By Kristina Houck
A local group seeking to rent Solana Beach’s refurbished Fletcher Cove Community Center for private events filed a voter initiative with the city on Aug. 27.
The City Council agreed on a tentative use policy for the facility during a special meeting Aug. 7 and is expected to approve a formal resolution Aug. 28 (after presstime for this newspaper). Originally launched after council members tabled the matter in June, the Friends of the Fletcher Cove Community Center decided to move forward with its initiative.
The initiative calls for private use of the center on up to two weekend days per week that must end by 10 p.m., including cleanup. The initiative also limits the city to charging “nominal fees” for special event permits and rentals.
The group had to collect 1,311 valid signatures from registered Solana Beach voters, or 15 percent of the total, within 180 days to prompt a special election on the measure. About 60 volunteers and several paid workers collected more than 2,000 signatures, 70 percent of which volunteers collected, said Mary Jane Boyd, a Solana Beach resident and member of the Friends of Fletcher Cove Community Center.
“We mostly went door-to-door so we could talk to help them understand what the issue is and why we are doing this,” Boyd said. “In spite of what [a speaker at the Aug. 7 special meeting] said — that we gave him misinformation and people didn’t know what they were signing — that’s not true. People in Solana Beach are smart, and they don’t sign things that they don’t know what they’re signing. They fully understand the issue and why we are doing it.”
During a special meeting Aug. 7, council members agreed the center should be available for private events during a trial period beginning Aug. 29 through Dec. 31, 2014. The compromise calls for no more than one private party rental at $50 per hour with a two-hour minimum every other weekend. No more than 50 guests will be allowed at events, which require a security guard. Beer and wine can be served, but there will be a two-drink limit per guest, and a trained host will be required.
“What they [the City Council] had done is set up some special descriptions for the use of this facility to restrict its use,” Boyd said. “We don’t want those restrictions and we don’t need those restrictions.
“We just want to use the facility and have the noise, parking and alcohol be controlled by established city ordinances. We’re not asking for any special rules.”
Solana Beach resident Ed Creed, who is a neighbor of Boyd’s, said he signed the petition after Boyd’s husband, Roger, informed him about the initiative, but he later requested his signature be removed. Creed said he was told the purpose of the initiative was to have a policy that allows private events at the center. Now that council members will likely approve a resolution regarding the facility’s use, Creed doesn’t believe there should be a special election.