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  • Writer's pictureABIGAIL SAHM

New Solar Panels for La Jolla Community Center

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

This story first appeared in the La Jolla Light. Read it here in its original form.

La Jolla Community Center (LJCC) will be sporting a new roof and solar panels next year, and has its community partnerships to thank for it.

“The existing roof predates the 10 years the building has been the LJCC,” said board member and facilities committee chair Don Hodges, in an interview with the Light.

Estimating the roof’s age at more than 20 years old, he added, “We have experienced roof leaks the last few winters that were patched by various roofers, but it’s worn out; it’s time to replace the roof.”

The discussion of a new roof among board members generated the idea to add solar panels.

“Our monthly utility bills are a substantial part of our operating costs,” Hodges explained, “so we decided it would be a good idea to be forward-looking with solar to save money. Also, it’s the right thing to do, environmentally.”

The cost of the roof and panels project lands just under $150,000.

“The end result will be a Community Center that can be showcased for its sustainable business practices, at a savings of $5,000 to $7,000 annually in our energy costs that can then be applied to program and other operational improvement,” Hodges pointed out.

He said the roof-replacement process began in winter 2018, when the board ran an ad campaign to gather donations from community members. Then the board applied for grants, securing nearly half the money needed from the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program through San Diego Supervisor Nathan Fletcher’s office.

Another near-half came from Las Patronas.

“We are grateful to Supervisor Fletcher’s office, Las Patronas, the Kiwanis Club, and our other generous donors for coming through with the money for our new roof,” Hodges shared.

Concurrent with the drive to fund the roof was the cash search for the solar panels.

“We asked the San Diego Senior Foundation if they had any funding sources to help the environmental profile of the Center,” he said.

“They forwarded the request to the Sahm Foundation, which generously donated most of the money for the solar panels. With the added donations from other individuals, we got the money to complete the project, which is now in the final stages of permitting. We will soon move to roofing contractor selection, already in progress for the solar portion.

“In the best possible world, we’d begin work in the dry season, August or September of this year, and complete it early 2021.”

However, Hodges speculated the timeline is subject to delays caused by the current coronavirus situation, as permitting offices have limited hours and contractors are reducing workloads. He expects most of the new roof, or all of it, will be installed before the solar panels are connected.

“Our west-facing roof is our best bet for the panels,” he explained, noting they will not cover the entire roof.

— La Jolla Community Center sits at 6811 La Jolla Blvd. All its programs have been postponed until further notice, due to the coronavirus lock-down. For more information, call (858) 459-0831 or visit


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