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LJ planning board OKs Art & Wine Festival

Event would benefit three local schools

It was a humdinger of a meeting in August for La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) thanks to an uninvited guest: a hummingbird that buzzed the interior of La Jolla Rec Center for several minutes.

Trustee Greg Salmon harmlessly trapped the tired-out bird and set it free, drawing applause.

By contrast, the rest of the meeting seemed rather uneventful, though advisory board members unanimously approved plans for a two-day, community Art & Wine Festival in October. They also vetted a proposal to repeal a recently adopted policy prohibiting the group from issuing conditional approvals for projects, instead limiting board actions to either approving or denying them. Following debate, the proposal was narrowly defeated by a 9-8 vote.

At the request of La Jolla’s Traffic and Transportation Board, Sherri Ahern presented the board with a list of residents and businesses who favor her proposal to close the street in the 7400 block of Girard Avenue from Pearl Street to the south driveway of La Jolla Elementary School for an art and wine fest from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 10-11.

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She’s promoting the event as a fundraiser to benefit La Jolla’s three public elementary schools - La Jolla, Bird Rock and Torrey Pines.

“This isn’t going to be a wild shindig, said Ahern. “It’s going to be real laid back with a European flair.”

Ahern said the event will feature a fenced area with wine tastings promoting both Southern California and Northern Baja vineyards. She said festivities also will include a silent auction, live singer-songwriter entertainers, a juried art show in all media, valet parking and security. Event access will be by hand stamp.

Asked by one audience member why it was necessary for an elementary-school fundraiser to serve alcohol, Ahern replied: “Wine and art go together. A lot of people aren’t even aware of all the great wineries we have in Southern and Baja, California.”

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Ahern added that vendors will pay $175 for two days and can choose to pay another $25 as a juried fee to be competitively judged. She said general admission will be $7 for adults, $3 for children and free for children under age 2.

“We’re hoping to make $100,000,” Ahern said.

Trustee David Little said he thought Ahern picked out a good location and that he was glad to see an art festival, absent from the Village since 2000, returning.

Later in the meeting, the board clashed over Trustee Jim Fitzgerald’s successful attempt to have the group’s voting policy amended to allow up or down votes on development projects before it without attaching any conditions to approval or disapproval.

Trustees Darcy Ashley and Ray Weiss had suggested rescinding that policy since it “ties the hands” of and prevents them from explaining their rationale behind either approving or disapproving a project.

Fitzgerald defended his amendment. “A yes with conditions is a yes, but we won’t approve it unless you do this. It limits us in a way that’s not productive,” he said.

Planners suggested that Fitzgerald’s voting amendment should stand until the end of the year, and then be reconsidered again next year if the group so desires.