By Kristina Houck
A local group announced it launched a new voter initiative to rent out Solana Beach’s refurbished Fletcher Cove Community Center for private events.
During the Solana Beach City Council meeting on July 10, members of the Friends of the Fletcher Cove Community Center said they launched the initiative so voters could weigh in on the issue after council members failed to establish a set of rules for renting the center.
“Our interest here is to take this matter to the voters since there was no resolution here at the council,” said former Solana Beach Mayor Tom Golich.
The Fletcher Cove Community Center was rented for private events for more than 50 years before falling into disrepair in the 1990s, Golich said. He added citizens raised $225,000 for renovations believing the center would be rented for classes, meetings, weddings and other events.
The city has considered the issue since the $350,000 renovation of the center was completed in 2011. The city spent nearly $32,000 on environmental studies regarding a proposal to rent the center out for private functions.
The matter was tabled indefinitely after the City Council debated to a stalemate at its June 12 meeting.
“Local government is always talking about transparency, but sometimes I don’t think they know what the meaning is,” said former Solana Beach Mayor Celine Olson. “The society raised some two-thirds of the money required while working hard to raise funds for the remodel. I do not recall transparency about the severe restrictions that would be placed on its use. Now, for no transparent reasons, long-established community uses will not even be allowed.”
The proposal pitted people who live near the center against other residents who want the facility to be made available for private events. Neighborhood residents were concerned about alcohol being served at the events, impacts on parking and noise disturbances.
Olson said she believed the City Council is “protecting the neighbors on Pacific Avenue.”
“As I recall, the Coastal Act was passed to provide the people with more access to the coastal beauties. I think we’re violating the Coastal Act by shutting the people out. If you do not reconsider your actions, may I suggest you rename the building the ‘Pacific Avenue Meditation Center: No Chanting Allowed. Way Too Noisy for the Neighbors.’”
The Friends of Fletcher Cove Community Center must collect 1,301 signatures, or 15 percent of Solana Beach voters, within 180 days to prompt a special election on the measure.