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PLJ woes cutting into beautification

Promote La Jolla’s financial situation is starting to affect the group’s ability to maintain its community beautification efforts so new calls are going out for community support.

At last week’s meeting of the Streetscape/Design Committee, which is a joint effort with the La Jolla Town Council, members talked about finding a way to pay for the flower baskets that hang throughout the area and for cleaning up trash on the streets.

They also said they plan to press forward with cleaning up and removing unsightly and illegal news racks around the Village.

Chairman Glen Rasmussen explained that PLJ is trying to gain recertification from the city as a business improvement district. The group was the subject of a city audit over its financial recordkeeping that is not completely resolved.

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Even so, he said, PLJ would “like to maintain our agreement with the Urban Corps to sweep our streets and gutters and empty trash cans on Thursdays and Saturdays.” The volunteer, inner-city youth group is paid $885 monthly for its services. “We’d like people to sponsor a month of Urban Corps services,” Rasmussen said.

“It will just take a while to change the paradigm of how people think,” said committee member Sharon Wampler about the need for citizens to contribute during this recession to fund public services that the city can no longer afford.

PLJ’s predicament also leaves it without the $2,075 a month to replace and water hanging baskets that brighten Village streets.

Rasmussen said he would like to see residents step forward to “sponsor a month” and donate the $2,075. He noted that fundraising is most effective when a cause is specified.

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Committee member Dave Ish suggested any donations received for beautification be kept in the hands of nonprofit foundations like the one run by La Jolla Town Council.

Committee member Michele Addington agreed.

“Everything needs to be transparent and an accounting done and published,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Streetscape/Design Committee is pressing ahead with plans to eradicate unsightly and illegal news racks throughout the community.

Jim Reed of the streetscape committee’s news racks subcommittee estimated 30 percent of the news racks throughout the Village are illegal.

“We’d like to remove those that are unlicensed and unpermitted,” he said, adding there are existing racks representing companies which have gone out of business, like the Learning Annex.

Addington, also a subcommittee member, said removing illegal racks is a complicated and time-consuming process involving the city’s issuing rack owners notification that they are in violation of their permit conditions.

“Once the city gets involved they can fine them (rack owners) double, triple,” she said. “But it’s a forever process.”

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“We need to identify what companies can be removed that are not in compliance,” said Rasmussen.