Seeking feedback on business groups

When city officials and leaders of Promote La Jolla came up with the idea of an interim La Jolla Business Improvement District to fill the gap left after the city’s audit put PLJ in a holding pattern, we wondered how it would work.

Now we know — not very well, if the recent meeting of the two groups is any indication. We were concerned about bureaucracy getting the better of what might have been the seeds of a good idea. It seems those concerns were justified.

Even the advisers to the city — the four Promote La Jolla officers — are frustrated at the details that are holding up action. To get rent paid, they have to funnel checks through the La Jolla Town Council Foundation; to pay their sole staff member to keep records straight and handle minor business matters, they have to utilize a temporary agency.

Yes, the city is protecting itself because there were faults in the old system, but is a city-controlled business improvement district the answer? Is there an easier way to accomplish projects that make the Village a better place for business?

What’s being done now is getting done by the sheer will of volunteers who are showing up for weekend street cleanups and merchants who are sweeping the streets and gutters or watering the baskets and planters outside their shops and offices. (To those who are pitching in, we say thanks.)

There’s got to be a better solution, but we don’t think a proposal to bring the business improvement district under the auspices of the La Jolla Town Council is the right one.

The Town Council’s mission “is to work proactively as a unifying voice on behalf of the entire La Jolla Community” — both businesses and residents.

Would that structure serve La Jolla’s two distinct types of businesses: those that serve the tourists and those that serve the residents?

Perhaps we should look to the greater San Diego region, which has two groups: the Convention and Visitors Bureau and a regional chamber of commerce. While they both aim to build business and protect the interests of their members, their messages, audience and membership are different.

Going forward, we want to hear the ideas of those who are paying fees to improve the business climate and appearance of the Village district. Would you rather pay dues to an organization that can control its own destiny?

Do you even think La Jolla needs a business improvement district? Send ideas to