Give merchants a say in representation

With the latest news about Promote La Jolla —that it is facing a lawsuit if $112,070 is not paid to the city by May 10 and that its board is contemplating filing for bankruptcy — we think it is high time for somebody in City Hall to call for a timeout.

Within the next few weeks, the City Council will consider approving another budget for the La Jolla Business Improvement district, which was described as an interim solution for promotion and beautification efforts in the Village when it took what Promote La Jolla used to do. Since the city started collecting fees again from merchants and delegated an advisory role to Rick Wildman, Jennifer Clark, Daisy Fitzgerald and Glen Rasmussen, not much has been accomplished. (The hanging baskets that add sparkle to the Jewel are caught in paperwork and cleaning the streets is more than a small group of volunteers can keep up with, although Esther Viti and her crew deserve a big round of applause.)

Part of the problem is that the city is being more cautious after PLJ’s problems and it’s partly that PLJ has become a mere shell of itself with little participation from the community’s business people. As the situation stands, four people are making the ultimate recommendations to the city on how to spend the fees being collected. Granted, committee members such as the Streetscape Committee and Promotions Committee (which include the likes of Clark, Rasmussen and fellow board member Nancy Warwick as well as others) are making suggestions, but that’s a small group of voices.

If bankruptcy is the way out for the insolvent Promote La Jolla and the city approves the LJBID for another year with the same four advisers, who is giving them ideas about how to spend the money? There’s some talk of forming a new organization, but before that happens or before the council signs off on another year of the Band-Aid plan, we’d like to see Sherri Lightner or the people in the city’s Office of Small Business say, “Wait a minute.”

They should demand a vote of the 1,100 people who are paying BID fees and if they think the organization should disband or ask if they want to form a new organization.

It seems only fair that those taxed have a say in their representation.