Request met with mixed response
By Marlena Chavira-Medford
A request by Del Mar city officials for a letter of support from the Solana Beach City Council regarding Del Mar's possible purchase of the fairgrounds was met with mixed reactions during the Oct. 13 Solan Beach City Council meeting.
Solana Beach mayor Tom Campbell, councilmember Joe Kellejian, and councilmember Mike Nichols said they are not prepared to pledge their support, though deputy mayor Lesa Heebner and councilmember David Roberts were open to at least drafting a letter.
So far, the potential sale has garnered quite a bit of regional backing, including public support from County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, Vista Mayor Morris Vance, and commitments from the cities of Carlsbad, Encinitas, Lemon Grove and National City.
But not everybody is onboard. State assembly representative Martin Garrick, who lives in Solana Beach, is opposed to the sale. Opposition like that could prove to be a roadblock for the deal, which has led Del Mar to seek local support.
"[The City of Del Mar] would like to not have any negative comments right now from the local area, so any type of letter we could do as a city to support this initiative I think would help them, and I think it would also help give us the ability to keep negotiating with them," said Solana Beach councilmember David Roberts, who attended the Oct. 13 community relations council ad hoc committee meeting between Del Mar and Solana Beach city officials, when the request for the letter was made.
Solana Beach mayor Tom Campbell, who also participated in that ad hoc meeting, said he was hesitant to publically endorse the deal without knowing all the details, which cannot be disclosed yet due to a cloak of secrecy from the governor's office. Del Mar city officials also approached San Diego city and county officials early on to see if either entity would be interested in purchasing the fairgrounds, perhaps as a joint powers authority. However, Del Mar city officials never approached anyone from Solana Beach, something that Campbell said troubled him.
"I found it a bit concerning that they reached out to the city of San Diego and the county of San Diego in terms of joint power authorities, but they didn't reach out to any other cities within the local region here. I'm not sure what the motivation for that was, but it was a bit of a concern to me."
If Del Mar takes over the fairgrounds, a nonprofit group with a nine-member board would oversee operations. Of those nine seats, five would go to Del Mar, one would go to the City of San Diego, one would go to Solana Beach, one would go to the San Diego County, and one would go to the San Dieguito River Park joint powers authority. Solana Beach councilmember Joe Kellejian said he thinks Solana Beach deserves more than one seat.
"It doesn't seem right to me, it doesn't seem neighborly to me that we only get one seat," he said. "We want to have more control here in Solana Beach, and I can tell you that having dealt with this issue for many years.