Enhance La Jolla IDs new funding for trip-and-fall mitigation and utility box and flower basket projects

The board of Enhance La Jolla is taking advantage of some new funding to implement projects in coming months.

Among the efforts are:

• Alleviating trip-and-fall hazards after the city of San Diego offered more than $17,000

• Wrapping utility boxes with artistic vinyl covers in concert with the La Jolla Village Merchants Association, with financial assistance from San Diego County

• Replacing the brackets and chains on flower baskets that hang over Village streets, with help from a private donor

The board discussed the projects during its July 21 meeting online.

The nonprofit Enhance La Jolla manages The Village Maintenance Assessment District with authority to enhance city-provided services, including landscape maintenance, street and sidewalk cleaning, litter and graffiti abatement and additional trash collection. It also can privately fund and complete capital improvement projects in public spaces, such as trash can upgrades, bench installation, sign augmentation, park improvements, more public art, and tree canopies on main thoroughfares.

Trip-and-fall mitigation

Enhance La Jolla Chairman Ed Witt said San Diego had over $17,000 available in the budget for the La Jolla MAD to ease trip-and-fall hazards.

“The major came up with these extra funds to help MADs spend that money … so they don’t have to take away funds from other services,” Witt said. “The city had $2 million, and our share was $17,453.”

A recent lawsuit against the city of San Diego stated that in January 2020, area resident Sally Beach was walking on the sidewalk on Pearl Street in La Jolla when she tripped in an empty tree well, fell and hit her face on the sidewalk. The suit has since been settled.

Eleven months after the trip reportedly occurred, Enhance La Jolla began a beautification project along Pearl Street in collaboration with The Village Garden Club of La Jolla to place 21 trees in empty tree wells and dirt patches. The well that was the subject of the lawsuit was among the ones filled with a tree.

Witt said Enhance La Jolla wants to use the city funds to mitigate other potential trip hazards around The Village, which could be done by augmenting tree wells with landscaping materials to reduce height differentials between tree wells and the sidewalk.

“The city seemed to like that idea,” Witt said. “If we were to do a project on the actual sidewalk, it would cost more than $17,000.”

Utility boxes

Enhance La Jolla board member Tony Gild said “productive discussions” had been taking place with organizations such as the Village Merchants Association on to how to beautify SDG&E utility boxes, which Gild called “ugly ducklings that are dotted all over The Village.”

LJVMA recently received $20,000 from the county to help with the association’s wayfinding program, which involves placing signs throughout The Village to direct visitors to beaches and other area landmarks. Gild said some of that money could be used to wrap some of the utility boxes with iconic images of La Jolla and “scenes by local photographers and artists, with a wayfinding component” such as a map or directions to area sights.

The next step is to inventory the boxes by size and location to determine which ones lend themselves to wrapping.

The Enhance La Jolla board voted unanimously to pursue wrapping the boxes in collaboration with LJVMA.

Flower baskets

Witt said a board member anonymously donated $5,000 to buy new brackets and chains for flower baskets that hang over many La Jolla streets.

“This will be a considerable upgrade and much safer because so many of these brackets have broken,” Witt said. “The other thing we want to do is take some of the baskets down and consolidate the plantings on Herschel Avenue, Prospect and Wall streets and some of Girard [Avenue]. It gives us focus; we can better maintain them. Some of the outlying baskets don’t get the care they need and they become an eyesore.”

The board voted unanimously to support the effort. The brackets are expected to be fully installed by the end of August.

Other Enhance La Jolla news

Board seats: Five of the 13 board seats are available this fall: two for commercial property owners, one for a residential property owner, one representing LJVMA and one representing the La Jolla Community Foundation. The property owner seats are voted on by property owners in the Maintenance Assessment District; the seats representing LJVMA and the Community Foundation are appointed by those groups.

“We will put out a call for nominations at the end of August,” Enhance La Jolla board member Kathryn Kanjo said. “At the end of September, we will vet the nominations and produce a list of candidates. The candidates will be posted for two weeks prior to the [October] votes.”

Next meeting: Enhance La Jolla meets quarterly or as needed. The next meeting is scheduled for 4 pm Thursday, Oct. 20, online or at a location to be determined. Learn more at enhancelajolla.org. ️

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