La Jolla Town Council considers its purpose, identity

By Pat Sherman

The La Jolla Town Council (LJTC) asked its trustees and audience to help refine how its meetings are conducted during the June 12 meeting at La Jolla Rec Center.

Formed more than five decades ago by 37 disparate community groups joining together, LJTC has variously served as a chamber of commerce, a visitor’s bureau and “town hall to investigate, debate, reach consensuses and solve issues of community concerns,” its website states.

Many believe it’s time for a repurposing.

While on paper it serves as a liaison with the City of San Diego on matters concerning land use planning, beautification, traffic, parks, beaches and crime, these days it rarely engages in robust discussion of such community issues.

“Back in the ’70s there were tremendous, knock-down, drag-out fights here at the town council on big, big issues — high rises and all kinds of things going on,” longtime LJTC member and current board president, Steve Haskins, said. “Over the years it’s died down … but if the trustees’ consensus is, let’s get these issues in here, then that’s what we should be doing to motivate people to come out and say what they think.”

Trustee Mary Soriano said she would like the town council to conduct a poll — possibly in concert with local press — to determine what topics or issues the community would like the LJTC to broach during its public meetings.

“Our seats are practically empty, and most of them are filled with representatives of government (officials),” Soriano said. “The community needs to be here, in order for us to really have a purpose.”

Asked if LJTC’s meeting length is appropriate (90 minutes to two hours) trustee Maureen Murphy said, “If something really important is going on we should ride it out, discuss it, do whatever it takes.”

Trustee Ruth Yansick said speakers should be given a time limit. “In the past speakers have gone on and on … and people lose interest and miss what the purpose of the speech was,” she said.

Noting that “the old ways of having monthly meetings — sitting down, clapping — are kind of a thing of the past,” trustee Ann Kerr Bache called for more online engagement via blogs on the LJTC’s website, where trustees take turns blogging, monitoring posts and soliciting community feedback on issues of importance.

Trustee Peter Wulff suggested the group co-sponsor debates on issues — with elected officials with other groups, such as Rotary or Kiwanis, to boost LJTC’s exposure.

Haskins challenged every trustee to come up with one idea for next month’s meeting. “It can be as small as one change in the bylaws or as big as a new committee to do something,” he said.

First Vice-President Glenda Rothberg noted that the LJTC will review its bylaws in the coming months and seek some changes. Haskins said the last time LJTC voted to revise its bylaws was March 2012, and those revisions were minor.

In other LJTC news

Children’s Pool walk update:

Phyllis Minick of La Jolla Parks and Beaches Inc., who is also chair of the effort to beautify and restore the sidewalk above Children’s Pool Beach, was informed that the project is still under review by the city’s Planning Division, and has a review cycle due date of June 30. She said the city has approved allowing the walkway work to be done within the scope of several permits already approved for the new lifeguard tower under construction at Children’s Pool.

“We remain hopeful about receiving a discount on the engineering fees,” Minick said, noting that fundraising for the project will continue, as costs have risen since she conceived the project four years ago.

Minick said she learned the Children’s Pool Walk project, as well as the La Jolla Cove Pavilion (restroom restoration, see story A3) and Whale View Point project, are eligible for California Coastal Conservancy and California Coastal Trail funding.

“I have applied in the past, and you can be assured that both agencies will hear from me again,” Minick said. “Yesterday’s message from Andy Field, assistant director of San Diego Park and Rec, was an invitation to meet in July and discuss city and state funding for these Coast Boulevard improvements. We’re getting the attention we need and we’re on a roll.”

La Jolla Hat Show:

Trustee Soriano offered a presentation on this year’s La Jolla Hat Show, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 29 at Bijou French Bistro (formerly Amaya La Jolla) at 1209 Prospect St. The three-course luncheon, fashion show and shopping experience will feature handmade collections from Ann Demeulemeester, Jill Courtemanche Millinery, Greenpacha Hats and ZB Savoy Bowtie Co.

The event, to benefit the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation (started in memory of philanthropist T. Denny Sanford’s mother), is a pre-celebration for opening day (“Hat Day”) at the Del Mar Racetrack July 17. The guest with the best hat wins two tickets to the Turf Club to watch the ponies run. Tickets are $135,

or (858) 877-3160.

Drone demo:

Glyn Jones of Over the Top Shot will speak at the July 10 LJTC meeting, offering an overview of his company, which specializes in the use of drones to photograph large residential and commercial real estate properties.

Fire prevention:

Fire Captain Bob Bilz, who announced his retirement from Station No. 13 in WindanSea, reminded attendees to keep brush cleared from the perimeter of their homes. For those on canyon rims, he suggested they keep a 100-foot clearance.

“A lot of people don’t think this close to the coast that it could happen, like (it did) in Carlsbad,” Bilz said, noting that during the recent wildfires residents of Rancho Bernardo sustained less property damage than those in Carlsbad because they kept brush cleared from their homes. The public may report a home that requires brush clearance by phoning San Diego Fire’s anonymous brush/weed compliance hotline at (619) 533-4444.

Bilz said the majority of calls to his station occur between 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. when people are building bonfires at the beach that are not allowed, as there are no fire rings at WindanSea Beach.

“Kids run by the next day, the coals are still hot, they’re barefoot and they burn the bottoms of their soles,” Bilz said. “Any type of fire at the beach is not a good idea, unless it’s in a pit.”