As promised, the La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) went into effect Oct. 1, with work crews sprucing up landscaping along Girard Avenue.
“We’re going to just be cleaning up, picking up trash, clearing all the dead stuff out,” said work crew member Nestor of the task at hand.
District 1 City Council member and president pro tem Barbara Bry, and 1st District Council candidate and Enhance La Jolla board member Joe LaCava, joined an opening day ceremony for the new MAD.
Bry thanked Phyllis Pfeiffer, La Jolla Light publisher and president of Enhance La Jolla’s 13-member board governing the MAD, for being “relentless.”
“You deserve a lot of credit for where we are today,” Bry said.
Enhance La Jolla chair Ed Witt gave a brief presentation before participants grabbed shovels, work vests and hard hats to ceremonially begin work.
“We’d like to thank the La Jolla Community Foundation, without which this never would have happened,” Witt said about the 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
Witt also thanked the MAD’s new general manager, John Unbewust, whom he described as “the point man for all the work that’s going to be done here in the Village.”
Witt characterized Unbewust as “a great talent, with great experience. He’s a perfect fit.”
Describing the work to be done by La Jolla’s MAD, Witt said, “We’ll be doing trash pickup, graffiti control, power-washing sidewalks, trash receptacles and landscaping. We promise you things are going to change.”
Witt said of Enhance La Jolla, “What we want to do as an organization is to make a difference in the community so we have a better place to live, play and work.”
Witt also thanked Meanley & Son Hardware for “providing us with our tools, white gloves, etc.”
“We’ll be focusing our efforts on Girard right now,” pointed out Witt, adding the new MAD will be performing twice-weekly sidewalk power-washing after hours, along with daily trash pickup in alleys and on streets and sidewalks, as well trash sweeping.
Passed by La Jollans in 2016, the MAD is a legal mechanism by which property owners assess themselves to pay and receive services above and beyond what the city normally provides.
Since its passage, the La Jolla MAD has been barred from being implemented by an ongoing court lawsuit filed by a landlord group known as the La Jolla Benefits Association. LJBA argued the MAD was unlawful because it essentially constitutes a second tax on services the city is already obligated by its charter to provide.
The initial judicial verdict on Nov. 30, 2017 sided with landlords, with San Diego Judge Randa Trapp ruling the MAD was unconstitutional. However, the judicial tables were turned months later when Judge Trapp reversed her previous ruling. The second time around, Trapp determined the benefits association “had no standing in the case.”
Standing is a legal term for the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to, and harm from, the law or action challenged to support that party's participation in the case.
Trapp’s decision on standing in the La Jolla MAD case remains under appeal.