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La Jolla panel’s direction uncertain

Parks, Beaches must separate from Town Council

What’s clear is that in order to continue to advise the city on La Jolla’s coastal parks, the Parks and Beaches Committee is going to have to disassociate itself from its parent body, the La Jolla Town Council.

What’s not so clear is exactly how that’s to be accomplished: Should it be reconstituted as an independent entity or join under the umbrella of La Jolla Parks & Recreation Inc. — also known as the Rec Council — which oversees the La Jolla Rec Center. The Rec Council is a 501c3 nonprofit currently operating under a special use permit with the city technically giving it jurisdiction over La Jolla parks, though it hasn’t been exercising that authority.

How La Jolla’s numerous parks are going to be administered by its three volunteer advisory groups — La Jolla Shores Association, the Town Council and the Rec Council — has been discussed for some time. The matter is coming to a head with the city starting to enforce its policy prohibiting advisory groups with dues-paying members from making recommendations on public parks.

“Parks and Beaches needs to come out of the Town Council and become an independent committee reporting to the city having direct access,” LJTC President Earl Van Inwegen told Parks and Beaches Committee members recently. “Congratulations: You all got promoted.”

Past Town Council President Darcy Ashley noted that the city is going to give any new independent parks and beaches committee a break on group formation.

“They won’t be requiring the advisory group to be a 501c3 tax-exempt organization, but a 501c6, which is much less stringent — and expensive,” she said.

Parks and Beaches Chairwoman Michele Addington said, “The membership of this group is too small” at present to establish an independent group.

“You need a fairly large group,” Ashley agreed.

Joe LaCava, president of the La Jolla Community Planning Association, which makes land-use recommendations to the city, said local planners had to make a “compelling argument” to the city staff that La Jolla’s parks “should be treated differently.”

“Our coastal parks and beaches are unique because they’re not normal community parks,” he said. “We have (thousands of) people drawn to them aside from just our local residents.”

LaCava said the city concurred that the three advisory groups have “been operating efficiently for the last 12 years and that there isn’t a reason to change that.”

Without imposing any time deadlines, city Park and Recreation Director Stacy LoMedico told the La Jolla Parks & Recreation Inc. board on Jan. 27 that she was going to leave it up to the community to decide the fate of the Parks and Beaches Committee, but added, “I ask that you do clean it up one way or another and not let it drag.”

Following LoMedico’s remarks, Rec Council board members went “around the table” to share their comments. The consensus was that alternative proposals for realigning La Jolla parks need more time to be evaluated and vetted by the community at-large.

The council’s president, Chip Rome, said he prefers the independence option for the Parks and Beaches group.

“A number of people in our council have said we basically want to be in charge of the Rec Center,” he said. “We have never had anything to say over parks and beaches or La Jolla Shores. So why should we start now?”

Board member Hobe Schroeder disagreed.

“We have a very low profile in the community, and we need to raise our profile in order to renovate the Rec Center,” he said. “Our name is Parks and Rec. We benefit from having other parks here.”

Contact info

Those wishing to comment/question the proposed revamp plan for La Jolla parks jurisdictions should e-mail askparks@sandiego.gov.