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Parking board must file statements to avoid conflict of interest

La Jolla’s controversial local parking board will have to set aside its discussions about possibly implementing paid on-street parking in the Village for at least a couple months.

The La Jolla Community Parking District Advisory Board was advised at its Dec. 19 meeting that its members would have to file statements of economic interest. Deputy City Attorney Michael Calabrese informed the board that it could not hold any substantive discussions or take any official actions until the statements, which are intended to reveal conflicts of interest, are completed.

The delay could take months because Calabrese said his office would create a customized statement of economic interest code that would only require board members to disclose economic interests germane to the parking issue, rather than filling out the entire Form 700 required of other public officials.

Calabrese said requiring board members to fill out the entire Form 700 would result in unecessary disclosures and could raise questions about the board members’ right to privacy. Board member Ray Weiss said he and other board members would have reconsidered their service on the board had they been required to fill out the form in its entirety.

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“Mark Evans decided that if he had to fill out Form 700, that would be the end of his public service,” Weiss said. “It’s quite lengthy.”

Instead, board members will be subject to a customized disclosure code that will have to be approved by the City Council.

“It might be realistic to think that by February, it should be ready to go,” Calabrese said.

There had previously been some question as to whether the board would have to make any disclosures at all. The main issue was whether the board could be defined as purely advisory, which would have exempted it from the disclosure requirments mandated by California’s Political Reform Act.

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“My understanding is that this board doesn’t make decisions - it makes recommendations to the City Council, which makes decisions,” Weiss said.

Calabrese said the board’s powers could not be defined as solely advisory.

“The way the powers are divided gives this board direct decison-making authority,” he said. “The implementation of the plan, the 45 percent of the revenue (the board) will control - it is not a solely advisory board as defined under the Political Reform Act.”

Calabrese said the disclosure code drafted for La Jolla’s parking board would likely be applied to the other five community parking districts in the city. He said the board of Promote La Jolla may be subject to the code also. Promote La Jolla, the Business Improvement District for the community, appoints three members of the nine-member parking board and controls the board’s finances.

“It’s something we’ll have to address,” Calabrese said. “The Promote La Jolla board may come under the code as well.”

That news comes as Promote La Jolla faces a new lawsuit related to its board elections and the parking issue. Local business owners Nancy Warwick and Bob Collins ran for Promote’s board in its October election on a platform based around their opposition to the proposed pilot parking plan. With eight seats up for election, eight incumbents won the most votes, with Warwick and Collins coming in ninth and tenth, according to the lawsuit.

By the time Promote La Jolla held its November board meeting, board member Greg Rizzi and Izzy Tihanyi had resigned. Rather than move Warwick and Collins onto the board, Promote La Jolla initiated the procedure in its bylaws for gathering new nominations to fill the seats. Warwick and Collins are suing to “gain their rightful place on the PLJ board,” according to the lawsuit.

Promote La Jolla president Deborah Marengo declined to comment, confirming only that two director’s seats were open and that the board was following the procedures outlined in its bylaws to replace them.

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The next meeting of Promote La Jolla’s board of directors is scheduled for Jan. 9 at 3 p.m. at La Valencia Hotel, 1132 Prospect St. The meeting is open to the public.

The next meeting of the La Jolla Community Parking District Advisory Board is scheduled for Jan. 16, with the location and time to be determined. To receive updates and meeting agendas, send an e-mail to parking@lajollabythesea.com.

To read the proposed pilot parking plan in its entirety, visit www.lajollabythesea.com/parking.


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