Solana Beach City Council out of control

Listening to the Solana Beach City Council discussing the Fletcher Cove Community Center on Oct. 9 was an appalling, disgraceful and the worst example of public officials in action that I have ever seen.

The issue was largely to do with the initiative that has been circulated, signed and certified for a public vote to provide reasonable use permitting for the community center.  Over two years of waiting for the City Council to decide on a use permit, the Friends of the Fletcher Cove Community Center (FCCC) decided in July to go to the registered voters with an initiative of their own to get the issue to closure.

The issue has drawn so much attention that the petitioners gathered more than 1,000 signatures in less than two weeks.  They had no idea that this had such broad appeal, and by the end of the month, there were more than 2,000 signatures gathered.  The required amount of signatures to qualify for the ballot is 15 percent of the registered voters, which is just a little more than 1,300.  Having reached and surpassed that number, the petitions were submitted for certification to the city clerk and then to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.  The petition signatures were certified 30 days later at the end of September. The timing was such that the initiative also qualified for a Special Election.  Did the FCCC plan it that way? No, they had no idea that they could gather that number of signatures that quickly.  Remember, the real timing of all of this was in the hands of the City Council who took two years to study ($32,000 for consultants and staff time) the project and started with proposed fees of $300 plus per hour for use, no alcohol, no parking on the public streets nearby, and very limited activity for the community center — all causing concern for many residents.  Finally, the fees came down and some beer and wine was allowed (two drinks per event), but then it came with even more onerous restrictions and less available usage for weekend rentals.

Now the City Council has a choice: either go to a costly special election in January or adopt the initiative’s reasonable language for the community center use permit. The council members obviously didn’t like their choices, hence the nasty tongue-lashing and labeling of individual citizens and taxpayers as liars, deceitful, vultures, disgusting, black mailers, etc. from the dais at the meeting. One person on the council even went so far as to say: “Political vultures who want power” and then named one respected woman in the audience as liar several times over. I, too, was called out for not currently living in Solana Beach even though I still own property and pay taxes in the city, having lived and raised my family there for 33 years, served for 14 years on the Solana Beach School Board and 14 more years on the Solana Beach City Council.  I now live in a neighboring community, but my heart is still in Solana Beach, where I still shop, visit friends and volunteer for several organizations.

Well now, if you want to see this for yourself, you can view the council meeting on the city’s website. Look under “Public Meetings,” then go to the Oct. 9 City Council video and council discussion, which starts at 1 hour and 44 minutes into the video.  These are your elected officials, and with one possible exception, badly in need of a lesson in decorum and manners for public officials.

I sure hope city funds are not wasted on any more studies or a special election, and a reasonable use permit can be adopted. However, with the current dysfunctional attitude at City Hall, who knows – the ball is in their court.  The initiative isn’t asking for anything new, just reinstating what was expected to continue, reasonable permitted uses for our Fletcher Cove Community Center after citizens donated $225,000, plus many work hours toward its renovation.

Marion Dodson

Related posts:

  1. Citizen initiative filed, should be adopted by Solana Beach City Council
  2. Urge City Council to adopt Fletcher Cove Community Center Initiative
  3. Solana Beach City Council is getting a bum rap
  4. ‘Friends of Fletcher Cove Community Center’ responsible for costly election
  5. Solana Beach Council’s compromise addresses problems related to parking, access and safety

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Posted by Staff on Oct 18, 2013. Filed under Letters, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

1 Comment for “Solana Beach City Council out of control”

  1. David Zito

    There were definitely some pointed comments made at the last council meeting and I agree with Ms. Dodson that residents should go to the City website to watch this item; however I suggest the entire agenda item be viewed including the staff report and public comments as this will help provide much more context and background for the subsequent statements. The staff report begins at approximately the 59th minute and may be accessed by simply clicking on the “C1” agenda item topic in the Agenda list.

    The genesis for some of the comments made during the meeting is based in the misrepresentation of the facts by the initiative proponents, and the above letter from Ms. Dodson further demonstrates this problem as well as earlier letters from Ms. Boyd. One may debate whether the misinformation is intentional, but it’s certainly happening. An example from the note above is that Ms. Dodson states that signatures of 15% of the registered voters are required in order to qualify for the ballot. However, the truth is that signatures of only 10% of the voters are required to qualify for a general election, and only if you would like to force a special election do you then turn in signatures from 15% of the registered voters (California election code sections 9214, 9215.) The initiative proponents took multiple steps to ensure that calling a special election would be required:

    1) They demanded it in the body of their petition and their cover letter. This is not required. If they were willing to wait for a regularly scheduled election they did not need to demand a special election in the body of their petition.
    2) They submitted enough signatures to force the special election. If they did not want to force the special election then they should have turned in their signatures as soon as the 10% threshold was crossed rather than collecting more, as while this would have still required the Council to call an election it would have then enabled the Council to wait until the next regularly scheduled election.
    3) They turned in their signatures early enough to ensure that the Council could not consolidate with the upcoming primary election. The initiative proponents had more than 4 additional months to turn in their signatures and still qualify for the ballot. If they had waited a mere 2-3 more weeks prior to doing so the council would have been permitted to put this measure on the June 2014 primary ballot instead of calling for a special election.

    The initiative proponents were diligent enough to hire a well-known San Francisco based elections attorney in an attempt to hide who is paying for much of this effort as well as how much is being spent, so one can only assume that they knew what they were doing when they demanded a special election. I don’t have any issues with them doing so as this is the democratic process; our state laws allow for citizens to circulate a petition to force a special election and this is what has been done in this case. However, now that the information is beginning to circulate that this election will cost the city in excess of $200,000 I do have a problem with the proponents backing down and claiming they didn’t know what they were doing; it is very clear that the initiative proponents felt that holding an election on the use of this public facility for private parties adopting their rules was of utmost importance and needed to happen ASAP, regardless the cost.

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