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La Jolla News Nuggets: March 26-April 1

It’s official! The neighborhood Albertsons grocery store on Turquoise Street (off La Jolla Boulevard), frequented by many Bird Rockers and south-side La Jollans, is now Haggen Food & Pharmacy.

The Washington state-based grocery chain Haggen Inc. bought 146 Albertsons and Safeway stores in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona, including 25 in San Diego County. Haggen CEO Bill Shaner describes the grocer’s business plan as “somewhere between a Vons and Whole Foods.”

La Jolla will host Special Olympics athletes

Through a partnership between UC San Diego and the La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA), La Jolla will host 338 delegates from India who are coming to California this summer to compete in the Special Olympics World Games.

Special Olympics has teamed up with a number of communities across Southern California to accommodate some 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from around the world participating in its World Games, July 25-Aug. 2 in Los Angeles. The event is the largest sporting and humanitarian event in the world to be held in 2015, and the largest event to be held in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympics.

La Jolla will host athletes from India, and University City will host athletes from Costa Rica prior to the games, during which time volunteers will introduce the athletes to American arts, athletics, festivals, parades and theme parks. While in La Jolla, delegates will spend three days touring the Village, attending a San Diego Padres game and other events, said LJVMA executive director Sheila Fortune, the La Jolla “host town chair.”

India and Costa Rica have the largest number of competitors outside United States. While here, they and their families will stay at UCSD.

Fortune said no money collected from merchants within La Jolla’s business improvement district will be used for the program, which will be administered entirely by volunteers.

“The international media attention and exposure of the games will highlight all of our host towns, as well as expose our Village to a large international market and leave them with a desire to consider visiting La Jolla again in the future,” Fortune said, via e-mail. “Plus, it is a part of history in the making.”

Committee to take up vacation rental issue

Short-term vacation rentals (STVR) continue to be a hot topic in La Jolla and other beach communities. The San Diego City Council’s Smart Growth & Land Use committee will take up the issue next, 9 a.m.Wednesday, April 22 in the 12th floor committee room of City Hall, 202 C Street. The meeting is open to the public.

Last year, an ad hoc committee of the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) spent nearly eight months addressing the issue, hearing from industry representatives and opponents who say some property owners are renting houses for loud parties and to unruly tenants. LJCPA trustees ultimately rejected most of its ad hoc committee’s recommendations to strengthen regulation of STVRs, instead opting to recommend the city impose a permit fee to fund increased enforcement of existing STVR regulations.

During the March meeting of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association, Jonah Mechanic and Lucas Murdock of the San Diego Vacation Rental Managers Alliance noted that following the LJCPA process their organization created its own list of proposed “common sense regulations” to more effectively monitor STVRs, which it recently presented to the Pacific Beach Planning Group.

“The La Jolla process was very combative,” Murdock said. “We went into the Pacific Beach process with a different mindset. We do not want this to keep bubbling up every three months, batting it down and having it come back up again.”

Vacation-rental industry recommendations are to support occupancy and parking limitations, noise abatement policies, the mandatory posting of contact information for the property owner and making it mandatory for vacation rental operators to pay their required transient occupancy taxes (and posting their registration number on all marketing materials). The recommendations also call for vacation rental operators to seek a permit to operate their vacation rental (renewable annually) that would include “tiered fines and/or penalties for violations of the aforementioned rules.”

“Bad operators would get weeded out because of the renewal process,” Murdock said. “Revenues generated (would) get put into a fund directly to enforce new regulations around noise, occupancy rates, parking violations and things along those lines.”

Murdock said the vacation rental industry does not support: limiting the number of rentals in a neighborhood, the length of stay or the number of days a home can be rented in a given year.

“When we focus on eliminating disturbances, there is no reason to limit homeowners’ rights, deter tourism, and negatively impact both municipal and local business revenue,” Murdock said.

School raising funds for heart research

Bird Rock Elementary School hosted the annual Jump Rope for Heart event, March 18, to raise funds and awareness for the American Heart Association. Students donated money from their piggy banks, allowance and donations from family and neighbors for research into heart defects and heart disease. Donations are being collected until April 18. Those who wish to contribute may contact Jennie Brane at (858) 210-8249 or jennie.brane@heart.org

Blood Bank has urgent call for O-negative

San Diego Blood Bank is responding to a critical need for O-negative blood at an area hospital. Due to the nature of the emergency, the hospital anticipates a large quantity of O-neg blood being transfused. To make an appointment, call (619) 296-6393 or visit SanDiegoBloodBank.org

Salk open house for young minds, April 11

The Salk Institute will open its doors to the community, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 11, for the third annual Explore Salk, featuring staff-guided lab tours, self-guided architectural tours, science booths and talks by Salk researchers.

Family friendly activities include a Kids’ Discovery Zone, a mobile science lab with hands-on experiments and a virtual lab tour with a Q&A session for preteens interested in pursuing a career in science.

New this year is a small group, hands-on lab tour. It’s an opportunity for guests who want a more in-depth experience and the chance to ask questions of the researchers. There is a $25 materials fee per person and preregistration is required.

A free, general lab tour will give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at two laboratories where research is conducted in neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology and related disciplines. Participants for either lab tour must be age 16 or older.

Two science talks will be given during the second half of the day, the first by assistant professor Saket Navlakha, “How Biology Solves Technology Problems, and the second by Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute, chief academic officer at Scripps Health and a professor of genomics at The Scripps Research Institute, based on his book, “The Patient Will See You Now: The future of medicine is in your hands.”

Online preregistration is required for the lab tours. For more information, call (858) 597-0657 or visit salk.edu/exploresalk.

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