La Jolla Village Merchants prep for Earth Day event and ‘La Jolla-opoly’ launch, note recurring Cove odor

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By Pat Sherman

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA) — the nonprofit group that manages business improvement district funds in the Village — discussed its upcoming La Jolla-themed board game, an Earth Day event to draw attention to Village businesses with eco-friendly practices, and the slowly returning smell at La Jolla Cove at its April 9 meeting.

Cove odor reemerges:

The LJVMA board noted that the putrid odor at La Jolla Cove — so intense in recent years that it reportedly drove customers from local restaurants and hotels — is starting to return after some relief last year due to high tides, rain and remedies employed by the city to rid the rocks above La Jolla Cove of bird and marine mammal excrement (including installation of a gate in the fence above the Cove to provide easy public access to the bluffs, which the city says has helped deter sea lions and birds from gathering and defecating there).

The city applied another treatment of microbial foam to the bluffs on April 10 that digests bird guano, in advance of last weekend’s Concours d’Elegance auto show.

However, LJVMA Executive Director Sheila Fortune noted that the city has more recently determined the smell to be generated to a larger degree by waste from a growing sea lion colony at the Cove.

LJVMA board members say they view the foam application, which costs more than $100,000 per two applications in one year, as ineffective in dealing with the current source of the smell.

La Jolla Shores attorney Norm Blumenthal represents a nonprofit organization comprised of business owners and residents that filed suit against the City of San Diego late last year for failing to rid La Jolla Cove of the odor.

Though the city responded to the group’s request to install the gate, in an e-mail Blumenthal said the organization, Citizens for Odor Nuisance Abatement, is “not satisfied with the partial relief.”

“There are still many smelly days at the Cove,” Blumenthal wrote. “We are going to court on May 16 … to ask for further relief from the city within the next 90 days or, if not provided, then a trial date.”

The group is asking the city to install stairs and handrails near the gate “so pedestrians can safely walk on the rocks and go out to the edge,” as well as $30,000 to retain a seal lion trainer who Blumenthal says can train the sea lions within 90 days to “hang out at another rock.”

In an e-mail, Stacey LoMedico, the city’s assistant chief operating officer, reaffirmed the city’s position that there is “no funding” allocated for the stairs and handrails, adding she had not previously heard of the sea lion trainer proposal. Blumenthal said his client can solve the odor problem via the stairs, rails and trainer for less then $50,000.

“The prior spraying for $150,000 was, respectfully, felony stupid and expensive,” he maintained.

LoMedico said the city has no further cliff treatments scheduled at this time.

Roll those dice:

Fortune said the LJVMA should know how much it will cost businesses to buy a space on its Monopoly-inspired La Jolla board game by the end of this week. She said they hope to have the game manufactured and ready in time for the summer tourist season at the end of June or early July.

The game (not licensed or produced by Parker Brothers), will include appropriately alternate game pieces such as a surfboard or flip-flops. Spaces will be named after local businesses or streets.

Board member and

C&H Photo

co-owner Leon Chow said he has his eye on purchasing the spot where New York Avenue would be — the last orange property and one of the most landed-on in Monopoly. Chow said he may deem it “Upper Girard Avenue” (where his store is located).

Proceeds from sales of the game (which proved a successful fundraiser for Ocean Beach’s business improvement district group) could be used as “seed money” for LJVMA to create its next big fundraising event (since the organization is currently lacking one), Fortune said.

Eco-friendly campaign:

The LJVMA partnered with San Diego-based ProductBio to kick off a “Clear and Green” campaign to highlight Village businesses with sustainable and environmentally conscious practices. Participating business will display a poster in their window or on their counter explaining how they are helping reduce trash or carbon emissions, conserving energy or selling products produced in a sustainable or environmentally friendly manner.

LJVMA will kick off the campaign during a public event,

6-8 p.m. April 22

(Earth Day) at

Mangelsen Images of Nature Gallery,

7916 Girard Ave. ProductBio posters will be displayed at the gallery, and posted inside the respective shops after the event. Wine, artisan coffee, and hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

Copy Cove

of La Jolla is lead sponsor for the program, which thus far includes more than 30 Village businesses. Other merchants interested in participating can visit

or call Angela Chen at (415) 598-8554.

Grant score bump:

Fortune said after meeting with city officials last week regarding the LJVMA’s request for $70,000 in Economic Development and Tourism Support (EDTS) grant funding, LJVMA received a score of four-minus. The organization received 50 percent of requested funds last year after receiving a score of three-plus. Fortune said she’ll know in May whether they will receive EDTS money and, if so, by how much in June.


The LJVMA is continuing its efforts to alert those doing business in the Village that they need to obtain a business tax certificate (formerly known as a business license) to operate. A portion of the fee goes back to the LJVMA to help bring customers to the Village by improving and promoting the business district through events and advertising.

Board members have been walking door-to-door to obtain this information. Fortune will meet with officials at the city treasurer’s office sometime in May to provide them with an updated list of those who have current business tax certificates. Fortune said anyone receiving a IRS form 1099 in the Village must obtain a business tax certificate.

Board member departing:

LJVMA treasurer

Justin Stewart

is leaving the board due to a promotion with OpusBank that will take him out of La Jolla.

New businesses:

LJVMA’s Economic Development Division chair Leon Chow noted five new business openings in the Village:•

Benefit Cosmetics

, 7933 Girard Ave. (formerly Georgiou)•

Fruititude smoothie and juice bar

, 7777 Girard Ave.•

Mia Cuccina Italian furnishings

, 7645 Girard Ave. (formerly Bombshell La Jolla)•

Mary’s English Kitchen

, 7918 Ivanhoe Ave., see story


  1. (formery Mr. Taco)

Richard Walker Pancake House

, 909 Prospect St. (replacing Forever Fondue)•

Ortho Mattress

, 905 Pearl St. (formerly Starbucks).

Burns Drugs closing:

All inventory is 20 percent off as the longtime pharmacy and gift shop at 7824 Girard Ave. says goodbye after more than six decades (see last week’s story at

Haute La Jolla Nights:

The LJVMA’s nighttime music and shopping events, which kicked off last year, will be reduced to four seasonal events this year. LJVMA Executive Director Sheila Fortune said the first event would likely be a pet sidewalk stroll through the Village with contests, sidewalk artists and merchant participation, sometime in June.

Volunteers needed:

Kiwanis Club of La Jolla member Trenton Bonner noted that his club’s sold-out La Jolla Half Marathon event on Sunday, April 27 is still in need of volunteers. Register at

New business assistance:

LJVMA board president Claude-Anthony Marengo again suggested that the Association could serve as a conduit to help new businesses wade through the city’s development, permitting and planning process quicker and more seamlessly. He suggested the LJVMA work with property owners, lessors and real estate agents to create a standardized sign that could be placed in the window of vacant businesses, such as the recently closed Armani Exchange (7802 Girard Ave.) to provide information about leasing opportunities, zoning regulations and a phone number for a LJVMA contact to help potential tenants work with the city.