OPINION: Local merchants need to step up

By W. Patrick Edwards

President, Business Improvement District Council

For the past few months, I have been actively working in La Jolla to assist in the reconstruction of a functioning Business Improvement District. As the president of the BID Council, we represent 16 citywide BIDs, and I am the past president of the North Park BID. I opened in North Park 40 years ago, the streets were dirty and the storefronts were empty.

In 1984, I organized the creation of a BID by walking around my business neighborhood and encouraging business owners to take back the streets. Now, 25 years later, I am proud to see North Park Main Street as representing a true renaissance in local arts culture, theater, dining and shopping. It is a direct result of BID management by local business members.

La Jolla has an established BID, and the assessments are being collected and managed properly by the city during this period of transition. However, the old organization is no longer active, and the current advisory board does not properly represent the diversity of merchants. It is time for a new, nonprofit corporation to be established, consisting of active members of the business community, to contract for control of their future. Merchants need to be involved to make the Village shine as the “jewel of the Pacific.”

In North Park, I realized that there were two general emotions as I talked to business owners: apathy and passion. Too often I was greeted with apathy. “Why should I help?” or “Nothing will ever change.” What kept me going was the occasional passionate response: “I love North Park.” “I want to help make it better.” “You can count on me.” By working together over the years, the passionate emotion won the day, and apathy died a quiet death.

It is time for those who are passionate about La Jolla to step forward and take control of their destiny. For the city to contract with a new BID organization, there must be more merchants involved by the end of this year. The merchant community needs to step up and get involved. I am directing all the assets of the BID Council to work directly with Sherri Lightner to make it as easy as possible for this effort to succeed; now we need you to join us. If you have questions about this issue, please contact your council member, Lightner, directly at (619) 236-6611 or the BIDC office at (619) 239-2437.