Newly elected to a two-year term was John Shannon who, with 35 votes, bested Sheila Palmer's 30 votes and the 14-vote total of CA Marengo, who is currently president of the La Jolla Village Merchant's Association.
The highlight of the LJCPA meeting, which makes land-use recommendations to the city, was discussion of a proposal, being lobbied for by Marengo, to put language in the community's Planned District Ordinance, its blueprint for development, amending/allowing usage of sandwich board signs in the Public Right-Of-Way.
The La Jolla Planned District Ordinance currently forbids all sandwich boards, except those placed on private property.
“We are the only Business Improvement District out of 19 in the city that doesn't allow sandwich signs in the Public Right-Of-Way,” said Marengo, adding, “We don't want to punish our merchants, but help them out as much as we can.”
Though the sandwich boards in Public Right-Of-Way prohibition has long been on the books in La Jolla, Marengo noted that, largely due to personnel limitations at the city, the prohibition has not been enforced.
“If nobody's enforcing it, (La Jolla Village Merchant's Association is) saying, 'Let's wipe it out, take it out of the Planned District Ordinance and make it uniform with the rest of the BIDs,” Marengo said.
But not everyone at the meeting was as certain as Marengo that it is time to change a time-honored prohibition against public sandwich boards.
“What is the rule you're (Marengo) asking us to approve?,” queried Sheila Palmer from the audience.
“Allowing the issuance of permits for those sandwich boards,” replied Marengo.
Longtime community planner Joe LaCava concurred with Marengo's view noting, “We're trying to promote walkability, sandwich boards are a way for people walking to see which stores are where. We want to make our business district vibrant and stronger. The way you do that is by allowing businesses to advertise less expensively and quicker. This would empower local BIDs to issue permits quickly.”
“Sandwich boards are a liability,” disagreed Realtor Peggy Davis from the audience, noting sandwich boards crowd sidewalks restricting access by disabled people in wheelchairs and others. “Sandwich boards just don't belong.”
“These signs create a very poor image,” noted LJCPA trustee Jim Ragsdale.
Trustee Phil Merten said changing the Planned District Ordinance could have unintended consequences.
“I'm concerned that we're opening the barn door and letting all the sandwich signs out,” Merten quipped.
The LJCPA board vote to amend the Planned District Ordinance to allow sandwich boards in the Public Right-Of-Way passed 7-5-2.