IT ALL BEGAN in 1961, when a small group of residents met to discuss ways to improve Point Loma Village. The very first project was purchasing containers for bottlebrush trees donated by the City of San Diego. The group gained official status in 1964, when Point Loma Village Beautiful was founded. The 200 founding members met at the San Diego Yacht Club on September 29, 1964 for the first fundraising dinner. With the proceeds from the $25/couple event, the founders planted 65 Jacaranda trees along Rosecrans at a cost of $1900.
There is still much more to do, but with patience, perseverance, and YOUR SUPPORT, we’ll succeed.
In the early days, the organization’s main concerns were planting trees and advocating for the removal of billboards, power lines – and massage parlors. In the seventies, PLVB continued planting trees and fighting for the removal of utility poles, and began replacing advertising benches with wrought iron ones. During the eighties, a huge membership drive increased membership to 1,350, and Point Loma Village Association (new name) turned its attention to saving Dana Middle School and fighting parking problems on Rosecrans. The nineties saw the addition of new street signs, more tree plantings, and a $6,000 donation towards 30 palm trees at Median 4 (Ed’s Triangle).
The PLA marked the 21st century by becoming a major sponsor for the Point Loma Summer Concerts, and with new bus benches, the Utility Box Project, the Mean Green Team, Hugh Story Memorial, Graffiti Gang, Celestial Gardens, and the Soto Street shed. We have planted more than 800 trees in Point Loma, including more Jacarandas along Rosecrans and adjacent streets, and Sycamore and Pepper trees along Cañon Street; we have added landscaping in front of Dewey Elementary and Dana Middle schools; and replaced asphalt along Nimitz Blvd. with beautiful landscaped medians and parkways. Since 2011, the PLA has undertaken four major median projects at a cost of nearly $207,000.
Mrs. Brasier Burnham
Helen James Fane
Fritz and Klonie Kunzel
Alice and Charles Patrick
Del Burnham Rice
POINT LOMA ASSOCIATION: A 50-YEAR HISTORY 1961-2011
By Kerri De Rosier
This history was extracted by pouring over scrapbooks lovingly maintained by PLA Historian Klonie Kunzel, and from interviews with some of the people who have dedicated their lives to our community. In both, I found optimism, heroism, doggedness, activism, and love for our beautiful community. Like Klonie said, why there aren’t 10,000 PLA members is beyond me.
It’s hard to piece together PLA’s history without delving into other community issues that PLA didn’t necessarily lead – but certainly weighed in on. Issues such as the airport, NTC Re-use, America’s Cup Harbor, re-opening Dana Middle School, and sewage treatment, of all things. And PLA has persevered – and experienced déjà vu. While reviewing the scrapbooks, I found myself shaking my head – we’ve been working on some of the same issues for years: homelessness, traffic, newsracks, girlie joints, billboards, graffiti, and undergrounding utility lines. Like Dick Lareau said many times during our interview, “It makes you want to cry.” But you can also get teary just thinking about what our community would look like if the PLA didn’t exist.
A shorter version of this timeline was published in the Summer 2011 PLA newsletter [link]. With the timeline are interviews with notable members. I had expected to hear a lot about how the PLA has changed over the years. It really hasn’t. The PLA has remained true to its original mission – beautification and improving our quality of life. Sure, the PLA changed its name from Point Loma Village Beautiful to reflect that we were moving beyond the Village. Like Dick Lareau said, we went from a group of “do gooders without a plan” to one with plans and credibility. We have learned to invite everyone to the table.
At the end of our interview, Dick Lareau leaned across the table and said, “All it takes is YOU and ME.”
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