La Jolla Village Merchants discuss proposed hotel, crackdown on illegal signs


By Pat Sherman

At its Feb. 13 meeting, members of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA) board heard from the applicant of a 54-room hotel proposed for an office building at 1020 Prospect St., site of the Madison Gallery.

The hotel would include a restaurant and spa and incorporate existing, underground parking.

At its January meeting the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance (PDO) committee postponed discussion of the project, due to concerns regarding the number of hotel rooms (it exceeds what is allowed in the commercial zone), signage, lighting, proposed building materials, window sunscreens and the question of whether umbrellas atop its roof deck would push the project beyond the Village’s 30-foot height limit.

The item would involve an intensification of use, which occurs when there is a change in a building’s usage, which is not currently allowed without an approved variance per the community’s Planned District Ordinance, or development blueprint.

In other La Jolla Village Merchants Association news

Code enforcement crackdown:

LJVMA President Phil Coller advised merchants that after years of having only one code compliance officer for the entirety of San Diego, the city is adding additional officers.

Unpermitted signage, sandwich boards, tables, flowerpots and banners intruding into the public right-of-way (PROW) will be met with written warnings and subsequent $1,000 fines, he said.

“The city has not been enforcing those codes for quite a few years,” Coller said. “Businesses will start getting letters telling them to comply. They will send you three letters (before you are fined).”

To display banners and signage within the public right-of-way, merchants must first obtain a PROW permit from the LJVMA, which is appointed by the city to manage the PROW within the business improvement district. There is an initial fee of $500 for placing tables and chairs in the PROW and $250 for flower pots, urns or other decorative items.

Annual fees thereafter are $250 and $100, respectively. The money goes toward liability insurance for the PROW, which is provided to merchants through the LJVMA.

Of the roughly 100 busi- nesses that should have a PROW permit, only a handful have them.

Budget headed to city:

The LJVMA approved its budget for fiscal year 2013-2014 at a special meeting and has submitted it to the city for approval, Treasurer Tom Brady announced.

A copy of the budget will soon be available for review on the LJVMA’s website,

Funding shortage:

Coller said LJVMA is suffering from a lack of cash- flow and is in need of money to help finish the new La Jolla Village Information Center on Prospect Street prior to its April 5-7 grand opening (which will coincide with the annual Concours d’Elegance car show).

About $6,000 to $10,000 more is needed to complete the center, Coller said.

“Otherwise everything is going as planned,” he said. “We always need money.”

Rent on the Information Center (about $9,500 per month, including utilities) will be covered by money generated from promotional use of the center, Coller said. The former Visitors Center on Herschel Avenue generated about $60,000 per year in advertising and promotions, he said, promising that Information Center revenues would be double that amount.

Twenty flat screen monitors were recently delivered to the Information Center offices, though they still need a volunteer to install them.

The LJVMA is working to determine the specs for monitor advertising, Executive Director Sheila Fortune said. The rate for advertising on a screen is $400 per month through the end of June, though that price may increase thereafter, Coller said.

“It’s very important that we monetize this space, figure out what we’re charging advertisers to display there and really figure out with every square foot what we’re doing to help the community and raise money for our organization,” LJVMA board member Robert Lane said. “We’re talking about how we’re short on cash; this is one way that we can immediately stimulate that.”

The LJVMA is planning a day in March where merchants will receive a guided tour of the space with information about advertising and promotional opportunities.

The LJVMA is currently forming a group to determine the best way to utilize available space for commercial and nonprofit uses. In the interim, board members Lane, Egon Kafka and Krista Baroudi are serving in that capacity.

Concours d’Elegance:

It was noted that Wells Fargo, which sponsored the annual auto show last year at $40,000, would not be returning as a sponsor for this year’s event. Of the three events the banking institution sponsored last year, it has only reconfirmed its commitment to sponsor the annual La Jolla Art and Wine Festival.

In addition to cars, this year’s show will include about 25 high-end motorcycles. Two Fiat vehicles will be raffled off during the event. Board member Claudette Berwin noted that tickets to last year’s auto raffle were $100 each, though they sold only 150 tickets. This year, tickets are $40 and may be available for presale.