Cracking Up: La Jolla merchants group again admonishes shopkeepers to fix sidewalks

To report dangerous sidewalks


San Diego’s Street Division at (619) 527-7500 or request a repair online at

By Pat Sherman

During the Aug. 14 meeting of La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA), board members grappled with the problem of the Village’s increasingly blighted public right-of-way (PROW) — and the seeming disregard of business owners to keep the spaces in front of their shops trash- and weed-free, and their portions of the sidewalk free of holes and cracks.

LJVMA Board President Phil Coller said that more than 90 percent of the responsibility for upkeep of the PROW and sidewalk is passed on from the building owner to his or her tenant via the lease agreement — whether the tenant realizes it or not.

“We have made this point many times before,” Coller said. “In almost every instance, the tenant of the property takes on that responsibility with the lease they sign. While they may think that their landlord has (that) responsibility, it was probably passed on to them.

“It’s no good complaining to the merchants association about the sidewalk. You need to look at your lease, talk to your landlord, and make a plan to fix it, because you’re liable if anybody trips.”

LJVMA board member Leon Chow noted that residents and business owners can call the city’s Street Division at (619) 527-7500 to report sidewalks that pose an immediate trip-and-fall hazard.

“They literally will come out within 48 hours to inspect it and do what they can immediately,” Chow said, noting that a city employee just patched the sidewalk south of his store (C&H Photo on upper Girard Avenue) with black asphalt.

Though there are some instances in which the city may take responsibility for the sidewalk, such as when damage is caused by the roots of a city-owned tree within the PROW, both city and state law places the onus of the burden for maintaining sidewalks on the property owner (who may pass it along to a renter through the lease.)

“City law says the city may — and I emphasize


— come out and make temporary repairs, if they deem it to be a problem,” Coller said. “But, again, it is the responsibility of the property owner and probably the tenant to fix it.”

Coller also noted that the LJVMA has received complaints about trash and debris on the sidewalks, and that public trash bins are overflowing and unclean. While the LJVMA will do its best to keep on top of the trash bins, it is ultimately the city’s responsibility, he said.

“If we start spending our funds solving a city issue, they will never come out again,” Coller said. “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything about it — and I would request that every business, resident and visitor in La Jolla that feels offended by the mess call the city and tell them. We have to get action from the city to do the job that we’re all paying taxes (for).”

Car Charging Stations:

Also during the meeting, Jacques Chirazi with the City of San Diego’s economic development department and Clean Tech Program, asked merchants to consider what locations might be suitable in La Jolla to install electric car charging stations.

Chirazi said there are currently 345 charging stations on public and private land in San Diego, or about 400 countywide.

The charging stations are typically located at libraries, parks, recreation centers or on other city property, Chirazi said. However, if city property is not feasible, the city then looks at partnerships with private property owners and, as a last resort, considers locating them on city streets.

Chirazi told

La Jolla Light

older model electric cars can get about 11-12 miles for an hour of charging, while newer models can get about 24 miles per hour of charging. The stations are for people to charge their vehicles enough to extend their trips, though not for people to park their cars and charge them all day, he said.

Chirazi said the city tentatively considered installing a charging station along seven parking spaces on Herschel Avenue near Torrey Pines Road, though it was deemed too costly.

Another was proposed for Kline Street near Mary, Star of the Sea church, which was also abandoned after negative feedback from residents and parishioners (mainly due to potential traffic impacts).

Coller and board member Trenton Bonner suggested the city consider renting space for a charging station from the operator of one of the Village’s private parking lots (Ace Parking and Sunset Parking Service), which they said are frequently more than half empty.

Chirazi told the


that the Vons grocery store parking lot on Girard Avenue would be and “ideal” location for a charging station. “I’m surprised some of the hotels are not offering (charging stations) for their guests,” Chirazi said.

Chirazi said that for the public to become “confident” in electric car technology, and transition from combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles or hybrids, the city has to build a reliable system of support infrastructure.

Though community member Sherry Ahern said she believed electric cars to be an important component of the region’s evolving alternative energy solution, she said parking on La Jolla streets is already too scarce.

“The only reason why we choose on-street (locations) is because we have no place else to put them,” Chirazi said. “On-street is the last resort.”

LJVMA member Tom Brady suggested Chirazi bring the issue to La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation city advisory committee to get its input on potential locations.

“I’m quite sure if it’s explained properly there will be a tremendous amount of community support for electric vehicles,” Brady said.

In other LJVMA news

Parking input sought

: Dan Allen, chair of the Coastal Access and Parking Board, said his committee is seeking input on how to best spend upwards of $400,000 in developer impact fees intended to improve access to the coast and parking in the Village.

The money, amassing since the early 1990s, must be spent in a reasonable amount of time to avoid the city using it for other purposes.

“We need a list of good ideas of effective ways to spend $300,000 or $400,000 that will have lasting effects on coastal access and parking,” Allen said. “We’re taking about using that fund maybe as leverage for grants.”

— E-mail suggestions to

Art & Wine Festival

: Sherry Ahern, founder of the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival (Oct. 12-13 along Girard Avenue) offered a presentation on this year’s event. Ahern said the free event is still in need of sponsors and volunteers, though the 179 vendor slots are all booked up.

The event draws about 30,000 people to the Village. Proceeds benefit La Jolla’s three public elementary schools and one middle school. Last year’s event netted about $26,000 for each of the schools, Ahern said.

— To volunteer or become a sponsor, visit

Merchants partner with Concours

: The LJVMA unanimously approved a promotional partnership with the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance for its 10th annual event, April 11-13, 2014 in Ellen Browning Scripps Park.

Proceeds from the event benefit La Jolla Historical Society and the Monarch School.

Coller said the LJVMA hopes to utilize the area of Prospect Street between Herschel and Girard avenues that is normally closed off during the event to give people a taste of what the city-approved Belvedere Promenade project would look like once complete. The project would remove traffic from one side of Prospect and replace it with a pedestrian-only area where visitors could gaze at the ocean and enjoy café seating.

Haute Nights

: Coller said no Business Improvement District (BID) funds are being used to produce the LJVMA’s monthly Haute La Jolla Nights music and shopping events in the Village, as some business owners have suggested.

“We’ve budgeted BID funds to be used if necessary, (but) they aren’t being used,” Coller said. “We have had some comments from businesses that we should be spending the money in a different way, but we’re not spending (BID) money at all.”

Volunteer needed

: The LJVMA is seeking a volunteer to serve as its representative to La Jolla’s Planned District Ordinance advisory committee, which assures signage and façade changes are in accordance with the aesthetics of La Jolla’s Planned District Ordinance (blueprint for development). If interested, call Sheila Fortune at (858) 454-5718.