La Jolla MAD ratified, yet in bad timing
Published - 12/01/16 - 05:03 PM | 2563 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Now that La Jolla has voted for a Maintenance Assessment District (MAD), questions remain as to whom will pay for public improvements, when it will start, how will it be administered and what will — or should — it do?

Recently, a little more than half of the approximately 1,300 parcels within the Village voted on the proposed MAD spearheaded by nonprofit, Enhance La Jolla. The vote was fifty-six percent “yes” and forty-four percent “no” for forming the district. Eighty-five percent supported local control with Enhance La Jolla running it, versus the fifteen percent who wanted the city to pilot the new district.

“The Village of La Jolla now joins over sixty other MAD’s in San Diego which lobbied to take greater control of their community environment and experience,” said Mark DiBella, Enhance La Jolla spokesman.

DiBella however noted, due to timing, that “assessment fees cannot be collected until January 2018 and the fees will be solely committed to Village (district) maintenance to include sidewalk cleaning, graffiti, weed abatement and extra trash pick-up.”

Of equal importance, noted DiBella, is that Enhance La Jolla, which will manage the MAD, “will be able to immediately accept private donations for potential capital projects such as new waste receptacles and benches, signage and lighting.”

DiBella added those projects, however, cannot be implemented until the maintenance programs begin in 2018.

“In 2017, Enhance La Jolla looks forwarding to partnering with other La Jolla organizations such as the Town Council, Merchants Association and Parks & Beaches to work on unified goals for beautification and cleanliness for the community,” said DiBella.

A MAD is a legal mechanism by which property owners can vote to assess themselves to receive enhanced maintenance, landscaping, and lighting services. These services are above and beyond the City’s baseline general services. There are currently sixty-one MADs throughout San Diego.

La Jollans weighed in on what they'd like — and not like — to see done with MAD funding.

“MAD will cost its members and the money should be spent on serious general beautification of the central Village — regular power-washing of sidewalks, establishing and maintaining uniform, attractive and numerous sidewalk benches and trash receptacles throughout the zone, and paying for establishment and maintenance of lamp-post containers of flowers or seasonal greens throughout the MAD area,” said civic activist Fran Zimmerman. “For the record, the City should be repairing broken curbs and cleaning the gutters of La Jolla Village (MAD zone) on a regular and frequent schedule, to say nothing about mitigating the stench wafting into town from the Cove.”

Ann Parode Dynes of La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Inc. noted the maintenance district's “potential is terrific,” while pointing out, “They cannot begin maintenance projects until 2017 or later, but have put out a call for capital projects which could be funded through philanthropy. I think this will be a terrific addition to the Village.”

Longtime parks planner and incorporation backer Melinda Merryweather had a different take.

“I personally do not like or understand the concept, seems like another plan to get a few people a paycheck,” said Merryweather. “We should be our own city.” 

Another parks and beaches board member, Sally Miller, said “My wish for the downtown core is to greatly reduce the neon lights/signs and to keep the sidewalks clear of all clutter. Clear sidewalks make it more pedestrian (shopper) friendly, and the neon signs cheapen the uniqueness of the downtown charm.”

Enhance La Jolla has said the new MAD will privately fund and construct projects in public spaces, ensure ongoing maintenance services, help create and maintain inviting public spaces, enhance the Village's beauty and quality of life, leverage property owner assessments to generate supplemental funds from the City and improve property values.
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