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ConVis pushing to save visitor info center

If Promote La Jolla wants to continue the seven-year relationship it has had with San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau for the community’s visitor center, local business owners who have advertised there before will have to do so again.

PLJ, the former business improvement district which has operated as a nonprofit without city funding since June, has one more worry: how to keep its information center kiosk at 7966 Herschel Ave. alive until it can find funding on its own or under terms of a proposed new agreement with the city.

Under the operating agreement, ConVis has been responsible for staffing the La Jolla Visitor Center while rent and operating expenses have been covered by PLJ. Now that PLJ is in financial limbo, it can no longer meet its rent obligations for the visitor center.

“As a result, the information center is in jeopardy of imminent closure if replacement funding cannot be identified to cover the rent,” ConVis Chief Executive Officer Joe Terzi wrote in an Oct. 26 letter to encourage merchants to sign on again.

He wrote that they are trying to avoid rate increases, but can only do so if all current advertisers renew their ad contracts.

La Jolla businesses that have advertised at the kiosk include La Valencia, Azul, La Jolla Cove Suites, The Grande Colonial, Crabcatcher and Georges California Modern.

Terzi’s letter set a Nov. 20 deadline for renewing contracts.

Sue Mason, Convis director of visitor services, who talked to PLJ’s board in October about the situation, wrote in an e-mail last week that 31 merchants received the letter.

She said there’s a $4,500 annual cost for a backlit ad spot at the visitor center and a $600 per year cost to place a brochure in the racks. There are eight backlit advertising spots and 36-plus brochure rack spaces available at the center.

Mason said ConVis is proposing to PLJ a continuation of cost-neutral operations.

“We don’t make money on it, but we have to cover our expenses,” she said. “The goal is to make enough money with the advertising fees to cover the cost of renting the kiosk booth. If everyone signs their (ad) contracts and pays, we in theory will have enough to pay the rent for a couple more months, at least until PLJ gets back on its (financial) feet.”

“It’s not going to leave, I’m very optimistic,” said PLJ President Rick Wildman of the center’s fate, noting that the current lease agreement can be terminated upon 90 days notice by either the lessor, Peter Waggener, or PLJ.

Wildman said the lease will be on the agenda for discussion at the next Promote La Jolla board meeting, at 3 p.m. Nov. 10 at the La Jolla Library, 7555 Draper Ave.