Concours D’Elegance raises issues of park priorities

By Dave Schwab

daves@lajollalight.com

La Jolla Concours D’Elegance got the green light to go this spring from two community planning groups despite some members questioning whether a private event in a public park is appropriate.

La Jolla Parks and Beaches and La Jolla Community Planning Association both signed off on the annual event, formerly known as the Motor Car Classic, which is a fundraiser for La Jolla Historical Society. It was started seven years ago by Promote La Jolla, which used to manage the business district.

This year the event, which has always been held on the lawn at Scripps Park at the Cove, is set this year for March 31 and April 1.

“We shouldn’t be renting the whole (Scripps) public park out — some of it should be left open,” said Melinda Merryweather, a member of the parks group.

Event promoters this year asked that they not be required to have a setback on Coast Walk, which they claimed causes “crowd cramping.”

LJCPA trustee David Little warned against allowing private groups to monopolize the park.

“That’s the problem, once you start renting public facilities out — there’s no end to it,” he said. “What if the Hell’s Angels wanted to come in and rent it out? Then you’d have a different attitude.”

At least two planning group trustees asked what the event does to benefit the community.

John Bolthouse, the Historical Society’s executive director, responded: “The event last year cost about $135,000 to put on and we grossed $179,000 and 10 percent of the $43,000 leftover went to the Monarch School (homeless charity),”

Michael Dorvillier, volunteer chair of the event, gave presentations before both community advisory groups. Noting admission is $40 at the door this year, $35 in advance, Duvalier said a real effort is being made to expand the free portion of the event while involving the business community in it.

“Part of Prospect Street is being closed this year from Jose’s all the way down to the Cove for a festival area with 50 to 75 cars and vendors that will be free,” he said.

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