La Jollans have a lot to look forward to — and much to be concerned about — as we’ve turned the corner on a new year.
There is certainly no shortage of hot-button issues to be dealt with, everything from regulating short-term vacation rentals (STVRs) to regulating electric scooters.
By year’s end there will be a new mayor, and a couple of new council members, including District 1, where City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry is vacating her seat to make a mayoral bid.
La Jolla Village News asked civic leaders in the Jewel to gaze ahead in 2020 and give us their take and what can and should be done to improve the quality of life for all San Diegans.
“I see a continuation of the improvements in the Maintenance Assessment District,” said Ed Witt, board president for the La Jolla MAD, which became active in October 2019. “We have a lot of work to do as a board with adding new members and establishing committees, plus all the continued ‘enhancing La Jolla.’ We'll continue to listen to the community and to refine our processes with our vendors to improve efficiencies and the final product [keeping LJ clean].”
Added Witt, “As the year unfolds, we'll learn from our successes and where we need to improve. We thank the citizens in the district for the trust they've put in us and we look forward to a full year of Enhancing La Jolla.”
Ann Dynes, president of La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Inc., also had community beautification high on her advisory group’s to-do list for 2020.
“The role of the MAD will be a significant development for residents of the Village and patrons of the business district of La Jolla, nothing prescient about that,” said Dynes. “In the new decade, La Jollans will need to be proactive in dealing with populist pressures such as sidewalk vendors, personal mobility devices, increased density, higher buildings, overtourism, STVRs and overhead noise, if we want to maintain any semblance of the ‘coastal village’ which most of us appreciate.”
Dynes pointed out such populist pressures “are antithetical to our current way of living, and we need to pay attention to them if we want to at least try to manage their impact.”
Dynes added it is also important for La Jollans in the new year to “vote for political representatives who have a proven record of advocating for La Jolla residents, which would be a good start in 2020.”
District 1 City Council member Barbara Bry sees maintaining local control of planning, and reigning in scooters, as two challenges lying ahead in 2020.
“I will continue to oppose the corporatization of our neighborhoods, which is evident with both the scooter and short-term vacation rental industry as well as proposed state legislation that would take away local control of land-use planning,” said Bry. “State legislation already took away our ability to require adult scooter riders to wear helmets, and tragically we are seeing an increase in traumatic head injuries, and the city is being named in lawsuits. In contrast, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed scooter legislation because it did not require riders to wear helmets.”
Janie Emerson, chair of La Jolla Shores Association, believes the city needs to be more neighborhood-focused in community planning.
“My biggest concern is that the city is going Big Brother on us,” Emerson said. “They just want to have one policy because that makes it easy. What’s happening is that the neighborhoods are being destroyed by this one-size-fits-all attitude. The beauty of the city is that we are so diverse and our neighborhoods have such wonderful texture, culture and depth.”
Emerson believes that “runaway density” and economic sustainability are two other issues the city move forward on in 2020.
“We don’t have the infrastructure to support more density,” she said. “We also need to become as ‘green’ as possible.”
Coastal landscape architect Jim Neri gave his wish list for 2020.
“I’d like to see the bike path right-of-way [between La Jolla High and Bird Rock] dedicated linear parkland,” said Neri. “This is important public open space that connects our community and it needs to be protected. It’s time to give identity to those public coastal access easements that run between residences to the shore, using simple signs customized to each neighborhood. Recognition of these unique access ways by name will improve neighborhood identity and deter encroachment.”