Guest Editorial: PLJ President: Get involved and get things done

By Deborah Marengo

In response to Glen Rasmussen’s guest opinion in the Oct. 11 La Jolla Light regarding Promote La Jolla, I would like to take a moment to address Mr. Rasmussen’s comments.

It is important for the readers to know that Mr. Rasmussen, a member of Promote La Jolla, has not really participated in our organization until his decision to run for a seat on the Board of Directors in 2007. I commend him for wanting to get involved, but it doesn’t take getting elected to get involved with Promote La Jolla - what it does take is time, effort and energy. As president of the La Jolla Town Council, Mr. Rasmussen only found time to attend two of our monthly meetings in his 24 months in office.

It is disappointing that a member of our organization would use the editorial pages of the paper to speak out against Promote La Jolla without coming directly to the board to voice his concerns or without getting involved at the committee level. It leads me to believe Mr. Rasmussen is only interested in stirring the pot of community drama to keep progress from coming to our corner of the world.

How long can we live in the bubble where doing nothing will somehow be the right answer? If your business did nothing, what would happen? If Mr. Rasmussen did nothing, his clients would not hire him. You don’t make decisions about your business during two years of committee meetings and countless hours of public testimony, you make a judgment call. If it’s right, you’re successful; if you’re wrong, you try another course. Our 15 board members are business owners. We just want to get things done.

On the occasion of our 20th Anniversary, I had a moment to reflect with the founders of Promote La Jolla. Twenty years ago, they had to fight tooth and nail to get the association formed. The residents fought them on every issue, and they wished that in 20 years, Promote La Jolla would have been able to accomplish more.

I, too, wish we could accomplish more. But every time Promote La Jolla has a good idea, out come the nay-sayers, whispering that we can’t be trusted. I can’t seem to figure out why we can’t be trusted. We are the group that donates to help the landscaping at the Throat, waters the hanging baskets, provides benches for customers to rest on, helps pick up the trash on Saturdays, and operates programs that help business owners expand their business. What is there not to trust? Our board has fought to increase funding for these programs so we can keep doing it in the face of rising prices. And, for every dollar from assessments, we match it with 70 cents in grant funding. What group in the community has done that?

Parking is an issue that will effect everyone, and it is not a simple issue. It is not merely a question of whether or not you want paid-parking.

It is a question of whether you want progress, ample parking for more customers, the ability to compete with our surrounding neighbors, the ability to give La Jolla the cache that it once had. Downtown and Little Italy are stealing our customers, and we want them back - not just for me, but for all our members.

The business district is an ecosystem of different kinds of merchants. Without one, the other might not survive. Merchants, you must get involved! Twenty years of apathy has let our Village fall by the wayside. Twenty years ago, the merchants suggested a parking garage - somebody killed the idea. Ten years ago, PLJ had a private investor to build a parking garage, and residents killed the proposal. It is time to wake up. Without more parking, parking options, and transportation options, our business district will continue the slow death that has been eating away at our district for the last 20 years. Without revenue to build more ample parking, subsidize mass transit, and create cheaper employee parking options, we will continue to lose our great businesses.

Promote La Jolla is an all-volunteer Board of Directors that meets monthly to make decisions about the Village and what should be done to make a better place for businesses. Our volunteer board donates countless hours to research, meetings and talking to neighbor businesses to find out what the organization can do to help the Village stay competitive.

Since the last edition of the paper, our annual elections concluded with the current incumbents being re-elected to their volunteer posts. This means our members have elected us to continue to do the good work that we do. It is my hope that the candidates that felt compelled to “jump in” and get involved, will continue to volunteer their time and serve on some of our committees. I challenge the candidates to show up to a meeting and volunteer your time to help us get some good things done. Just because you didn’t get elected, it doesn’t mean you can’t participate. We need better streets, better lighting, tenants for our vacant buildings, less pollution and more customers.

Let’s stop the talking and just get something done.