June 29: Letters to the editor

Short-term rentals have long played a key role in Del Mar

Del Mar’s recent attempt to restrict residents’ renting of their homes for less then 30 days is yet another alarming example of the exclusionary direction our local government is trying to take Del Mar without concern for what is actually best for Del Mar. For 45 years I have been a permanent resident of Del Mar, dating back to when Camino Del Mar was a 55 mph, four-lane highway, there was gas station on the corner of 15th street and 101, and Jimmy Durante was not just a boulevard but a living, breathing person. Since the 1930s, vacation rentals have served a very specific role... a gateway for those that wish to experience Del Mar’s truly unique coastal feel. I can tell you firsthand that these short-term rentals have not proliferated in the immediate residential beach zones of Del Mar as both the City Council and some squeaky wheel citizens would have you believe. Vacation rentals have always been prolific and popular in this area and even though the draw for these rentals has changed from Del Mar Racetrack goers in the 1930s - 1990s to family beach goers today, the volume of these rentals has not changed like is being suggested.

This small group of citizens seeking to make Del Mar fit their idyllic image of an enclave exclusive to them are missing the point of what Del Mar is and has always been. A wonderful destination for people wanting to experience, even for a brief moment, Southern California. Sun, sand, ponies, laughter and family moments frozen in time... That is what Del Mar is really about and to try and deny that to others is frankly disgusting and not at all what we, as a community, should be about.

While I myself do not own a short-term rental (STR), even I recognize the key role they play and have always played in making Del Mar the special dot on the map it is and I feel compelled to defend the basic rights of all property owners to own, use and enjoy their hard- earned homes when under siege by a misdirected elite few and a governmental body led astray of what is best for this community. Del Mar is being led down a dangerous path.

Eric Charnholm

President, Del Mar Alliance for the Preservation of Beach Access and Village

Memoir of a failed Solana Beach candidacy

Since our incorporation in 1986, wherever possible, I’ve worked to create a greater sense of community here in Solana Beach. I was persuaded to run for City Council in last November’s election. Although this isn’t the place to go into why I “lost by a landslide,” the following were among the main ideas that I would have promoted.

1. We are relatively unknown outside of Solana Beach. It seems to me that it would enhance our sense of identity if Lomas Santa Fe were to be renamed Solana Beach Drive west of the freeway. After all, there’s La Jolla Village Drive, Del Mar Heights Rd., Encinitas Blvd., Carlsbad Blvd., and Oceanside Blvd. Many drivers on I-5 don’t know how to get to Solana Beach?

2. Our City Council rotates the position of Mayor every year. When I randomly surveyed folks in town, most could not even name our Mayor. Our Mayor, a largely ceremonial position, should become a four-year position. It should be someone with an outgoing personality who can be spontaneous and welcoming at civic functions, at ribbon-cuttings, at schools, as well as being someone who can be an effective good-will ambassador for Solana Beach.

3. Surprisingly, most folks in Solana Beach don’t know that we have an official city song. It was unanimously adopted by our City Council in 2006! It’s a catchy tune (certainly as catchy as “Jingle Bells”) that celebrates our unique culture along with the many virtues of living in Solana Beach. To create a greater sense of inclusion in our terrific community, it should be included at such events as Little League games, the Fiesta del Sol, Concerts at the Cove, our Beach Blanket Movie Nights, and at city anniversary celebrations. Our National Anthem creates a sense of pride in our country. Including our city song, “Solana Beach, Our City Proud,” in community events would certainly add to our pride in living here.

We’ve consistently had a very progressive city government led by committed councilmembers. I would like to respectfully suggest that they publicly consider the above ideas that I would have promoted had I been elected to our City Council.

Ed Siegel

Losing candidate for City Council in the 2016 election

Clarifying how SFID’s 9% revenue adjustment translates into varying percentage rate increases

Regarding the June 22 article, “Water Board approves budget containing rate increase,” I wish to explain the inaccuracies behind the following statement: “…and two 9 percent rate increases already instituted in January and last June.”

Santa Fe Irrigation District’s (SFID) approved 2016 Cost of Service Study (COSS) set forth a three-year revenue adjustment of 9%, 9%, 9%.

Last June’s 9% revenue adjustment resulted in a wide percentage of rate increases.

Single family residential customers, depending on the size of their meter and the amount of water consumed, had water bills that ranged from decreases of – 4.5% to increases of 24.3%, a 28.8% swing. In general, the larger the meter and the higher the water consumption, the higher the percentage rate increase. However, the June 2016 rate increase also resulted in customers with the smallest meter, and the smallest water consumption, having their water bills increase 20%.

The 2017 9% revenue adjustment did not result in the wide range of rate increase percentages experienced June 2016 to December 2016. This current year’s rate increase percentages generally range from 8% to 12.5%; higher rate increase percentages fell to customers who used more water, regardless of the size of their meter.

At present, I am unable to determine the actual customer bill impacts of the COSS proposed 2018 9% revenue adjustment, as district staff has yet to run the recently adopted wholesale pass-through increases through the COSS rate model.

Why is this distinction between a 9% revenue adjustment and variable rate increase percentages important?

Well…if you’re the owner of a large parcel and have 2017 water bills that are based on a two-year accumulated rate increase in the neighborhood of 30% – 35%, reading that “…two 9 percent rate increases already instituted in January and last June” probably smarts. If you’re the owner of a small parcel and use very little water, knowing that your 2017 water bill is based on a two-year rate increase of around 28% probably likewise smarts. In fact, having run the numbers on 15 different single family residence customer classes, not a one of those 15 examples actually resulted in a 9% increase!

The SFID Board of Directors has been discussing rate impacts for several board meetings and two special meeting workshops. The June board meeting agenda included a comprehensive schedule for a new COSS to be undertaken throughout 2018, to be adopted by November 2018, to potentially take effect January 2019.

Marlene E. King

SFID Board Member, Div. 3, Fairbanks Ranch and large portion of the Covenant

City should not condone unfair ‘money grab’

In February in the early evening, I was travelling east on Lomas Santa Fe Drive in my car. As I crossed into the intersection at Solana Hills Drive, I noticed a rapid flashing light. I suspected that a photo light camera had spotted me. Sure enough within a week or 10 days I received a moving violation citation in the mail. The fine was for $531. Being that I am a law-abiding citizen, I decided not to challenge the ticket. I felt that I was probably guilty according to their evidence. Whether the light changed more quickly at the intersection, or whether my car was just inches short over the line, or whether or not the camera was functioning properly, I do not know. However, I was clearly not happy, and I think most citizens who have been entrapped by this unseen technology sanctioned by the City of Solana Beach are just as unhappy.

Many surrounding cities throughout California (including the city of San Diego) and other states have discontinued their use of cameras, because of increased reported accidents, angry residents, and tourists who are caught and refuse to ever visit those cities again. Also, the violation is an expensive one, which means revenue for the city is at the center of the issue. For me, the solution for my peace of mind, was simple. As I pass through the city of Solana Beach, I have stopped being a consumer of goods and services. I will not buy coffee, home improvement items, gasoline, entertainment, food, or any forms of recreation, etc. Now several months later, I have kept my word. This is a small protest to be sure, but over a year’s time, the money I have typically spent at local businesses is many times the amount of this egregious traffic fine. After this incident, I cannot support a city that condones an unfair and phenomenally unpopular “money grab.”

Gregory Thompson

Carmel Valley

In reply to letter

In the June 22, 2017 print issue of this newspaper, Mr. Zahn partially rebuts my letter of June 16. Lacking any source citation in Mr. Zahn’s letter concerning the oft-mentioned “97% of climate scientists agree…” please consider the fallacious statistical argument built by John Cook based on only 34 self-identified climate scientists here: bit.ly/1hspClA

If the above citation applies to Mr. Zahn’s letter, he is passing on incorrect information as to any consensus that is statistically valid. And, should a reader be interested in reality- based, footnoted data one can examine for veracity using their own methods, you can refer to the citations in my June 16 letter. Analyze and conclude on your own.

I did not read a direct comment in Mr. Zahn’s letter about my questioning the use of government force in providing a CCA or CCE with customers at the initial establishment of the entity. The state enabling legislation, AB 117, simply forces current utility customers to become CCA customers at the initial establishment of a CCA. Then, once a customer has been forced in, that customer can “opt-out.” As I stated on June 16, if a CCA is such a great benefit to a customer, why the need for force to create a customer base?

Finally, I find it a misuse of the term “competition” in this context of using a newly formed government monopoly as competition. Funded through taxation (as the only money non-federal governments have is taken via fees and taxes from productive citizens), a CCA cannot be a legitimate alternative competitive source to the private capital that operates SDG&E. Since when is private capital ever on a level playing field with government taxing and regulating activity? A curious reader will also learn that a CCA cannot exist independently of say an SDG&E. The investor-owned Sempra must allow a CCA to use its infrastructure, billing and technical support, as it cannibalizes Sempra’s customers. This is not competition.

I am not in favor of the SDG&E service area monopoly established by government action. Private enterprise should produce competition, whereas government authority produces barriers to entry, and typically restrains progress. Adding another layer of government to the utility business is hardly the correct answer. Freedom and private initiative, not regulation, is the correct answer.

Bill Stoops

Solana Beach

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