PLJ: Pay heed to bottom line

By David Ish

Guest Columnist

Having been involved in the formation of the La Jolla Business Improvement District, it is interesting to see that the organization appears to be coming “full circle” and returning to its primary focus of promotion. (New year, new direction for Promote La Jolla? La Jolla Light, Jan. 8, 2009)

Explore issues

This is not to say that it hasn’t been promoting the commercial area, but with controversies over paid parking, etc., its mission has been clouded.

The law allows for BID’s to be involved in issues such as parking, however with PLJ’s limited resources it should focus on promotion. I do not fault PLJ for “floating” the idea of paid parking. However they should have communicated more clearly with their members and the community at large, taking an “exploratory” posture rather than that of a strong advocate.

PLJ should be commended for increasing the value of its members’ assessment by generating other sources of revenue. Their current budget adds over 40 percent value to the assessments. The assessments are the same as they were when the BID was formed in 1991.

Some members have contributed significant dollars to PLJ for specific programs. This is commendable. If they continue to do so, contributions and expenditures should be broken out and augment the overall mission of PLJ. Neither BID assessment funds nor general fundraising should unduly benefit one particular business segment over another.

Stay at home

PLJ funds are minor compared to the combined advertising budgets of a regional center like UTC and their larger tenants. Therefore it is essential that PLJ assess where best to draw customers from. Perhaps the current economy means attracting them closer to home. “E-blasts” are a cost-effective way to reach customers, particularly locals. Special events that generate revenue for the organization and bring the community and visitors together can also help.

It is essential that PLJ use its limited funds wisely and never lose sight of its members’ “bottom line.”

David Ish is a management consultant for nonprofit organizations and lives in La Jolla.