La Jolla business district advisers object to cost of merchant survey


By Kathy Day

Staff Writer

The cost of a questionnaire being sent to merchants under the auspices of the city-managed La Jolla Business Improvement District has raised the ire of several of the appointed advisers.

Even as the city staff members handling the district’s operations reported progress on hanging baskets and sidewalk cleaning, their efforts to gauge merchants’ interest and ideas for the Village district prompted Rick Wildman to object to spending nearly $30,000 on a survey and followup efforts.

“Everybody in the community knows what needs to be done,” he said at the Oct. 13 LJBID meeting that followed the meeting of Promote La Jolla — which used to have the contract to run the district. He contended the city staff was using money meant to hire an executive director and that the allocation was “never approved by the city council or the advisory council.”

In a letter sent Monday to Councilwoman Sherri Lightner he also asked why funds budgeted to support the Nov. 11 Gallery & Wine Walk appear to have been dropped from the spending plan.

Meredith Dibden-Brown, director of the Office of Small Business which the city council authorized to run the district until financial issues surrounding PLJ are resolved, said on Oct. 13 the money for the survey was in the budget and would be used to print and mail the survey and hire someone to follow up in person over the next several months.

There was also disagreement over a motion from the previous month’s meeting seeking help from the Business Improvement District Council included the survey.

Wildman continued to object, saying, “It’s like Congress …there’s no accounting here.”

He also interrupted a presentation by Councilwoman Sherri Lightner who was presenting information on the Oct. 21 meeting about how other business districts function. (It will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. at the La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.)

“Excuse me, ma’am,” he said, objecting to what he said was an end-around to efforts he has already initiated to form a new group. In April, Wildman filed papers with the state for the “La Jolla Business Improvement District” and has been working with some people — including some members of the Town Council, which he also heads — to get it off the ground.

His efforts have been stymied, he added, by a lack of funds needed to pursue the tax-exempt status and get by-laws written.

Lightner said she would show a breakout of the planned expenses and encouraged Wildman and others to attend the meeting.

Glen Rasmussen, another of the LJBID advisers, said he though Lightner’s idea for a meeting was a good one, but added “paying $30,000 puts the cart before the horse …. Let’s have the meeting. If no one shows up, then maybe a survey would be good.”

Complete the survey and return it to BID Council, 1010 Second Ave., Suite 1835, San Diego, CA 92101, or e-mail to