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.