City Councilman Joe LaCava hosts a packed town hall meeting in Pacific Beach

City Councilman Joe LaCava speaking to a packed room in the Pacific Beach/Taylor Library during the town hall meeting.
City Councilman Joe LaCava speaking to a packed room in the Pacific Beach/Taylor Library during the March 21 town hall meeting he held for the PB community.
(Flora Coden)

It was a standing-room only crowd for City Councilman Joe LaCava’s first town hall meeting with Pacific Beach residents.

Held on March 21 in the Pacific Beach/Taylor Library, every seat in the room was filled in addition to many more standing in the back and along the sides. About half were coaches, parents and young athletes dressed in jerseys, shirts and hats advertising their local sports teams and leagues.

LaCava, who held the event as a way to meet his new constituents due to redistricting (he became Pacific Beach’s representative in December), said he understood what the group wanted to discuss — the De Anza Natural Plan. It is the proposed draft amendment to the Mission Bay Park Master Plan.

He started by reassuring attendees that the McEvoy sports fields and nearby golf course will remain and not be altered, a statement met with loud applause.

Still, a few individuals wanted further confirmation and clarification regarding potential alterations to the size of the sports fields or the adjacent tennis courts. LaCava assured them no changes would be made.

The crowd thinned to about roughly half the original size after the De Anza discussion.

LaCava told those who remained that he had not wanted a formal meeting, but instead more of a town hall format “because I want to hear the things that you care about.”

He introduced himself as “the councilmember you never voted for,” in reference to the recent redistricting, and introduced his staff. Carrie Shah, his Pacific Beach representative, received a loud applause.

LaCava listed some recent legislative accomplishments, including banning scooters from city sidewalks and boardwalks, as well as results obtained through the city’s Get it Done app. He encouraged residents to use the app to report issues such as potholes and burned out streetlights.

He spoke about the City Council’s efforts to secure funding for roundabouts, pothole repairs (19,000 since Jan. 1), future road improvements and an upcoming North PB lifeguard tower.

Some priorities he mentioned included getting utility companies to fix streets after completing their projects, increasing the San Diego police force that is currently understaffed by 200 officers and continuing to implement the street vendor ordinance. It bans street vendors from the boardwalk.

Attendees raised several issues during the public comment portion.

Marcie Beckett listed three concerns that several other attendees also mentioned. Namely, increases in housing density without increases to infrastructure; privately-owned electric bikes, scooters and skateboards on the boardwalk putting people at risk; and alcohol not being regulated on the beaches.

LaCava was especially sympathetic with the latter concern, stating that lack of enforcement of alcohol is a police issue, which is “unacceptable to me … there is no excuse for that.”

He added that he plans to have meetings about “commercialization of the beach” to discuss how to mitigate issues such as dangerous personal electric modes of transport on the boardwalk.

Regarding density, he said many building permits are not reviewed by the City Council, and quality of life will decrease with changes of this nature.

“I’m not here to make you like me, I’m here to give you information to empower you,” LaCava said when attendees expressed dissatisfaction with his density answer.

Constituents also complained about short-term rentals disrupting the residential neighborhoods and asked about the cap on whole-home rentals (about 5,200 allowed). Also raised was the need for an off-leash dog park in PB, requests for landlords to keep sidewalks and building facades clean, beach fires occurring without regulation, bike theft and the suggestion for bike cages.

Scott Chipman spoke on behalf of Mission Bay Gateway, which advocates for improving and expanding recreational facilities in the northeast section of Mission Bay.

John Cocozza, who was recently banned from selling his photography on the PB boardwalk, spoke in opposition of the blanket ban on vendors. He requested a distinction between those selling their homemade items versus store-bought souvenirs.

“Either everybody is allowed, or nobody is allowed,” LaCava responded.

LaCava encouraged constituents to contact his office directly with any further questions or concerns. He also mentioned that he will be attending the PB Farmers Market at least once a month beginning in April, and will advertise which date in advance.

LaCava’s office can be reached at 619-236-6611 and His office’s website is