Future of Taste of Bird Rock under review

Taste Of Bird Rock may be no more.

At least not in its present form.

Organizers of the increasingly popular La Jolla neighborhood summer community festival announced at a meeting of the Bird Rock Community Council (BRCC) on Feb. 2 they are considering suspending “Taste Of” this year for a variety of reasons.

“The good news is Taste of Bird Rock has been wildly successful,” said Joe Parker, BRCC president. “The bad news is it’s been wildly successful.”

The event, held in July along La Jolla Boulevard between Midway Street and Camino de la Costa, has gradually evolved over the past seven years from a small-scale neighborhood affair into a large-scale happening. Originally created to promote area businesses, Taste of Bird Rock later developed into a fundraiser. Between 2005 and 2009, approximately $75,000 was raised to benefit Bird Rock Elementary School.

Ever-larger event crowds have drawn increasing police scrutiny and security concerns. Last year, there was a larger uniformed law enforcement presence on the streets and a juvenile who allegedly attempted to steal a pair of sunglasses from a local surf shop during the event was arrested and charged with petty theft and other crimes after a scuffle with police.

Felicia Parker, co-organizer of the event the past couple of years, said police and city officials were not pleased with last year’s Taste of summer block party.

“The city has been very vocal in the wake of last year’s event about security issues, crowd control and many other issues related to liability exposure,” she said, adding the BRCC has been informed that if the event were to be held again this year for an eighth consecutive year that it would have to be “substantially different.”

“We’re thinking of potentially suspending the event, or looking at a different event in a different place at a different time of the year,” added Joe Parker. “It may be necessary to do that in order to bring it back to a smaller community event.”

Felicia Parker said the escalating cost of providing beefed-up security at the event, which she said was suggested may rise from $1,000 to $5,000, is literally pricing the fundraising community event out of the market.

At last year’s Taste of Bird Rock 1,200 tickets were sold for the event which an estimated 3,000 people showed up to. Tickets entitled individuals to a food “taste” at 13 locations along the boulevard. Bands provided live music and there were street entertainers, arts and crafts, cookie decorating, face painting, carnival games and animals to pet and adopt from a rescue shelter. Children’s activities were expanded to include three large inflatable jump houses.