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New voices ring out in 2010 in La Jolla

Several new voices are likely to be heard in the growing “community” chorus reverberating into 2010 in the Jewel.

  • A voice of reason in community planning,

Joe LaCava

, president of both La Jolla Community Planning Association and Bird Rock Community Council in 2009, will likely continue to be a community moderator in 2010.

Amid the growing ground-swell of support for La Jolla becoming its own city — or at least having more say in local government — LaCava is a staunch supporter of grass-roots democracy. Noting that residents tend not to get involved in civic discourse unless things start “drifting in the wrong direction,” LaCava believes it’s a period of “heightened awareness” for La Jollans.

“They’re engaged and involved and realize they can influence City Hall and the decision-makers,” he said, adding, “Motivated people believe they can make a difference.”

La Cava is one of them.

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Tim Lucas

emerged on the scene near the end of 2009 as a voice of change initiating a years-long process to revise the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance (PDO), the community’s blueprint for commercial and residential development.

Not updated since 1975, there is a growing sentiment in the Shores that the PDO is outdated and needs immediate revision.

“The trick is to be consistent,” said Lucas of the aim of planning review, noting there are presently “pockets” of Shores development where nonconforming structures (three stories, greater than allowed bulk and scale, etc.) dwarf smaller, conforming development exemplifying the community’s desired village character.

Lucas has chaired several forums to gather community input and reach consensus on the primary concerns and characteristics of a PDO revision.

Three new faces have lent their voices to humanitarian concerns in the Jewel:

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Josh Billauer

said he wanted to have an impact on the world when he graduated from UCSD in 1998. Now with Bryan-Billauer-Kozo Financial Strategies Group of Wells Fargo Advisors in La Jolla, he’s making that statement professionally as well as societally.

He was still a student when his brother, Jesse, was injured in a surfing accident that left him a quadriplegic. Recognizing the need for awareness and funding for spinal cord injury research, he co-founded Life Rolls On, a nonprofit that also supports an adaptive surfing program.

In September, having already raised more than $2 million, the organization merged with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

Billauer, who now serves on the Reeve Foundation board and chairs a committee to provide guidance for its West Coast office, said 2010 should be a year in which he hopes to “create top-of-mind awareness” about spinal cord injuries and the organization.

  • Ex-Marine and author

Jay Kopelman

has begun a surf camp benefiting children of the military called Little Warriors. It’s an outgrowth of Freedom Is Not Free, an organization dedicated to assisting wounded service members, their families and the families of the fatally wounded.

Kopelman envisions changing the focus of military humanitarian aid from just “giving money” to people in need to providing “unique and rewarding opportunities” to children who’ve lost a parent, had one wounded or been separated from them due to deployment.

Kopelman would like to expand the surf camp concept to include snowboarding and other sports. The whole point, he said, is to give children “an escape from the daily reminders of what makes them different,” allowing them to share their experiences with peers in a safe environment.

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Tresha Souza

is a Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church parishioner who in 2009 started feeding programs for the homeless in La Jolla and elsewhere along the coast. Her future goal is ambitious: feeding and serving the homeless and needy by establishing a permanent facility. Her dream embraces an all-inclusive facility providing them with basic services such as showers and laundry, while feeding them in an on-site kitchen as well as furnishing them with rehabilitation and job-training services.

Noting that 80 percent of the population is “situationally homeless,” Souza said she believes the solution to rehabilitating them lies in breaking their downwardly spiraling cycle.

  • The “voice of La Jolla,”

Ron Jones

, a well-known local DJ and commentator, got a new assignment last year: director of the Riford Center. As such, it will be his job to complete an ongoing metamorphosis in the institution’s look, feel, purpose and reach.

“It’s not a senior center anymore — it’s an adult center for all of La Jolla,” Jones said.

In recent months, the Riford Center has undergone an extensive remodel that has included repainting, addition of a new full-service kitchen with catering and teaching capabilities, and a refurbishment of the center’s great room to enlarge and enhance its public meeting space.

Jones has two more immediate goals for the Riford: building membership and fundraising to replace the center’s dwindling endowment.

Look for him to find creative and imaginative ways to do both in the upcoming year.

  • Another voice to be heard in 2010 will be that of new UCSD Medical Center Chief Executive Officer

Thomas E. Jackiewicz

, who will also be responsible for managing UCSD’s Hillcrest facility, Thornton Hospital, Moores UCSD Cancer Center, Shiley Eye Center and the Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center, scheduled for completion in 2011.

“We are the only academic medical center in the region, offering a level of expertise that only we can provide,” Jackiewicz said. “I look forward to fostering our established relationships and forging new partnerships with the local, national and global communities we serve.”

Strong voices will continue to ring out in the arts community as well.

  • As the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus continues its 55th season, the ensemble and Music Director

Steven Schick

are worth a look — in case you haven’t already figured out that they are bringing new energy to the local music scene.

As Schick puts it: “Other orchestras and choruses may perform more concerts, but few, if any, perform such a variety of work. This ensemble has a gas pedal; it can go from zero to 60 in a few rehearsals to perform works outside of the traditional repertoire at a very high level.”

Since joining LJS&C in 2007, Schick has been true to his reason for coming here: “I care about the music being made in our community, and I feel an arts organization should lead rather than follow.”

Watch for them to bring more new music, artists and composers to San Diego audiences, pairing contemporary and classical repertoire in innovative programming.

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Michael S. Rosenberg,

who stepped in as managing director at the La Jolla Playhouse in April, looks to build on his partnership with Artistic Director Christopher Ashley as they plan for the 2010-11 season and beyond.

Rosenberg also will continue to build on the Playhouse’s reputation as a leader and innovator in the American theater that moves plays from the West Coast to Broadway. (“Memphis” and “Jersey Boys” are currently running in the East.)

Rosenberg is looking forward to a jam-packed year with two special engagements topping off the already busy performance schedule — Aurelia Thierree and her mother Victoria Thierree Chaplin’s “Aurelia’s Oratorio” and John Leguizamo’s “Diary of a Madman.” Add to that the Performance Outreach Program (POP) tour — the Playhouse’s annual touring production for young audiences — which has sold out its in-school performances for the first time in Playhouse history. (Tickets are still available for the public performances at the Playhouse on March 20 and 21.)

2009 ‘watch’ scorecard

Here’s a sampling of what our People to Watch in ’09 accomplished.

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Jennifer Clark:

As vice president of Promote La Jolla, the owner of Maudlin had her hands full. She took office with a slate of new directors early in 2009, and as tensions heightened between the old and new board members, she served as the calming influence. After the city’s audit in June clouded the business organization’s future and nearly all of the previous board members resigned or finished out their terms, she wouldn’t give up. She worked with three other executive committee members, Councilwoman Sherri Lightner’s office and the city’s Office of Small Business to come up with a budget and a plan for a new La Jolla Business Improvement District. Stay tuned.

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Christine Forester:

This La Jolla businesswoman continues to jet back and forth across the U.S. in her role as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities as well as her work with Organizing for America’s National Finance Committee, the Common Purpose Project and the Unity Fund. She continues to be excited about President Obama’s “transformational” administration and sees a bright future for San Diego’s technology industries.

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Christopher Ashley:

The La Jolla Playhouse artistic director continued to put his innovative stamp on this local arts giant. Among his accomplishments: directing

the world premiere of Claudia Shear’s “Restoration,” which was hailed by the Wall Street Journal as “one of the best new American plays” and will be headed for Off-Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop this spring. He also teamed up with Michael Rosenberg on the hit musical “Bonnie Clyde” and took his acclaimed La Jolla Playhouse production of “Memphis” to Broadway, where it opened to rave reviews in October.

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Christopher Beach:

It was a busy year for La Jolla Music Society’s president and artistic director, between regular productions, the stunning lineup for SummerFest 2009 and making plans for the Chopin Bicentennial programs this year.

  • Two others among the diverse 2009 group took paths out of San Diego during 2009:

Deb Neuman,

who joined UCSD as vice chancellor for external relations in late 2008, left the university so that she could return to Atlanta with her husband, Paul, who suffered a stroke. In announcing Neuman’s departure, Chancellor Marye Anne Fox said the couple had " a strong family support network” there. Because of the state budget situation, Neuman was not replaced.

Richard Liekweg,

who had been chief executive officer at the UCSD Medical Center since 2003, departed for a post as group president of Barnes-Jewish HealthCare and president of its main hospital and West County Hospital. The St. Louis-based Barnes-Jewish Hospital is the largest hospital in Missouri.

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Tim Golba:

This community planning trustee-turned-city planning commissioner got to deal with some new high-profile projects in 2009, including the UTC mall expansion, and in 2010 will deal with at least one old one: the Children’s Pool’s seal rope.

An architect, Golba has weighed in on development projects seeking ways to make building design more “green” and sustainable, with an eye toward making communities more walkable. Looking ahead, in the absence of new development due to the recession, he foresees a “retooling” of the marketplace with infill projects predominating, posing a challenge for community planners seeking to integrate that development harmoniously into its surroundings.

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Sherri Lightner:

Hitting the ground running responding to a U.S. Marine Corps plane crash in a residential neighborhood minutes after being inaugurated, the 1st District city councilwoman brought her populist, grass-roots approach to City Hall. It didn’t get any easier as she had to deal with such weighty issues as coping with a massive city budget shortfall, cleaning up the fiscal mess left with Promote La Jolla and finding funds to begin long-awaited Torrey Pines Road corridor improvements.

Noting “a straight line is the most efficient way to get between two points,” Lightner also opposed a “meandering” preferred route for the southernmost leg of California’s proposed $40 billion high-speed train network that would take it through University City.

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Trenton Bonner:

It was a tall order to fill, but commercial Realtor and La Jolla Kiwanis Club President Trenton Bonner followed through on his pledge to successfully promote the club’s signature community events, headlined by the club’s spring Half Marathon. The proof was in the bottom line. Under Bonner’s stewardship, the April 2009 foot race generated $190,000 in net proceeds — up from $115,000 the previous year — despite the recession, all of which goes into the club’s foundation that supports charitable causes. Bonner also helped promote the nonprofit La Jolla Town Council’s Christmas Parade, which raised approximately $6,000 more than last year and will be rolled over into staging next year’s event.

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John Bolthouse

: The executive director of La Jolla Historical Society had his hands full shepherding the group through one of its most “transformative” years. The past year saw work start on redeveloping Wisteria Cottage and its grounds to provide pubic meeting space, as well as converting the carriage house below the society offices for archival storage. Fulfilling its primary mission of championing preservation of La Jolla’s rich architectural heritage, the society under Bolthouse’s leadership took on a new role: promoting and hosting the Motor Car Classic car exhibit at the Cove — raising the group’s profile, both within and without the community.

— Kathy Day and Dave Schwab