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Shores Association addresses election challenge

La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) held a special meeting ahead of its regular monthly meeting May 13, to answer questions about how its March election was conducted. At issue was using a coin flip to determine who would win the final available seat on the board. The challenge was ultimately denied and election results stand, but it opened the door for LJSA — the board tasked with addressing issues as they relate to the protection and enhancement of the La Jolla Shores area — to examine its bylaws to avoid such an issue in the future.

During the March 11 election, 10 candidates ran for nine seats. After the ballots were counted, it was determined there was a tie for ninth place. At the meeting, then-chair Tim Lucas flipped a coin to determine the winner. In March, Lucas told La Jolla Light via e-mail the LJSA bylaws do not address what to do in the event of a tie, and that the March incident was the first time there has ever been a tie for the last position on the board.

Challenger Todd lesser argues that flipping a coin is not an appropriate way to break a tie.
Challenger Todd lesser argues that flipping a coin is not an appropriate way to break a tie.

Challenger Todd Lesser, former chair of the Traffic & Transportation advisory board, argued that because LJSA bylaws do not address a tie, Robert’s Rules of Order should have been used.

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“If the bylaws do not expressly say you can flip a coin (to break a tie), you can’t flip a coin. There are plenty of organizations that have bylaws that say in the event of a tie, flip a coin. But that’s not in the Shores bylaws,” he said.

Attorney and a former LJSA chair Joe Dicks makes his case for the use of Robert’s Rules of Order.
Attorney and a former LJSA chair Joe Dicks makes his case for the use of Robert’s Rules of Order.

Lesser called upon attorney and former LJSA chair, Joe Dicks, who advised the board that to be in conformance with Robert’s Rules of Order, it should have had a runoff election to break the tie.

“I would suggest the credibility of this board is at stake. The city trusts this board. I’ve always trusted this board,” Dicks said. “The bylaws do not provide for how you settle a tie and by not following Robert’s Rules of Order, which dictate what to do, you deny yourself that credibility.”

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LJSA member Tim Lucas (who was chair at the time of the election) reads his rebuttal.
LJSA member Tim Lucas (who was chair at the time of the election) reads his rebuttal.

In rebuttal, Lucas said the bylaws do state that any election challenge must be filed within five days, at which point ballots are destroyed and the election is considered final.

“On March 19, eight days after the election, Mr. Lesser sent me an e-mail stating his handled with a link to a Robert’s Rules of Order website,” he said. “No challenge was clearly stated in that e-mail.”

Lucas noted he also spoke with Lesser after the March 28 Traffic & Transpiration meeting, but the issue was not brought up. “I assumed the matter was settled,” he said.

The challenge was filed April 14, the day following LJSA’s April monthly meeting, at which the new board was seated. “Timeliness is important so the previous board (with members who have some knowledge of the situation) can address the issue,” Lucas said.

As such, the board voted 9-3-3 to deny the election challenge because of the untimely nature in which it was filed.

The board also voted 12-1-2 to address the issue in the bylaws and specify how a tie shall be broken, should one occur, in the future. The discussion and subsequent bylaw amend- ment will be placed on next month’s agenda.

In other LJSA news

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Little Park plan revived: Taking the reigns from La Jollan Melinda Merryweather, LJSA vice-chair Susan Tschirn and corresponding secretary Angie Preisendorfer will chair the project to restore an area known as Little Park, off Torrey Pines Road at Little Street. Merryweather — whose recent efforts led to the removal of shrubbery on Torrey Pines Road that opened up the view there — held onto project plans since they were originally drawn up in 2003, but handed them off to Tschirn and Preisendorfer for implementation.

LJSA members Susan Tschirn and Angie Preisendorfer display plans for the restoration of Little Park.
LJSA members Susan Tschirn and Angie Preisendorfer display plans for the restoration of Little Park.

“We have an appointment with Council President Sherri Lightner June 2 to discuss our options for opening up this park,” Preisendorfer said. The original plans, she added, were very elaborate and include plantings and a watering and lighting system.

“With the city having minimal maintenance budget and our state being in a drought, we want to pull back from that and make the landscaping drought tolerant and use rocks and decomposed granite to make it clear it’s a park area,” Preisendorfer said. After the meeting with Lightner’s office, the twosome will have a better idea of costs and whether they will seek private funding.

A welcomed break: As the long- awaited summer construction moratorium approaches — pausing disruptive construction along Avenida de la Playa to repair sewer and water lines — senior engineer Steve Lindsay gave LJSA one last update before the break, which begins Memorial Day (May 25).

“We still think we can get everything done (on Avenida de la Playa) by the Memorial Day moratorium, but we are having problems with the other parts of the Shores,” he said. “We are going to have to have the contractor re-dig up some of the sewer that was laid on El Paseo Grande, north of Calle Frescota, and also on Calle de la Plata,” when construction resumes after Labor Day in September. Unforeseen complications with the size of the sewer lines led the contractor to determine they would need to be re-laid, but the current pipes will hold through the summer.

Construction has been underway since December, 2013, but work during recent months has been on the blocks in front of businesses. For the summer, the street will be re-paved with temporary asphalt and be completely driveable.

City crews have already replaced the crosswalk at Calle de la Plata and added safety measures to make it more visible for the predicted 2-3 million visitors to the Shores this summer. A concrete “bump-out” was installed to extend the curb and further clarify the area as a crosswalk. The line for cars to stop at the stop sign painted on the street is also farther from the crosswalk than previously, so there’s greater distance between pedestrians and vehicles.

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Next meeting: LJSA will convene 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 10 at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Building T-29, 8840 Biological Grade. ljsa.org@gmail.com