Independent LJ group to focus on education, strategy


Former Congresswoman Lynn Schenk spent some time last week trying to open the eyes of those who want to make La Jolla its own city.

Speaking at a gathering of the Independent La Jolla group, she said the task can be done, but added, “Unless a significant majority of homeowners in La Jolla get involved and support this, it’s not going to happen.”

Saying she believed in the cause and wasn’t just a visitor, she estimated it would take 70 percent to 80 percent of community members getting involved with both time and money to support lobbying and grass-roots efforts to get the job done.

She has supported the concept of changing state law governing how a portion of a city separates from its “mother” city, which for La Jolla under current law would require getting a majority vote on ballots both in La Jolla and all of the city of San Diego. That, she and others have said, is an insurmountable obstacle.

As she answered questions, it became clear that the interim board - which includes Melinda Merryweather, Michele Addington and Richard Smith who were all involved in a previous campaign that never got off the ground - needed to regroup a bit.

Some of the 30 or so who attended the meeting at the La Jolla Library on Aug. 12, questioned whether some sort of local polling, either formal or informal might be a good start so they could find out if the support that Schenk said is needed exists.

Some balked at Independent La Jolla’s proposed membership structure that calls for a minimum “membership” fee of $100 to join the 501(c)4. After some discussion of lowering the fee to $20, the group took an advisory vote and recommended no fee be charged and that only donations be solicited.

(Since its 501(c)4 status only enables it to collect dues, the group is applying for 501(c)3 status that would allow it to take tax-deductible donations.)

Realtor Beth Kaplan Longley, who said she and a group of local people worked to help raise money to build the Coggan Aquatic Center at La Jolla High School, called it “a lot of hooey that you can’t” (raise the money without dues).

“You just have to get out there with a lot of people,” she added.

Discussion also focused on “what’s in it for us” and the importance of explaining the benefits of cityhood in order to gain support. Some emphasized the need for formal or informal polling before moving on.

One man said “939 Coast is on my list” because of his frustration of not being able to stop the large condo development overlooking the ocean.

Another said while he hadn’t thought about police and fire response times, an issue Schenk had raised, until that moment, but said it was likely a key concern for many.

The board agreed to go back and restructure membership and to refine ideas on community education and legislative strategies.

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