In Act II, scene ii, Juliet utters that famous line: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” She is chiding Romeo to believe that names of things do not matter, only what they are. Juliet asserts that the name of Romeo’s house, Montague, really means nothing, and that the same goes for her name, Capulet. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet.” Romeo responds, “Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized/ Henceforth I never will be Romeo.”
Applying that view of life to something like a town or a neighborhood, one wonders what it would mean to call a community by another name. By any other name, would it smell as sweet? In University City, many locals sense disrespect for the baptized University City, named in the early 1960s by the developers.
Community identity theft has been rampant with La Jolla, our sister community to the west, feeling free to change the University City moniker. Would Shakespeare say, “Get over it”? Does it matter what your community is called? If real estate values go up because the name La Jolla has been stamp-ed on various areas and developments, isn’t that enough?
No, that isn’t enough for locals who take pride in their community. Gertrude Stein wrote a poem in 1913 called “Sacred Emily.” You may be familiar with her famous line: “a rose is a rose is a rose.” Unlike Shakespeare, Stein believes things are what they are — it’s a law of identity. Using the name University City evokes emotions. The community has an identity separate from La Jolla. West of Interstate 5 is La Jolla; east of Interstate 5 is University City.
Gertrude Stein might support the idea that community identity theft is as bad as human identity theft for those intangible reasons, like hometown pride and fairness.
In South University City, not much building is going on in this bedroom development. It houses a tight-knit group of locals who meet at Standley Park or the coffee shop on Governor and who consider this area of U.C. the best kept secret in San Diego. You might see a remodel or a tear down with a replacement, but the only new building is a senior-living complex on Governor Drive. Guess what the rental apartment complex named this development? La Jolla Del Rey.
What’s in a name? To many, many University City residents, it is a slap in the face from an outsider trying to make money by being insensitive to the locals. (By the way, U.C. Village is right next to the new development. At one time a donut shop at Regents and Governor decided to change its name to La Jolla Donuts; after a week the University City name reappeared.)
Two weeks ago, there was a snapshot of an article in the U-T San Diego that detailed a story about a transient taken into custody after a couple of fires broke out at the “Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine in University City.” One of the fires on the side of the hotel was University Center Lane and one was on La Jolla Village Drive. My unscientific study of events that happen in North University City reveals some startling evidence. If an event like a fire, robbery or rape occur, the area is described as University City. If an event like the opening of a new restaurant — or UTC’s remodeling, for example — occurs, the area is pinpointed as La Jolla.
Am I hearing a chorus of boos maybe organized by someone like Shakespeare? “Get over it.”
— Sandy Lippe is a 36-year resident of University City and the former president of the UC Community Association.