La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Inc. (LJPB) in December once again vetted concerns about commercialization of public parks, before postponing a vote on placing a moratorium on new special-use permits at Scripps Park until January.
Groups proposing to host events at Scripps Park are required to seek LJPB approval and obtain a city special-use permit to use all or a portion of the park. LJPB has been reluctant to approve private, for-profit use of Scripps Park, and any use that takes up the entire park excluding the public.
LJPB also reached group consensus Dec. 9, agreeing their city advisory group is too small to coordinate and administer large-scale signature events. LJPB this year successfully sponsored the return of a September community swim and was contemplating hosting the return of a downsized Scripps summer concert series next year.
Board members Mary Ellen Morgan and Debbie Beacham are advocating placing a temporary hold on greenlighting any new community events in Scripps Park until the city sorts out its policies and guidelines for public parks.
“The city is redoing their master plan for parks programs and criteria,” said Morgan. “We don’t know what the city’s new parks criteria is going to be. So we’re suggesting allowing ongoing events to continue, but suggesting that we do not entertain any new events until we’ve reviewed the city’s new park guidelines.”
“Once we approve an event in the park, they feel entitled to be in the park,” noted Morgan, adding events held previously in Scripps would continue under a moratorium. She pointed out it would be inappropriate to approve new events in the park, only to have to rescind such approval later.
The city’s parks master plan update is a three-year comprehensive planning and outreach project to develop a vision and strategies to meet the future recreation needs of city residents.
The park subcommittee’s moratorium suggestion was debated by board and audience members alike.
“We’ve always approved concerts and public events like the swim meet, and concerts in the park, historical events,” noted LJPB board member Sally Miller. “What we’re trying to do is avoid having any new events, especially commercial events, starting up which opens the door [to more commercialization].”
“If you put a moratorium on bringing events to La Jolla, what you’re really doing is shutting the door to a lot of community creativity and relationship building,” warned Jodi Rudick, executive director of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association. “That’s very dangerous.”
“It’s been the opinion of this group for many years that the [Scripps] park is for the public,” said longtime La Jolla parks planner Melinda Merryweather. “We’re just trying to save the park for the public. What if you pulled up to the Grand Canyon and they said, ‘I’m sorry, but you can’t come in because there’s an event today showing some cars.’”
“It’s in our bylaws,” noted board member Debbie Beacham about preserving public use of Scripps Park.
“I would be glad to table this motion until January,” concluded Morgan, whose motion was endorsed by the parks board.
LJPB president Ann Dynes noted that board member Judy Halter, who kick-started the community swim this year and is reviving the Scripps summer concert series in 2020, is leaving the board.
“I couldn’t talk her out of it,” said Dynes, noting LJPB is transferring funds for programming next year’s La Jolla Cove swim to another community organization.
“In my judgement, we [LJPB] are not equipped to have the kind of active programs that Judy [Halter] is planning,” Dynes said.