La Jolla traffic board denies street closures for new holiday parade

La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation (T&T) advisory board dealt a blow to the San Diego County Diversity & Inclusiveness Group (SDCDIG) plans for a second La Jolla parade in December, by denying their requested street closures at the Aug. 27 T&T meeting.

The proposed parade — aka La Jolla Community and Holiday Parade — is designed to be a faith-neutral alternative to the 58th annual La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival, which is a completely separate event. The new parade is proposed for Sunday, Dec. 13, one week after the La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival, 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6.

T&T board member Tom Brady explained, “the city is the responsible party for making decisions on special events, but they do look to community groups heavily to support or deny or make recommendations on these events,” after which the board voted 9-0-0 to recommend the city deny the application for street closures Dec. 13 along Girard Avenue around Wall Street.

The chief concern about the SDCDIG parade expressed during the last few monthly T&T meetings, was the outreach (or what some said was a lack thereof) to affected businesses along the proposed parade route, and missing information about parade participants.

Leading up to the T&T vote, the board asked SDCDIG to circulate a petition to these businesses to gauge their response to a second parade. Some business owners reported they found the petition confusing and a few admitted they thought they were signing off on a name/date change for the annual La Jolla Christmas parade — and alleged intimidation tactics were used to gather approval signatures.

When SDCDIG submitted the petition results in July, there were 45 in favor and 15 opposed. To verify the petition results, Warwick’s books owner Nancy Warwick said she walked the Village to speak to business owners.

“We needed to verify because, as a board, we needed to follow up on (the confusion that was brought to our attention). I didn’t have time to go to everyone, but I tried to visit most of the businesses on Girard Avenue,” she said. “Some of them were confused and decided to change their votes. Others understood the street closure and that’s what they wanted, and I wasn’t interested in changing their vote.”

Between those who decided to sign after speaking with Warwick, and the additional petitions that came in after the July meeting, Warwick’s numbers reflected 32 were in favor and 52 were opposed.

One of those who had not signed the petition during its circulation, because it was “left under the door” and subsequently lost, was the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library.

Athenaeum executive director Erika Torri was in attendance to explain to the T&T board that she opposed the parade because it would conflict with the Athenaeum’s annual holiday gala on Dec. 13.

“The Athenaeum is the oldest institution in La Jolla and one of the oldest in San Diego, having been established in 1899, and I have been a part of it for 27 years. For those 27 years, we have had our holiday on the second Sunday of December,” she said. “There are 2,000 members that come for different parts of the day ... it’s a big event for our members and for the community, as members are allowed to bring guests. but they are not going to be able to come (and park) if there is a parade that day.”

Warwick made a detailed, extensive motion that precisely explained why the board opposed the street closures for the second parade. “Even if we decide to vote ‘no’ on this, the city might decide to disregard that and proceed. This is our chance to tell the city what our thought process is (in opposing the event).”

Within the motion, T&T’s reasons for opposition included: the applicant has not demonstrated support from the affected businesses and organizations in the retail- dense area for that high-volume time of year; the chosen date conflicts with an existing event at the Athenaeum (existing protocol recommends that for new events, organizers pick a date that does not conflict with longstanding events); no information has been provided considering the number or nature of participants and spectators, nor is there information on the website as to how to sign up; there has been no professional event planning, leading to concerns about adequate health and safety professionals available at the parade; and some t&t members consider the application an abuse of the City of San Diego’s special event procedures.

The item now goes before the La Jolla Community planning Association’s 5 p.m. Sept. 3 meeting at La Jolla Rec Center.

Of the T&T decision, SDCDIG member Howard Singer later told La Jolla Light, “Their decision didn’t matter, we’re happy to take a yes or a no vote.” He added that he is confident the city will grant SDCDIG a permit for its parade, regardless of local board recommendations.

In other T&T news:

Board changes meeting date: T&T decided to move its regular meeting date to the third Wednesdays at 4 p.m. to better accommodate members’ schedules. the next meeting will be Wednesday, Sept. 16 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

Parking committee meets: With the purpose of exploring the various parking time limits in the Village, a T&T sub-committee met to establish its goals. It was formed following a presentation by La Jolla Coastal Access & parking board chair Deborah marengo that illustrated the confusing nature of the different time zones.

Chair Patrick Ryan explained, “We aim to strike a balance in (parking) time limits so visitors have enough time to experience the Village, but a short enough time to allow maximum access.”

He said their key goal is to review staying time in the Village and optimize parking times to suit visitors and businesses. While some businesses, chiefly restaurants, would like longer on-street parking times, other businesses would benefit from shorter stays. Before proceeding, he said the committee needed data from businesses, residents, municipalities, churches and schools as to what their ideal parking situation would be.

Prestwick speed limit stays 30 mph: As part of the city’s rotation of speed studies on San Diego streets, prestwick Drive in La Jolla Shores was recently reviewed — and the city recommended the speed limit be raised from 30 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour.

“Prestwick Drive’s study showed that in order to continue with radar enforcement, the speed limit would have to be raised to 35 miles per hour,” T&T chair Dave Abrams told the group.

T&T member ryan added, “The questions for residents becomes: Would you like to keep it at 30 miles per hour and lose radar enforcement, or raise it to 35 so those going faster than 35 can be radar enforced?”

According to the study, 85 percent of cars are going faster than 30 miles per hour.

With Prestwick residents reporting cars already speed down their street, many voiced support for keeping the speed limit at 30 miles per hour, even at the loss of radar enforcement. Although the board voted in agreement, ryan suggested the residents circulate a petition and present their results at the next meeting. A motion to oppose the speed limit increase, pending the residents’ signatures in support (while acknowledging that with the 30 mph speed limit they lose radar enforcement), passed unanimously.