San Diego Police Department representatives addressed the recent increase in vandalism to businesses along La Jolla Boulevard while residents expressed concern about inadequate lighting and the safety issues it presents during the first meeting of the Bird Rock Community Council on February 1.
In recent months, several Bird Rock companies have been sabotaged by seemingly random window crashes. In some cases, the BB gun was used to destroy windows.
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9:49 AM Feb 3 2022This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Jesse Kamen’s last name.
Optician Jesse Kamen said Be Seen Optics was hit three times — twice in August and once in January.
“One night two of our windows were hit by what looked like a BB gun,” Kamen said in August. “You can see little holes where the breaking points were. The next night a third window was hit.”
She said two other businesses along La Jolla Street were vandalized during the same period, and even more so since then.
“I saw some surveillance footage,” she said in one of the most recent cases. “[The vandals] It didn’t look like they were trying to get in, it seemed like they were just looking to cause damage. I saw these guys standing there for a few minutes after they broke the window, admiring their handiwork.”
Kamen said there wasn’t enough light to pick up their car’s license plate number.
Ariel del Toro, SDPD’s Community Relations Officer, confirmed that there were more than usual. “A lot of times, these are unfortunately crimes of opportunity,” she said. “We encourage people to move their goods out of sight. … Installing alarms [triggered by] Breaking the glass has been really helpful because it tells the alarm company, which informs us.”
It also recommended the installation of cameras overlooking the front of the company.
The growing concern about crime at Bird Rock comes on the heels of several corporate burglaries in the village of La Jolla and a series of burglaries at La Jolla homes, many believed to be linked to a crime gang.
Kamen told La Jolla Light After the BRCC meeting, she said she would advocate “anything that would deter this kind of vandalism,” including bringing more light and more business to La Jolla Boulevard, making it more famous “so that these individuals do not feel free to sail and do what they want to do.”
“I would also like parents to talk to their children about whether they know anyone who might,” she added. “We’re tired of having to go through that cost of replacing glass and stickers over and over. We’ve started securing merchandise in the back, which has resulted in more work for employees. We don’t want to do that. People should be able to pass by and see our products.”
Bird Rock Merchants Group President Craig Bender agreed that there was insufficient lighting on La Jolla Boulevard and said merchants were feeling unsafe. “Many of our businesses are owned by women and many of them do not feel comfortable walking to and from their businesses in the early morning and in the evening,” he said.
Classes are held at 6 a.m. and are mostly women, said Amanda Walker, owner of Studio Barre in Bird Rock. “A few months ago, when it was very dark in the morning, one of my teachers knew and… a guy came in and I had to take him out. It was scary. You don’t feel safe. We always have to talk about how we would leave if we had to leave ourselves. The lighting would be amazing.”
Bender said, “We ask merchants to keep porch lights on to help light up the avenue, but that’s not enough. Everyone wants more lighting. We keep talking about it and nothing gets done.”
He said vandalism would be less if the lighting was improved. “We need to work harder on that from a safety perspective.”
La Jolla residents have expressed frustration with the street-light outages, some of which have lasted more than a year, with little or no response from the city.
Other BRCC News
Discount application: After months of development, the BRCC discount trade app was launched at the beginning of the year, providing users with special deals at Bird Rock companies. Anyone who is a member of BRCC can access the application.
“It was a big project, but the goal of the app is to garner local support for businesses and offer discounts to places that residents visit often,” Bender said. “There are 14 merchants on the app right now. The goal is to have 20 by the end of March.”
With promotions that change every three months, establishments are on the app from beauty salons and exercise studios to home repair services and retail stores.
Forward Sewell Street: Bird Rock Conservation Assessment District representative, Barbara Dunbar, states that a drainage sump installed on La Jolla Street on Forward Street has successfully diverted rainwater into a rainwater drainage stream on nearby Midway Street, reducing flooding in the area. “It seems to be working a lot better than we had before,” she said.
The junction often floods after moderate to heavy rain, leading residents to refer to the area as “Lake Forward.” The sump was installed in October.
next meeting: The next Bird Rock Community Council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1, temporarily online. Learn more through birdrockcc.org. ◆