The community of La Jolla is currently exploring a proposal that seeks to separate itself from the City of San Diego, operating as an autonomous city rather than a mere neighborhood. According to Trace Wilson, president of the Association for the City of La Jolla, the primary objective of this initiative is to detach from San Diego and establish self-governance within La Jolla, ultimately fostering progress for the entire region, according to a recent report by Fox News 5. Wilson argues that San Diego’s resources are thinly spread, whereas La Jolla possesses the means to sustain itself and contribute positively to the surrounding communities.
The proposed separation has been previously suggested by residents, but this new effort has been in progress for nearly two years, with a dedicated board assembled to oversee the process. A preliminary map outlines the boundaries of the prospective city of La Jolla, encompassing the western areas of Interstate 5, spanning from Torrey Pines State Park to Tourmaline Beach. Notably, the map does not include the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), which Wilson perceives as a separate entity due to its substantial student population and the presence of “San Diego” in its name. It should be noted that the population of the university is likely more diverse in its demographic and economic status and may pose a counterweight to the association’s goals of secession.
To assess the viability and potential benefits of the proposal, the association is embarking on a financial analysis and gathering data from the City of San Diego. The Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) of San Diego will oversee the application process, commissioning an independent firm to conduct a comprehensive financial evaluation. The outcome of this evaluation will determine whether the proposal is advantageous or not, subsequently leading to a formal vote.
Trace Wilson explains that the initial steps involve conducting a preliminary fiscal impact analysis and collaborating with the Mayor’s office in San Diego to gather essential data. Following the financial assessment and understanding of the potential economic implications, the association will need to garner support from 25 percent of La Jolla residents to proceed with the application to LAFCO. If this criterion is met, LAFCO will then undertake a separate fiscal review from an alternative source, determining the feasibility of continuing the process. Ultimately, the proposal will be subject to two votes: one among San Diego City residents and another specifically within the proposed City of La Jolla.
Priscilla Mumpower, a Local Government Analyst with San Diego County LAFCO, explains that this particular case falls under the category of a “special reorganization,” necessitating two distinct votes. Mumpower highlights that these special reorganizations are typically protracted endeavors, and if the proposal successfully moves forward, the entire process could take several more years to finalize.
Del Mar and Malibu leaders, who have undergone similar processes to establish their own cities, have been engaged in discussions with La Jolla representatives, sharing insights and experiences.