Solana Beach deliberates use of renovated community center

By Claire Harlin

With sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and a pristine, newly renovated interior, the Fletcher Cove Community Center has residents excited about using the space for more than just the community meetings that have been held there for years. But being situated in a residential area, where noise is an issue and parking is scarce, city officials and residents are at odds on how much diversion to allow there.

“Unfortunately, we’ve created this beautiful asset and we’ve got an administrative nightmare here in terms of trying to deal with this on a fair basis that’s equitable to the folks who want to use it but also respecting the concerns of the neighbors,” said Solana Beach City Councilman Tom Campbell in a March 14 council discussion about use of the center.

The city presented proposed terms of use of the center, which underwent a $350,000 renovation last year. The once-decrepit building now has new floors, a kitchen, upgraded bathrooms and wheelchair accessibility. Upgrades to the outside of the center, including picnic tables, benches, widened sidewalks and possibly barbecues, are also in the works.

Expanding the use of the facility first came before the council in October in response to a growing number of requests from the public to use the blufftop venue. The facility is currently only being used for educational, city-sponsored and non-profit programs and meetings that were occurring prior to the renovation.

The city’s proposal, which will come before the council again before a formal policy is voted on, includes a $500 security deposit, a non-refundable cleaning fee of $105, a security guard fee of $25 and insurance of $83 to $125, depending on whether there will be alcohol at the event. Council opinions were mixed regarding the rental fee. Mayor Joe Kellejian said he would like to see use of the building cost as low as $200 per hour in order to encourage use for family gatherings like kids’ birthday parties. Councilwoman Lesa Heebner said she would support an hourly fee of $250 or more, and Councilman Mike Nichols said $350 per hour would be appropriate for the oceanfront facility.

The city proposal includes restricting the community center to ceremonial, non-recurring events and leisure activities that are noncommercial in nature. They must also take place on Friday, Saturday or Sunday and be reserved by a resident of Solana Beach.

Also in the proposal is a maximum occupancy of 50 people. Parking will be available in the lot adjacent to the community center or in nearby public lots, but parking in nearby residential neighborhoods is “strongly discouraged and will be monitored by security guards,” according to the proposal.

Both parking and noise were a major concern for some residents at the meeting. The proposal stated that music may be provided by a disk jockey or limited to no more than a three-piece amplified band, however, some residents countered that the number of people in a band is not relative to sound level.

The city is proposing that alcohol be allowed upon request and with approval, however, no alcohol can be sold and no alcohol can leave the building.



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