La Jolla merchants plan to clean Village with new 'Sparkle & Shine' campaign

Board election is Oct. 8; meet the candidates 5-7 p.m. Sept. 30 at We Olive on Prospect

EDITING NOTE: The original version of this story stated that the La Jolla Town Foundation is under the auspices of the La Jolla Community Center. In fact, the La Jolla Town Foundation is its own, separate a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation.

During the La Jolla Village Merchants Association’s (LJVMA) Sept. 10 meeting at the Cuvier Club, the group’s elected board members considered an array of proposals, including a fundraising plan to clean Village sidewalks and to bring next year’s Fashion Week San Diego event to downtown La Jolla.

• Board Election Day

The LJVMA board, which works to woo shoppers and tourists to La Jolla’s business improvement district (BID), will undergo a dramatic change next month, when 10 open seats on the 15-member board will be filled.

There are 15 candidates vying for the seats (after Finch’s Bistro and Wine Bar owner Marshall Ravden pulled out of the race this month).

Only one person per business within LJVMA’s BID boundaries is eligible to vote, and must cast his or her ballot in-person during the group’s annual election, 8:30-10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8 at Cuvier Club, 7776 Eads Ave.

Anyone from one of the approximately 1,200 BID members wishing to vote must assure their business tax certificate (business license) fee has been paid for the current year, as of Sept. 30, 2014. They must also provide a copy of their business tax certificate or the following information: business name (doing business as), business address, business tax certificate number and San Diego rental tax certificate number (which will be verified off a list provided by the city treasurer’s office).

Voters may select as many as 10 candidates (the number of open seats).

For more than a year, the LJVMA has been proactively trying to recoup revenue needed to achieve its objectives, by informing business owners that they must pay their annual business tax certificate fee — something they say some business owners are not aware of.

During the meeting, one such merchant, Lauren Lahaye, owner of Lolo clothing boutique on Girard Avenue, said she recently received a violation notice from the city stating that she owes $350 a year in back business taxes for not filing her business tax certificate, plus $200-per-year in late fees.

“If you can just take away the late fees, I’ll pay the $350 a year that I owe,” she said. “It’s a lot of money that you’re asking from a small business owner.”

LJVMA board President Claude-Anthony Marengo noted that the merchants association merely manages the funds and thus she would have to make her request to the city, though Marengo said he would ask the city’s BID advocate if waiving late fees is possible.

Lahaye said her husband pressure cleans the sidewalk in front of her store every three months, and noted other merchants in the vicinity are not taking the same initiative.

“It looks silly because ours is neat … but then all the others look awful,” she said, further questioning how her annual BID assessment is used (the amount is based on a business’s location, size and number of employees).

LJVMA Executive Director Sheila Fortune noted BID money is used to staff LJVMA’s Information Center on Prospect Street, and for promotions and aesthetic touches, such as hanging flower baskets. Marengo said the board’s executive committee is studying the possibility of instituting additional revenue-generating programs to increase money for this goal.

“(The BID assessment) is not a large sum of money, but we’re trying to fix that — not on the backs of small retailers, but in a way that we can better parlay the money that we get with government money so we can do some bigger things,” Marengo said, urging attendance at an upcoming mixer to better understand the vision of board candidates. The social gathering is 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30 at We Olive, 1158 Prospect St.

• Sparkle & Shine Campaign

The focus of one LJVMA board member, Warwick’s Bookstore owner Nancy Warwick, is to clean long-neglected sidewalks in the Village of La Jolla via a new “Sparkle & Shine” campaign. Those who donate to the program will have their names displayed on one of the LJVMA’s promotional banners posted throughout the Village.

“Forever, many businesses wanted to have their name on a banner, which isn’t (normally) allowed by city code,” Warwick said, noting that banners are typically used to promote nonprofit organizations or community events.

During the Sparkle & Shine campaign, from December to March, residents and business owners can purchase an eight-foot-tall banner with their name on it for $400 a month. If they decide to purchase three banners, one of them will be located on Torrey Pines Road, where more than 35,000 vehicles travel each day, Warwick explained.

Anyone purchasing three or more banners — to be displayed in one month or spread out over several — will receive a 20-percent discount.

The money will be deposited in the account of the La Jolla Town Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. The funds cannot be used for any purpose other than cleaning the Village of La Jolla. The donation is tax-deductible, with only 15 percent going towards banner production.

Those who have purchased banners thus far include: Capital Growth Properties, La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, Bowers Jewelers, Sigi’s boutique, Girard Gourmet, Grande Colonial Hotel, Geppetto’s Toys, Eddie V’s restaurant, La Jolla Art and Wine Festival founder Sherry Ahern, Marian Warwick, Warwick’s Bookstore and the La Jolla Light.

For more information, call (858) 454-5718 or e-mail info@lajollabythesea.com

In other LJVMA news:

Clutter caveat: President Marengo noted that code enforcement is cracking down on those who place sandwich boards, flower pots and other items in the public right-of-way without first paying the proper PROW fee to the LJVMA.

“They’re doing visits in the morning,” he said. “We want to make sure that they don’t catch any merchants by surprise.”

La Jolla Cove Pavilion: La Jolla Parks & Beaches member Patrick Ahern gave a presentation on a proposal to replace the shoddy, roughly 50-year-old restroom at La Jolla Cove.

Ahern said such support will help organizers in their quest to solicit donations needed to complete a roughly $30,000 schematic design, which still needs $26,000 by the end of this month, he said.

The proposal calls for replacing the existing, 1,100-square-foot restroom with an 1,800- to 2,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art “comfort station,” to include six additional unisex bathrooms and expanded gathering space.

Although La Jolla Cove is getting a new lifeguard station (currently under construction) Ahern said the existing bathroom is a visual travesty in the upscale tourist destination of La Jolla. “It smells, it’s moldy, it’s dirty. … It looks like hell,” he said. “Something needs to be done. It’s falling apart, literally.”

The new restroom would be relocated closer to the street to open up the view corridor in Scripps Park, in accordance with the La Jolla Community Plan.

A selection committee composed of engineers, architects, swimmers, divers and others with an interest in Scripps Park selected San Diego-based Safdie Rabines Architects to design the new facility, which has an estimated pricetag of $1-1.3 million.

Following Ahern’s presentation, the so-called La Jolla Cove Pavilion project received the LJVMA’s unanimous support.

To donate to the project, contact Judy Adams Halter at (619) 890-3284 or HalterJAH@aol.com, or Ahern at (858) 220-9001 or AhernGroup@gmail.com

Fashion Week in La Jolla? Allison Andrews with Fashion Week San Diego made a proposal to move the event to downtown La Jolla on a trial basis in 2015.

Fashion Week, which draws designers from around the world to San Diego, would take place in a white tent, to be erected for one week on Wall Street, between Girard and Herschel avenues.

Runway events would be 6-9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 2015. Andrews said the tent could be used earlier in the day for cross-promotions with local merchants and restaurateurs.

A motion to support the event passed unanimously, although it was noted that Andrews will also have to present her proposal to La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation committee and other advisory groups to secure their approval.

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