of the current Children’s Pool Lifeguard Station facility.

“La Jolla residents will contribute to help with the new design,” Merten said. “We just need some extra time.”

Other community members at the table shook their heads in agreement. If the city goes through with the current design, residents feel like it would not fit the area that so many people visit.

“Visually and functionally the design is an eye sore,” Merten said.

Merten explained his idea to the mayor of pushing the lifeguard locker rooms and other facilities below the surface with a glass tower above ground for lifeguard observation.

“The (public) restroom facility should be tied into the project, too,” Merten said. “Shores residents helped fund a new restroom and the community backed the new fire station, why not this (lifeguard station)?”

Mayor Sanders stressed the need for further discussion with his staff and other officials. He said he would check into the details of the facility and needed time to figure it out.

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“We need to work with the community,” Sanders said. “Look what happened when the community came together for the firehouse.”

After Merten finished sharing his issue with the mayor, more residents shared their concerns. The mayor’s office felt the hour-long community coffee was productive and community members seemed pleased with the event.

As he left the coffee house, the mayor made one last comment to address La Jollans’ concerns.

“We’ll work something out together,” he said.