Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his wife Ann Romney have been lobbying hard to build a new dream manse by the sea in La Jolla’s tony Barber Tract, going so far as to dispatch Mrs. Romney to appear before the San Diego City Council to complain about sloppy permit-notice-giving that was gumming up the works. “Notice defects can be problematic for transparent government and public participation, two things that Mitt and I strongly support,” she told the council. “I urge you to make sure that stronger protections are put in place in the future so that permits are processed efficiently and correctly and the public is afforded the proper notice and opportunity to be heard.” Her plea parted downtown’s bureaucratic waters, and the teardown project now appears likely to proceed. However, the same may not be said for the Romneys’ beachside community group.
Known as the Barber Tract Neighborhood Association, the group’s solemn motto is “to band together to identify, discuss, and deal effectively with neighborhood concerns.” But all is not the drudgery of the day-to-day planning and zoning issues found in a typical oceanfront residential area. Every July 4th, the association puts together a well-appointed parade, featuring antique cars and nattily dressed, flag-waving vintage residents meandering through the streets of the exclusive residential district, as described by the group’s newsletter, the Barber Tract Times: “We will follow our usual parade route, with patriotic music, through the White Sands of La Jolla’s property, to bring holiday spirit to our lovely retired neighbors. Decorate yourself, your bikes, scooters, skateboards, golf carts and convertibles, we love it all! “
Besides the Romneys, other mega-millionaires ensconced in the tract include the couple’s close friend and fellow Mormon John Miller and his wife and family, owners of the former Cliff Robertson estate just next door to Ann and Mitt. Miller, a partner with Romney’s son Taggart Romney in the lucrative private-equity outfit Solamere Capital, has been busy on a lavish remodel of the historic 1.4-acre beachfront estate.
But even with all that cash floating around the neighborhood, the Barber Tract Association faces uncertain times, warns this month’s newsletter. “The year 2013 has brought some disappointing membership news. For over 15 years our neighborhood has maintained an average of 125 active families in our membership. This year our membership drive yielded 75 families. Unfortunately, the decrease of 50 members leaves us with a short fall in our budget of $1,750.00.
“We are not certain why our membership has fallen off so dramatically,” the newsletter goes on to say. “There have been no complaints forwarded to the President of the association. The dues we all pay annually provide us with the printing cost of the newsletter, the website, the insurance that covers our association, and the events we all enjoy such as: the July 4th Parade, the Annual Brunch, [and] the Holiday Party.”