Cove-to-Village shuttle, ‘pool party hop’ are among ideas for La Jolla merchants’ strategic plan

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To continue its 3-year-old effort to draw visitors at La Jolla Cove into The Village to shop or dine, the La Jolla Village Merchants Association may look into a shuttle that would take people from The Cove to the businesses or a QR code posted at The Cove listing specials being offered at Village businesses.

Those and many other ideas were floated at the association’s annual strategic planning session Dec. 13 to outline its priorities for the coming year and a plan to execute them.

Participants broke into four small groups to discuss core themes for the organization, brainstorm ideas and share their top suggestions with the whole group.

In the scope of organizational excellence, recommendations included having space on LJVMA’s monthly meeting agendas for other local planning groups to give reports to help “target the efforts” of the broader community, along with starting an “associate member” program for those who don’t have businesses in LJVMA’s jurisdiction but want to be involved. Other ideas included branded merchandise that could be sold.

The ideas for the shuttle and QR code came under general marketing, and for events and marketing, proposals included a “pool party hop” at area hotels and adding offerings to the monthly First Friday Art Walk that would cater to interests besides art and wine.

Other suggestions included adding a networking event to the rotation of business breakfasts and merchant happy hours to enable businesses with a need to connect with fellow business owners who can meet that need.

Volunteers in various groups write down ideas to be possibly integrated into the LJVMA strategic plan for 2024.

Volunteers in various groups write down ideas to be possibly integrated into the La Jolla Village Merchants Association strategic plan for 2024.

(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

For merchant engagement, initiatives included a canvassing effort to welcome new businesses and inform them about LJVMA and reviving a plan to create a “welcome packet” for new merchants with a list of resources. Another idea was to create an incentive system for those who attend association meetings.

LJVMA Executive Director Jodi Rudick will study the ideas for feasibility and possibly write them into the strategic plan for 2024. A draft of the strategic plan will be given to the board at its next meeting in January.

“This group has done such a good job of being able to prioritize and stay true to those priorities,” Rudick said. “My job is to make sure that we get a budget passed and stay with it and use our strategic plan as a blueprint. … That’s why this job has been so enjoyable for me. I’ve had that blueprint to work with [and] that connection and committee involvement … and watching everyone come together and get involvement from people who have been in The Village and then stepping up to do things that they have experience with.”

Other LJVMA news

New board members: To fill two vacancies created by midterm resignations, the board had a brief candidates forum to meet potential board members. Four local business representatives ran for the spots, and two from the hotel industry got them: Inn by the Sea General Manager Scott Blaul and Orli La Jolla hotel General Manager Jordan Gafa.

Midterm vacancies are filled by a vote of the board rather than the general membership, which votes in the annual election.

Rudick had expressed an interest in having the hospitality industry represented and said she was in talks with different hotels.

Blaul said he wants a board seat because “I love La Jolla. Every morning when I drive to work I have to pinch myself. … It has everything to offer everyone that comes here.”

He said Inn by the Sea hosts charity events and school supply drives and looks to draw visitors from downtown San Diego and North County to La Jolla. “I think we can make others fall in love with the community as well,” he said.

Gafa said he is a native San Diegan and that his wife grew up in La Jolla.

“[Orli is] a small boutique hotel that is independently run, so we lean on other merchants and businesses in The Village,” he said. “We … have met many of the merchants, so I’m grateful for the chance to give back.”

Streetlights: Emily Piatanesi, representing the office of San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, said the office has asked the city Transportation Department to evaluate the streetlights in The Village this month.

The LJVMA board has long requested that the streetlights be repaired to illuminate darkened streets.

“Streetlights are different everywhere — some are 100-plus years old, others are on a series circuit so when one light goes out, they all go out,” Piatanesi said. “Some are newer and just need a bulb replacement. It’s hard to diagnose what type of fix is helpful.”

In addition, the office added $2.3 million to the fiscal 2023-24 budget to pay for streetlight repairs, she said.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Village Merchants Association next meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, at the La Jolla/Riford Library, 7555 Draper Ave. Learn more at lajollabythesea.com. ◆


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