La Jolla cityhood organizers taking word to streets


Organizers of the Independent La Jolla movement, concerned that the word is not getting out about their efforts to pursue cityhood, plan to step up their information campaign.

Michele Addington, a spokeswoman for the group, got to the point: “Involvement of the community is the first thing we need to address.” At this point, she added, there are about 300 people who are interested.

Mike Costello, a member of the La Jolla Community Planning Association Board and Bird Rock Community Council member, said when he talks to his friends who are veterans — “voting voters” — they start laughing.

“The perception is that La Jolla is (the city’s) cash cow ... or they will listen if they see it as a way out of San Diego’s cash-strapped situation,” he said.

He stressed the importance of getting the message out that “we’re not just leaving (San Diego) in a lurch. It’s a real benefit to the rest of the city.”

While others agreed, there is “no easy route” and that there’s “a huge uphill battle to overcome,” it took some talking to get to a consensus that they have to move on several options at the same time.

One of the next steps, they agreed, should be a communitywide gathering with residents of La Jolla’s 14 distinct neighborhoods invited. Others should be merging e-mail lists from existing organizations to spread the word and moving ahead with technical issues such as getting boundary maps done.

The meeting started with the group of about a dozen people breaking into groups focusing on how to raise funds, how to approach the state Legislature about raising money and how to get the community involved.

But when Melinda Merryweather, who has been part of the drive to split La Jolla from the city for many years, said she had a “change of heart about going to the Legislature,” the direction of the meeting changed.

Some thought it would be best to get other small communities who want to split off to join a statewide push to change the law that requires the whole city to vote on allowing a small piece to secede.

Rick Wildman, a newly elected La Jolla Town Council trustee and president of Promote La Jolla, said “lawyers around town are” already talking about a plan to pull the community together by organizing a 92037 business group and a maintenance assessment district that would address issues of interest to residents. He said the groups could be separate entities under the town council.

“We have to have a precursor rather than a quantum leap, “ he said. “We have to have a community organization that performs all the functions (of a city.)”

Others disagreed with that approach and went back to talking about how to obtain independence: polling La Jolla residents to see what support exists for their plan, a sue the state to get the law changed or to seek someone who would carry a bill to change the law.

As it stands, petitions must be circulated and voters in both La Jolla in one measure and all of San Diego in another would have to approve the plan. It would also require an updated fiscal analysis — one done several years ago concluded La Jolla would have enough money to support itself and “pay alimony” to San Diego for the impact of the pullout.

The group agreed they should make themselves available to talk to community groups like Rotary and Kiwanis and figure out how to raise money to take the next steps. They should also start contacting other communities considering similar actions, they said, although no specific assignments were made.

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