Letters/Opinion: April, May 2019


April 11 issue:

Road a tragedy waiting to happen

Del Mar Heights Road west of I-5 (DMHR) continues to be a tragedy waiting to happen. Drivers routinely exceed the posted speed limit often by a wide margin endangering school children and other pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers attempting to turn at the road’s many intersections. Walking on the sidewalk is a perilous and harrowing experience as cars and trucks thunder by seemingly on the verge of careening off the roadway. It is only a matter of when, not if, a tragic accident occurs resulting in fatalities.

Despite repeated calls for action by members of the Del Mar community, the City of San Diego has taken virtually no action to improve the safety of the roadway. The countless years of unconscionable inaction must come to an end. It is time for the City of San Diego to finally implement a comprehensive redesign plan for DMHR incorporating critical, well recognized traffic calming measures many of which have been successfully incorporated on nearby roads. Two such examples are Carmel Valley Road between DMHR and Via Abertura/Evergreen Nursery and various stretches of Highway 101 between Genesee Avenue in Torrey Pines and Via De La Valle in Solana Beach.

I urge the City of San Diego to immediately make similar traffic calming improvements to DMHR as follows:

1. Construction of a raised and landscaped, tree lined center median wide enough to shelter a vehicle in an intersection.

2. Construction of substantial landscaped buffers separating and protecting both the bike lanes and the sidewalks from roadway traffic.

3. Lane reductions to one lane from Nogales Drive to Boquita Drive with a corresponding reduction in speed limit to 25 mph along that section of roadway.

4. Judicious use of roundabouts at strategic locations.

5. Expanded pedestrian-friendly sidewalks.

Local community planning boards and the City of San Diego must act now to transform DMHR from a roadway currently designed as a dangerous, noise polluting speedway to a safe, community and pedestrian friendly, tree-lined boulevard. It is a vision that can and must be realized. Our lives and the lives of our children depend on it.

Alan Rubinstein (the father and grandfather of residents of Del Mar Heights)

April 18:

Vote ‘Yes’ on Measure B

Don’t be fooled by the Not in My Backyard Coalition! Do your homework. This is an important election for Solana Beach. A handful of NIMBYs in the Los Caballitos neighborhood have been bouncing the terms “dangerous,” “treacherous” and “unsafe” around, regarding the proposal for a senior care facility on Genevieve. The road leading to the proposed facility is none of the above.

Simply look at the booklet received in the mail and notice the names below the argument against Measure B, they are the local HOA officers/members. Ask questions of the people posting negative things. These people live nearby and have adopted a not in my neighborhood attitude so that their neighborhood doesn’t change with the growth of Solana Beach.

Like it or not, Solana Beach is growing and there should be no exception for their little area. They’d rather have a derelict house on a vacant lot across the street than a nice place for senior citizens to peacefully live out the rest of their lives. They talk about toxicity from the freeway in that area, but happily raise their kids in the same environment.

They have staged video interviews and photos from creative angles that don’t depict actual conditions, or the section of the road people would use to get to the facility.

I urge you to drive through the area yourself and decide. Notice that Marine View is wide enough (24 ft.) to handle traffic for the center. Consider the source of negative comments and decide for yourself. We all love our little city, and everyone should share in its prosperity and growth.

Buster Bruce

Solana Beach

April 25:

Vote ‘No’ on Measure B

I do not profess to be the best informed on all the issues surrounding Measure B, but since I live in the area that will be directly affected by the proposed Memory Care and Assisted Living Residence, I want to add my voice. First, my neighbors and I are not opposed to construction on the lot running along Genevieve (on the north side), Marine View (on the east side) and the freeway (on the west side, but we are opposed to a 99-bed facility on such a small lot. We are not “NIMBYs” as we have been described by a proponent of Measure B.

We would welcome a smaller, scaled-down version of the proposed 99-bed facility or why not small, low-income housing units. Solana Beach is growing — we get that. But, in this case, I believe, the words “growth and prosperity” (used by a proponent of Measure B) primarily mean “growth and prosperity” for the developer—and the City of Solana Beach, too. I do not believe the welfare and wellbeing of senior citizens is a priority for the developer or the city. It is all about making money for them. If they really care about seniors, why would they put them so close to the freeway.

I ask all of the residents of Solana Beach to drive — and walk — along Marine View and Genevieve and ask yourselves if you lived here, would you want a 99-bed facility on a small lot, and the traffic it will generate, in your neighborhood?

Cathryn Bolt

Del Mar

Voter considerations on proposed Solana Beach Senior Care Facility

From my many years serving on both the Solana Beach City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, I learned that making land use decisions is tough.

When 62 percent of voters approved Proposition T in 2000, it gave all voters in Solana Beach a voice in making changes to land uses. This means that a majority of voters will have to support the direction for land use changes proposed within the city.

From my many conversations with residents and from attending two community forums, I think most of us can agree that quality, safe senior care is strongly needed in Solana Beach due to the increasing number of seniors in the coming decades. We also have limited undeveloped parcels of land.

Currently, voters are being asked to vote yes or no on changing the land use for a 2-plus-acre parcel east of I-5 that has been vacant for years and has been an eyesore on our community. If passed, this vote will allow a local developer to propose to the city council a senior care facility for a site that provides a perfect transition between pure residential and pure commercial zoning, at the edge of a single family home residential neighborhood (not in it). Like the Timbers Building next door, this proposed project would also provide a good buffer to the noise of the freeway.

Should the proposed project advance to the City Council, the City of Solana Beach engineers will require the developer to make necessary changes to the two roads leading into the facility (Marine View and Genevieve) to ensure safety of new seniors, staff, and existing neighborhood residents, as they do for any new development.

There are always some who oppose new development. A few neighbors say they really like the proposed facility, just not in their neighborhood. I would point out that Prop T says that a vote of the people would not be required to change zoning in order to meet state mandates, such as low income affordable apartments. Thus, if this vote fails, a developer could propose a project to the city council without a public vote and the project could be much more intrusive on the neighborhood.

I hope voters will consider all the facts on this proposal and understand that Prop T was implemented to allow all (not just those in the immediate neighborhood) city voters to decide (with the entire process funded by the developer per law) on major land use changes. I think then they will agree that this project offers many enhancements (sound barrier, quality care, road improvements, increased tax revenue, jobs) for Solana Beach and can be conditioned by the city council to mitigate any local neighbors’ concerns.

Hon. Dave Roberts

San Diego County Board of Supervisors, Third District (Ret.)

May 2 issue:

School design should serve as a lesson to be more involved

With regard to the unfortunate look of the recently completed Skyline School, many of us in the community were aghast at the finished product. The building is so completely out of character with our laid-back, beachy community, we must all wonder how this passed the design review process. The school looks more like penitentiary than a middle school. To state that the exterior of the building is uninviting would be a major understatement. I will admit that I have not been inside the building and it may be perfectly functional, however, our awesome City deserved better with regard to the exterior design of the school.

Hopefully the Skyline school will serve as a lesson for the community to be more involved in the design process and this appears to be the case with the Solana Vista Elementary School as the preliminary design of Solana Vista appears much more inviting. Let us all remember that this is our community and the only way to affect change is to be involved in the process. We should all take heed to the old saying “be the change you want to see in the world,” and in this case, our community of Solana Beach.

Dave Dilday

Solana Beach

The wrong project in the wrong place

There is a reason why virtually every environmental organization, both adjacent planning boards, and community groups from all over the City packed Planning Commission chambers to oppose a re-zone of land surrounded on three sides by Del Mar Mesa Preserve.

Publicly owned Del Mar Mesa Preserve is a beloved 900-acre City open space park, south of SR56, enjoyed by naturalists, equestrians, trail bikers and hikers. The mood in the chambers was one of alarm.

The proposed 450,000-square-foot steel and glass office complex will destroy an area created by a vote of the people in 1986, a ballot measure that never contemplated this kind of over-use. Visualize One Paseo, minus the retail, on half the acreage, in a habitat preserve setting.

The City Council should not betray the voters by approving this Community Plan Amendment. Simply put: it’s the wrong project in the wrong place.

Lisa Ross

POPs: Protect Our Preserves San Diego

May 16 issue:

Kudos to proposed rail-oriented transportation plan

My congratulations to SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata for showing some real vision and leadership for proposing a rail-oriented transportation plan for San Diego County. His plan to re-visit the priorities initially envisioned by the TransNet tax initiative over 15 years ago is absolutely the right thing to do. Fifteen years ago, our county transportation landscape was much different and for some people to suggest that we should still tie ourselves to the old roads and highways strategy is a myopic view of a county that has changed dramatically.

In 2004 when we extended the TransNet tax for 40 years, there were no Ubers, Lyfts or bike and scooter share schemes. Commuting habits and patterns have also changed. While it is true that our roads and highways are getting more and more congested, recent case studies have concluded that expanding freeways results in more congestion and significantly increases greenhouse gas emissions. You only have to look at the results of the 405 expansion in the L.A. area where travel times are longer after they spent $10B in widening the Sepulveda Pass or read the 2015 policy brief from the National Center for Sustainable Transportation to get the real truth on freeway widening/expansion which has the affect of increasing and not decreasing highway congestion.

It’s disheartening that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted (3-2) not to endorse the visionary SANDAG plan and thus tie the county to an outdated plan that will only increase congestion and pollution. It’s time for the Board of Supervisors to take a more strategic, long-term view of how our TransNet taxes are spent. Please listen to the experts and do not politicize this much-needed change to our regional transportation plan.

Stephen Shewmaker

Carmel Valley

May 23 issue:A lot to be said for the ‘old green’ heritageGordon Clanton, an astute long-time observer of Del Mar politics, got it exactly right in his May 2 editorial. He knows a power grab when he sees one: an attempt by two councilmembers to prevent the re-appointment of Tim Haviland, an experienced Design Review Board member, despite public testimony and support from a wide range of citizens. No other candidate came close to his DRB knowledge, and none had any public testimony on their behalf. Yet Mayor Druker and Terry Gaasterland bloc-voted to prevent the Haviland appointment, suggesting in the process that it was improper for Councilmember Ellie Haviland to serve concurrently on council with Tim Haviland on DRB. However, it became clear that their reason had more to do with their wish to remove Mr. Haviland from the DRB. Was it because of his strong and principled performance on the board, standing up for the Community Plan and the strict DROs that have provided an effective framework for Del Mar development for decades? It’s no secret that big-money interests, developers, real estate mavens, and proponents for expanded short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods would love to see those rules loosened.The Druker-Gaasterland red herring was so-called “conflict of interest”: their demand that no spouses should serve concurrently in Del Mar. In point of fact, the Brown Act already binds all city volunteers, and it is insulting to suggest that married individuals don’t have minds and opinions of their own and would always recuse if necessary. The City Attorney ruled there was no conflict of interest. (On her own accord and to ensure no hint of conflict, Ellie Haviland did recuse from the vote; with the Druker-Gaasterland bloc, the 2-2 tie meant there was no appointment and applications reopened.)Clanton aptly referenced Druker’s term, “old greens,” pejoratively describing Del Mar citizens active in town since the 1960s and still working on behalf of sensible development controls and environmentalism. He annotated “terrible” things they have done, e.g., blocking the I-5 freeway from running through town; stopping condos from moving into Crest Canyon, protecting precious landscapes. The “old greens” created the Community Plan in 1976, “Del Mar’s roadmap, its land-use constitution,” and protected Del Mar’s unique beauty and character which, not coincidentally, has resulted in some of the highest property values in the West. “Old green” community leaders have moved our town forward in so many ways. They also supported Druker in three runs for City Council, and during his most recent campaign, he and Ms. Gaasterland pledged to uphold positions of the very same “old greens.” In fact, most in town would have called Druker himself an “old green.” But now that he is in office, he seems to have changed his hue.I hope that on reflection, these two councilmembers can see that there’s a lot to be said for the “old green” heritage that came before them.Anne FarrellDel Mar