Opinion: La Jollans know best what’s good for La Jolla

By Rick Wildman

President, La Jolla Town Council

Sherri Lightner, staff, and the City BID Council/Foundation recently hosted a BID workshop. The 1,150 members of the La Jolla BID were invited. Fourteen BID members, including seven past and present Promote La Jolla directors attended. Far more business owners enjoyed the 5 o’clock Town Council Sunsetter at Hennessey’s.

The leader of the 440-member Gaslamp BID, said we could get 40 percent of the city revenue by installing parking meters in La Jolla. One panelist recommended a car show. Presenters were united in demonstrating their ignorance of what has been accomplished by La Jolla’s volunteers.

BID council president Patrick Edwards pontificated on the success of his tiny North Park BID. Despite government “blighted area” appropriations of $660,145 during 2004-2007, North Park BID assessments dropped to 36 percent to $18,069 from its last reports of 2006-2007. Our annual BID assessments are $130,000. Edwards reported many vacant parking spaces in the Village. If the archaic BID Council does for La Jolla what it did for North Park, we are all in real trouble.

Exiting red tape, city staff took credit for yet-to-be accomplished new hanging plants and power washing. We are still lacking operational holiday lighting outlets.

Historically, 85 percent of all BID fees go to administration. Most of the prior funding for PLJ projects was from BID-member donors who dug deeply into their own pockets. Recent suggestions from community members who have kept our BID functions alive have been all but ignored — one reason we saved $95,000 from our FY2010 BID budget.

Since the La Jolla BID Advisory Board opposed the $24,000 expenditure of unbudgeted BID funds, Councilmember Lightner offered to hire a consultant from her council budget. The city BID then contracted with Consultant Mike McLauglin to learn what we know. He will meet selected BID members for coffee on Mondays.

I was blunt with him: Despite staff’s failure to implement most approved BID projects, there is unity in La Jolla. Maybe San Diego can profit from our example.