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La Jollans share their resolutions for the New Year

As we move into 2009, we sampled a few La Jollans to find out what they think would help the community get through what could be a challenging year.

Here’s what they had to say:

Moving around town

Architect Mark Steele, president of M.W. Steele Group, Inc. and former head of the La Jolla Town Council, knows what he’d like to see done most to improve transportation flow in La Jolla.

“I’d like to see people learn how to use the roundabouts,” he said, “and I’d like to see them sprout up in other places in La Jolla. Traffic flows much more smoothly. The neighborhood is quieter and the community character is more cozy.”

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Orrin Gabsch, a longtime La Jolla community planner, said he believes there is one key thing that needs to be established in La Jolla if dialogue on improving traffic and circulation is to progress.

“The big word for me this year is trust,” he said. “We need to restore some trust. That’s going to take cooperation.”

Gabsch said La Jollans need to believe those working on traffic and transportation issues will do so selflessly.

“They’ve got to trust that we will be unbiased,” he said, “and that we’ll be looking out for the good of the overall community.”

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On the market

“What I would like to see next year is the credit market loosen up so that properties can be financed, and income verifications made, with normal applications by lenders,” noted longtime La Jolla Realtor Joe Klatt.

Though it’s not impossible to secure credit for home financing currently, Klatt acknowledged a prospective buyer has to have an exceedingly high credit rating to even be considered for a home loan these days.

“Banks are being super cautious because they’ve gotten burned,” he added.

But he said there are some encouraging signs that the bottom has been reached and that values and the number of properties on the market may improve.

“We’re beginning to see signs of things just beginning of a turn in rentals and the level of interest people are voicing for purchases,” Klatt said. “Investment property is starting to move now.”

Thinking of the arts

It’s budget-paring time in the local arts world. But stewards of the arts, like Hugh Davies, director of the David C. Copley Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla, promise they’ll hold the line on services while trimming expenses.

“In this current economy, all of us in the arts are having to tighten their belts, live within reduced means,” said Davies. “Some of your more ambitious hopes for your institutions need to be back-burnered as you confront the realities of remaining stable.”

Davies pointed out there’s been a drop in endowment funding of 25 to 30 percent. “Many of our most loyal supporters and contributors are experiencing contractions in their own means,” he pointed out. “They won’t necessarily be in a position to give as generously as they have in the past few years.”

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Nonetheless, Davies said patrons won’t see essential services diminished - just changed. “We want to make sure, as we prune our budgets, we do so in a way that’s not shortchanging our public,” he said.

At The Museum of Contemporary Art that change likely will translate into more permanent collections being exhibited, with fewer traveling exhibits shown.

Keeping bloom

In these austere economic times, everything possible needs to be done to promote local business. A successful case in point is the fledgling La Jolla Shores Business District, which held its first communitywide event, a fall fest, this year.

“We (merchants) wanted to band together for several reasons,” said Izzy Tihanyi, co-owner of Surf Diva who has been spearheading development of the micro business district.

“We wanted to clean up the streets, improve safety and improve communication between vendors and residents on Avenida de la Playa.”

Tihanyi said plans are in full bloom for a spring fling, tentatively scheduled for March 26.

She added, between now and the end of the holidays, Shores merchants are participating in a “Shop the Shores” campaign in which they are offering discounts, gifts and others benefits for patrons shopping locally.

Similar efforts popped up in the Village in December where merchants stayed open late on Tuesday nights and ran a special “Find the Jewel” promotion to draw shoppers.

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Gina Phillips of Adelaide’s who spearheaded the campaign said she’s hopeful merchants can band together and build on the idea for the coming year.

“If we can get the (street) lighting fixed and get more people involved, we can get the word out that La Jolla is a fun place to shop,” she said.

And as the new year starts, Promote La Jolla moves into the new year with plans for a retreat where they’ll try and figure out how best to draw people to the Village to enjoy its restaurants, hotels and shops.