Letters/Opinion: May, June 2019

June 13 issue:

Wrongheaded conflict of interest policy

Del Mar City Council member Dwight Worden, once again with Ellie Haviland and Sherryl Parks (the Gang of Three), were the three that railed against Mayor Dave Druker for bringing the conflict of interest issue to the city council last March for discussion. The three argued that Dave was wrong to do so and that a conflict of interest policy was not needed nor appropriate.

Now, Worden and his two followers have changed their minds and say a policy is necessary. What is going on? Worden and Haviland have now created their own conflict of interest proposal and have brought it to the council for debate, knowing they have the three votes to pass it. Sherryl Parks will provide the third vote because she looks to Dwight for guidance on every issue.

Their proposal continues to allow spouses of council members to serve on the quasi-judicial Design Review Board and Planning Commission while they are seated on the Del Mar City Council. This is a wrongheaded policy and we, as a community, should revolt against the stupidity of their proposal and not let it happen. Just the “appearance of a conflict” should not be allowed. Dave Druker and Terry Gaasterland are against their policy and will argue vociferously against its implementation at the next city council meeting on June 17.

We reside in a very small town and this proposal, if passed, will only serve to further divide our community.

Hershell Price

Del Mar resident

In support of the horses I love

Horse racing in California has been getting the worst press possible. I have been involved and loved horse racing since I was 15 years old and while the industry has changed since then, there are major changes being made to improve the sport and safety of horses. California can’t afford to lose an industry. The people calling for horse racing to stop in California have other agendas and don’t really care about the animals. They want your vote and your money. Nobody cares more for the horses than the people who work with them. Having owned horses all my life, race horses too, they get hurt just being in their stalls.

While the number of deaths were high at Santa Anita it has been determined part of the cause was the rain and sealing of the race track. Do you really think the world is better without the thoroughbreds? I couldn’t even imagine how awful that would be. Thoroughbreds are magnificent intelligent horses. Stop harassing the racing industry. All you politicians please start paying attention to homelessness, drug addicts, PTSD sufferers, our economy and jobs, more important issues in the world. Don’t throw away an entire industry of which you know nothing about.

Marla Zanelli


June 6 issue:

New trolley line should be extended

We need to tell MTS and the City of San Diego that they should have extended the new trolley line not just to UCSD at first shot but to Via de La Valle and the horse farm+fair parking+polo fields. That would make a huge reduction in traffic for soccer, polo, gun shows, horse shows and the fair. But they wouldn’t have done it because they want congestion to increase. They claim funding problems, but they should investigate how San Francisco extended BART all the way out to San Ramon (60 miles) way before population built up there and along the way. Where did they get the money? You build light rail way before the population builds up, not afterwards.

John Fiscella

Carmel Valley

Del Mar: Continue to keep ‘Greenery in the Scenery’

Del Mar enjoys a legacy of civic and environmental activism that started in the 1930s with the Del Mar Civic Association (DMCA).

Throughout the 1950s the DMCA successfully fought to move Interstate 5 from its originally planned route along what is now Camino Del Mar and Coast Blvd. to its present inland location, which was finalized in 1957 and completed in 1966. It helped that the California Highway Commission Board included DMCA member C. Arnholt Smith, a North Beach homeowner, and Roger Woolley, brother of Del Mar’s Basil “Monty” Woolley, who also lived in the North Beach area which would have been paved over.

After the DMCA spearheaded the incorporation of the City of Del Mar in 1959, DMCA president and five-time Del Mar Mayor Tom Pearson later led the drive to ban roadside billboards and create Seagrove Park and the North Bluff Scripps Preserve through the City’s acquisition of these properties in a private and public fundraising drive to block proposed development.

Contributing to the fundraising campaign of “Keep Greenery in the Scenery” were North Beach homeowners Jim Scripps, Helen Woodward and the Fletcher family as well as “Stars for Parks” Desi Arnaz and Jimmy Durante, who originally fell in love with Del Mar as vacation renters and patrons of the racetrack. Thankfully, Seagrove was later expanded and adjacent Powerhouse Park was created with its acquisition including the historic Powerhouse which was restored as a community center.

Continuing this legacy in 2006-8, more than 400 donors contributed $5.5 million, including $3 million from the nonprofit Winston School, to fund the City’s acquisition of the 5.3-acre former Shores School property which contained the only school and playing fields in Del Mar.

However, we are dismayed by reports from the Winston School that during closed-door lease negotiations, the City of Del Mar proposed that Winston develop multi-family housing on the Shores site. This violates Del Mar’s Community Plan, the Kerckhoff deed restriction that the site can be used for “school purposes only” and the City’s representations made to donors contributing $5.5 million to buy the property.

We urge the Del Mar City Council to uphold our Community Plan, the Kerckhoff deed restriction and commitments made to donors that enabled us to save this 30-year old school for bright children with learning differences and to make the largest acquisition of park land for active recreational use in the history of Del Mar.

Let’s continue to keep “Greenery in the Scenery.”

Laura DeMarco

Vice President, Friends of Del Mar Parks

Shores Park donor and fundraiser who moved to Del Mar in 1987

Adam Cherry

President, Big Blue Sky Foundation

Shores Park neighbor and donor who moved to Del Mar in 1977

Carl Hilliard

Former Del Mar Mayor and City Council Member

Shores Park donor whose grandparents moved to Del Mar in the 1920s

Kim Fletcher

Board Member, Fletcher Family Foundation

Shores Park donor whose grandfather developed Del Mar in the early 1900s

Kudos to Del Mar City Council for making sand replenishment a priority

In June the Del Mar City Council will vote to approve budgets for fiscal years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.

We applaud the City Council for making sand replenishment a priority by funding Sand Compatibility and Opportunistic Use Program (SCOUP) sand replenishment permits. The City is dedicating $164,200 and $164,400, respectively, for sand replenishment in each of the next two fiscal years.

We encourage our elected officials to make this an ongoing commitment and not just a one-time occurrence, however.

Coastal sediment management long has been neglected in Del Mar, but our residents have voiced their concerns strongly. We have emphasized the importance of protecting and preserving our beaches and coastal community. Our message appears to be making a difference.

Our beautiful beach is an integral part of our community character. We treasure this natural resource and want to work together to maintain and enhance it.

Thanks to all of our neighbors who are working hard to make a difference!

Jerry Jacobs


Del Mar Beach Preservation Coalition

One View: Early start for political season

By Gordon Clanton

Ready or not, the race for 2020 has begun – at every level of government. Pay attention early so you can choose early and support your favorites.

March primary. This cycle is different in that the state primary, usually in June, has been moved up to March, bringing extra urgency to every campaign. So although filing doesn’t open until December, serious local candidates have been campaigning since the first of the year. And asking for money.

The early primary will increase California’s influence on the choice of presidential candidates. All of the Democratic candidates for 2020 will come to California this time. Too many to list. Get ready for the invasion.

Here are some key local races I’m watching.

Supervisor, D-3. The Third District includes the coast from La Jolla to Encinitas plus much of the I-15 corridor. The Republican incumbent Kristin Gaspar is a strong supporter of President Trump’s immigration policies. Elected in 2016, she ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2018, seeking the seat now held by Democrat Mike Levin and finishing sixth of 16 candidates.

Gaspar has drawn three Democratic challengers. Terra Lawson-Remer was a founder of Flip the 49th, a campaign to replace Darrell Issa. Olga Diaz serves on the Escondido City Council. Fire Captain Jeff Griffith is a spoiler. He cannot win but he can divert attention and resources from Terra and Olga.

Olga carries the further burden of having cast the swing vote in 2016 to remove the environmentally sensitive and beloved head of the Coastal Commission Charles Lester.

Because of demographic shifts, whichever Democrat survives the March primary will have a good chance in November 2020. And because of term limits, the Board of Supervisors may have a Democratic majority after 2020.

49th Congressional. A newly elected member of Congress typically is most vulnerable in the first bid for re-election. Republicans who want to replace first-term Democrat Mike Levin have unified behind the mayor of San Juan Capistrano, Brian Maryott, an unsuccessful candidate for the seat in 2018. He finished eighth in a 16-candidate field, fourth among the eight Republicans. Republicans outnumber Democrats by only 12,000. And Hillary Clinton carried the district in 2016.

78th Assembly. The district reaches from Solana Beach to Imperial Beach and east to SDSU. San Diego City Councilman Chris Ward is seeking to replace Assemblyman Todd Gloria, who is running for mayor against San Diego Councilwoman Barbara Bry.

— Gordon Clanton teaches sociology at San Diego State University. He welcomes comments at

May 30 issue:

Diverse voice and broadened field of community participation important for Del Mar

Diverse voice and broadened field of community participation important for Del Mar
In Anne Farrell’s May 23 letter to the editor, she characterized Mayor Druker and Councilwoman Gaasterland’s proposal for a conflict of interest policy as a “power grab.” However, it is clear that the Druker/Gaasterland proposal is anything but a power grab. While Farrell seems to be disappointed that Druker and Gaasterland broke the pledge they made to a small group of the “old greens” (now incarnated as the Del Mar Alliance), I applaud them for being sensible and not blindly following and for instead acting in the interests of the majority of Del Mar.

For the first time since our incorporation, Del Mar had the spouse of a sitting council member before council for re-appointment to the DRB. This created the appearance of a “conflict of interest” and raised the question of whether or not we should have a policy in place. The real “power grab” would have bloomed in 2020, where then-Mayor Ellie Haviland would control city council, and Chair Tim Haviland would control the DRB. This would provide a concentration of power at a time when numerous large projects are coming forward all requiring up-zoning to higher density as potentially desired by the Del Mar Alliance.

There were five well-qualified DRB applicants, including Tim Haviland, the spouse of Deputy Mayor Haviland. Many people spoke in support of Tim Haviland, but Farrell failed to mention that substantially more Del Mar residents took the time previously to write 52 letters favoring prohibition of a spouse serving on the DRB. Tim Haviland has done a fine job on the DRB, and can serve again when his wife’s service on the city council is complete.

In my 46 years of living in Del Mar, I have never witnessed such a transparent power grab as by the current council majority, the “troika” of Haviland, Worden and Parks. They, and the Del Mar Alliance they answer to, have ruled this community in a calculated and often mean-spirited exclusion of any alternative voice that attempts to participate. It was unnerving how the troika and the Del Mar Alliance supporters degraded and belittled Gaasterland and Druker for proposing even a discussion of a conflict of interest policy. While I have not agreed with many of Mayor Druker’s past positions, his last election platform — “Citizen’s First” — was appealing. It was the first time I felt that any council member was willing to listen to my voice! With their actions under this pressure, I can see why Druker and Gaasterland received the highest number of votes in the past two elections.

Del Mar is a very smart, talented and engaged community that only a diverse voice and broadened field of community participation will improve.

Terri Pavelko

Member of original taskforce which created our Community Plan

Diversity of community viewpoints needed

In “A lot to be said for ‘old green’ heritage” (Del Mar Times, May 23) Anne Farrell denounces both some members of the city council and numerous Del Mar citizens for their preference for a policy that would bar the significant others of council members from serving on key city committees.

Her criticism of such anti-nepotism rule misses the basic purpose that such policy would advance. Contrary to Ms. Farrell’s assertion, the issue is not whether Mr. Haviland would be an effective member of the Design and Review Board member and advance the “old green heritage.” Many of us that favor this anti-nepotism policy would concede that Mr. Haviland might ably serve on such committee.

Opposition to the Haviland appointment while Ms. Haviland sits on the city council stems from the public’s interest in achieving a diversity of perspectives and avoiding a concentration of power in city government. The concentration of authority among closely affiliated groups such as members of the same family is against the public interest in that it concentrates authority in a few and crowds out needed diversity of community viewpoints. This and other considerations such as the avoidance of self-dealing among discreet community groups underlie long-standing prohibitions against having connected persons crowd out diverse policies in government operations.

Ralph Reisner

Del Mar

May 23 issue:

A lot to be said for the ‘old green’ heritage

Gordon 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 CouncilmemberEllie 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 Farrell

Del Mar