Our friends to the west, La Jolla, are considering separating themselves from the city of San Diego the way Del Mar once did. Independent La Jolla would like you to check out its Web site: www.independentlajolla.com. According to an article in a La Jolla weekly, the 28-member group feels confident that La Jolla would do better than survive a divorce from San Diego. In a feasibility study, a city of La Jolla could take in more than $39 million in 2007-2008 with expenditures of $34 million. Right now, engineer E.F. Cook is designing a map of a proposed city of La Jolla and guess what? Sleepy little University City better wake up and realize that part of it could be incorporated.
"We can't figure where to stop," Cook said. "If you go east of the 5, how much of the east side do you take in? We have a problem of where to draw the lines. We might have to take all the country up there or none of it."
Arrogance on the part of Cook and his employers, Independent La Jolla, comes to mind. Where is a proactive University City keeping community identity from continuing to be stealthily stolen by La Jolla? Just last Friday, Nov. 3, in the Union-Tribune under Crime Watch heading was an article about two masked men armed with handguns who robbed Cozymel's Restaurant in University City. However, Cozymel is in La Jolla, according to its ads. Bristol Farms La Jolla opened in Costa Verde, although the ZIP is still 92122. Do you get the picture? Our police and fire stations in Eastgate Mall are in the 92037 ZIP code. La Jolla gets praise for being the site of these places unless there is a robbery, rape or murder; then the site is University City.
What is University City? Would you describe it as forward thinking? Proactive? We don't have a mayor to point out our can-do spirit the way Del Mar does. We feel fragmented and more reactive to situations, in my mind. Del Mar incorporated in 1959 and had more local control. La Jolla is hoping to secede from San Diego. University City began as a community serving the University of California, with hopes of having housing for everyone from the janitor to the president. Instead we got the flashy North U.C. and the weedy South U.C., overlooked when it comes to free-flow funding from developers' FBA funds.
How empowered Del Mar must be! It defeated the plan for Interstate 5 to go through its downtown. Del Mar worked with San Diego and purchased Crest Canyon for open space instead of having condominiums and annexed Seagrove and Powerhouse Parks for community open space. Del Mar restored San Dieguito Lagoon. In 2002, the Del Mar City Council developed a long-range plan called Vision 2020 with goals and high-priority projects that focus groups of residents chose.
As a South University City resident for 34 years, I have seen lots of changes from the original plan aligned with UCSD. U.C. residents have been reactive instead of proactive. Why haven't U.C. folks come together to make a long-range plan? Maybe the reason is that early on, the University City Planning Group was stacked with developers with no vested interest in where U.C. was growing and going. "If you build it, they will come" became the hue and cry. Locals would rally and come out to oppose overbuilding in the northern area of the Golden Triangle and then retreat for years. Today's University Community Planning Group leadership is taking a good look backward and forward, hoping to choke off the building in North U.C., hoping to have a plan.
Friends of Rose Canyon and U.C. Connection are run by intelligent, determined residents who also came out to react to a proposed bridge over the canyon. Two major issues, Regents Road Bridge and relocation of the airport to Miramar, have produced visceral reactions among the folks who call U.C. home. Once again, unlike Del Mar, University City doesn't have a long-range Vision 2020 but more of a knee-jerk reaction to issues like the airport and the bridge.
South University City, our sleepy little hamlet, has been the overlooked stepchild by city government when it comes to funding projects. People get used to looking at weeded areas like Governor and 805 and unattractive medians. Beautification has brought some residents out to try to fix up our aging community, but without money, it is hard to do the job. Dr. Hugh Pates, president of UCCA, has enlisted concerned citizens who have on occasion cleaned up the medians and swept up the walkways. The city has sent out some workers to cut back encroaching ice plant on sidewalks and sweep the streets, but it is often after harassing phone calls, another reactionary response.
Joining forces to set a long-range plan into action is the answer to the future of University City. Inertia, inactivity and reaction aren't the answers. Young families and longtime residents need to make a realistic wish list, need to come together to share ideas and make the City Fathers and Mothers realize that University City is not La Jolla East up for sale or Del Mar, a separate city. Success stories do exist.
EdUCate!, which is holding its Taste of the Triangle on Nov. 14 at the La Jolla Marriott, truly located in U.C., is a wonderful example. University City Community Association, University City Planning Group, U.C. Connection, Friends of Rose Canyon and other community groups should start now and have a true vision of what they want University City to look like in 2020 or 2025.
If you have a realistic wish list, please share it with this columnist. Listening to the train wind through the canyon reminds me of a quote that could be applied to University City as we regret our lack of vision: "If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction." Let's get on the right train starting now.