Talks continue on La Jolla parks control issue

Reconsidering how four La Jolla groups oversee the community’s neighborhood parks remains on hold pending a city Parks and Recreation Department decision.

Meanwhile, the question of La Jolla Recreation Council’s proper role in managing money for La Jolla Shores park projects has been resolved with creation of a new Shores nonprofit group.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department, along with La Jolla Recreation Council Inc., La Jolla Shores Association, Bird Rock Community Council and La Jolla Town Council, are sorting through park jurisdictional issues. But it’s taking time and no conclusions have yet been reached.

After some concerns were raised at February’s Rec Council meeting about two conflicting documents - a 1998 letter from former Parks and Recreation Director Marcia McClatchy assigning “lead community group” status for the area’s parks versus a 2007 city-approved special permit governing the Rec Council’s jurisdiction - the matter was forwarded to current Parks Director Stacey LoMedico for review.

“We have reviewed it (1998 McClatchy letter) and discussed it with the presidents of the groups involved, but we have made no formal decision yet,” LoMedico said. “We need to ensure that all the groups that currently exist in La Jolla, and have a vested interest, are comfortable as we move forward in determining the jurisdictions for parks within La Jolla. We’re going to work through it. I just don’t have a timeline.”

Chip Rome, president of La Jolla Rec Council, said it’s up to city parks to make the next move.

“Things are taking time to go through the process,” he said. “We are waiting to hear from parks and rec.”

But the picture is now clear about how money for La Jolla Shores park projects will be managed. While the Rec Council and the Town Council have nonprofit status allowing them to handle donations for park projects, the Shores Association did not. That meant when community members decided to create “The Map” - a colorful depiction of the offshore reserve at La Jolla Shores - they needed a nonprofit organization for that purpose.

At the request of Mary Coakley, a longtime Rec Council board member and Shores Association director who spearheaded The Map effort, the Rec Council agreed in 2005 to manage the funds. But with the city’s financial crisis and budget cuts, the Rec Council says it no longer has the time or the resources to manage Shores’ park funds.

Jim Heaton, La Jolla Shores Association chairman, said it was necessary for the advisory group to create a nonprofit to handle community donations, which it has now done.

“The Shores Association, by its charter, does not collect money,” he said. “We can collect money; we can’t raise it.”

Led by Coakley, the Shores Association has created Friends of La Jolla Shores, a 501c3 nonprofit group.

“Friends of La Jolla Shores and the La Jolla Shores Association are very friendly organizations,” added Heaton. “However, they are unique and distinct entities.”