Joe Parker stepped down after three years at the helm in November, yielding to Jacqueline Bell, a three-year council member who takes over Feb. 5.
“I don’t think we have anything really that’s broken in the community,” said Bell. “We kind of have perennial issues — traffic, people not stopping at stop signs, driving too fast through the neighborhood, etc. — that most communities deal with.”
Bell will continue with traffic-calming efforts.
“I think we’ve been successful on the boulevard with slowing things down so you’re not taking your life in your hands when you’re crossing the street,” she said, adding some of that traffic has shifted to side streets, which will now have to be dealt with.
Though she didn’t realize it early on, Bell was being groomed for leadership.
“I came here about 6 ½ years ago and started going to community meetings to find out what was going on,” she said. “I was asked to be on the board and, at first, I said, ‘No, no, no I don’t have time.’ Then I finally said, ‘Ok, I’ll do it.’ Gradually I got more responsibility and then Joe said, ‘I think you’d be a great president.’ I said, ‘Oh, really?’ That’s kind of how I got roped into it — gradual creep.”
Parker will remain on the BRCC board and help with Bell’s transition. The advisory group’s voice is resonating throughout the broader La Jolla community, he said.
“What’s interesting to me is how many tentacles the BRCC really has when it comes to interfacing, not only with the local community, but government agencies,” Parker said. “There are so many (city) departments you end up interfacing with to help Bird Rock work correctly. There are some really good folks down at the city of San Diego who really care deeply about what happens in Bird Rock, and want to help and support us.”
A financial investment adviser and an East Coast transplant, Bell chose Bird Rock to relocate to because of its community closeness.
“I moved here from a small town in New England and I was looking to find a place that would replicate that feeling of neighborhood and community,” she said. “I came out here and looked at a couple of other places, but I didn’t get that. I got it here. That was what was very attractive to me — an older, more established neighborhood with a sense of community that was organic.”
That Bird Rock is self-contained with lots to offer was reinforced recently for Bell when she had some time off.
“I didn’t leave the neighborhood,” she said. “I went as far as my bike could take me. I could do everything I wanted without getting into a car.”
BRCC’s president is the group’s point person, serving as a sounding board for the community while running interference with government officials.
“The major responsibility of the BRCC is running the MAD (maintenance assessment district, which maintains the roundabouts and public landscaping),” said Bell. “It’s a repository for neighborhood complaints, being the chief advocate and cheerleader for Bird Rock within La Jolla, as well as greater San Diego — all of those things.”
During his administration, Parker said the BRCC continued to mature, becoming a real force for positive growth and development.
“The last three years have been very busy for the board,” he said. “One of the bigger successes we had in the neighborhood was dealing with Rancho Relaxo (a residence cited for code violations), bringing that to a successful conclusion.”
Parker cited the “evolution on the boulevard with the MAD and the BRCC’s Beautification Committee” as another big win-win for the community.
Reviving Taste of Bird Rock and returning it to its roots as a community-oriented fundraiser, meanwhile, was also an important development.
“It showed us we could bring an event back to the boulevard that would be supportive of the merchants while generating money for charities,” he said.
Parker had this advice to offer Bell about the BRCC presidency.
“Keep an open mind,” he said. “Take people’s comments as they come to you. Sift through them. Get to know as many people as you can, because there are many players here in La Jolla, as well as in local government that can make a difference.”
BRCC’s next meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 5 at a location yet to be determined.