Letters/Opinion: August, September, October 2019


August 1 issue:

Climate change is natural

Sure, there is climate change, but it is natural and not due to any human intervention like China, India, or USA atmospheric effluents. Rep. Scott Peters is using this topic as a political football, cow-towing to Democrats as part of his re-election campaign. San Diegans should be smart enough to realize this. If he really wants to reduce effluents (like CO2) he should be campaigning for the resumption of nuclear power in California and bringing San Onofre back up to produce power.

John Fiscella
Carmel Valley

August 8 issue:

The fear that now pervades our lives

I look forward to Instagram postings from my niece Allison who lives on the east coast with her husband and two toddler sons. Usually the posts are photos of two darling boys playing, eating or napping. Today’s post from young mother Allison was different:

“I usually refrain from posting a lot of political stuff on social media because who really cares what I have to say, right?

“But last night I lay awake trying to think of things to do with Sam and Theo the next day and was coming up blank...

“...not because of a lack of things to do around here, but because everything I could think of doing scared me...

“...because all I could think about was where we would go/what we would do if shooting broke out.

“This should not be something that keeps any mother up at night. We should not be scared to go out in crowded public places for fear of being shot.

“I’d say I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s tougher gun laws. Simple as that. If you’re a responsible gun owner, you shouldn’t be worried. The only ones that should worry that their guns will be taken away are the ones who shouldn’t have guns in the first place.

“I’m meeting with Sam’s preschool administrator to drop off his registration packet this week and plan to ask her a question I never thought I’d have to ask about my son’s preschool: “What is your plan in the event of an active shooter situation?”

“But I’m skeptical that any change will be made because if a bunch of first graders getting slaughtered in their classroom 6 years ago didn’t change anything, what will?

“Rant over. For now.”

(I think that Allison’s post says it all, and I have nothing to add. This speaks to the fear that pervades our lives when guns outnumber American citizens.)

Jill Cooper

Solana Beach

Strong need to address speeding, reckless driving

What can we do about speeding, reckless and distracted driving in Carmel Valley? Just today I was driving down Del Mar Heights Rd. and a white BMW came by me at 90+ mph. This isn’t the first time this has happened — everyday I see it on Carmel Valley Rd., El Camino Real, the 56 and, of course, the freeway. At 7 a.m. the other morning when I was walking my dog, within 5 minutes I saw 2 cars run a red light, 1 person distracted on their phone, and 2 people roll through a stop sign. Rarely do I see these drivers get pulled over by law enforcement.

School will be starting soon and there will be more young drivers, cyclists and pedestrians out on the road. Which means more opportunity for crashes, injuries and deaths.

We must be able to do something to stop these dangerous drivers in our neighborhood, however, I’m not sure what the answer is. I’d love to hear your ideas. I think it is getting worse not better and I fear for my life every time I get on the road. I am going to ask the Carmel Valley Planning board to put this on their agenda and I hope you will attend the meeting with your thoughts.

Andrea Mintz

A very concerned citizen

Kudos to those who are sounding the alarm on climate change

Regarding your article of July 26, 2019 “Rep. Scott Peters pledges town hall on climate crisis.” I want to thank members of the Sunrise Movement and 350.org for waking up the public, in particular the youth, to the threat of climate change. We cannot solve it if we don’t talk about it.

I want to thank Representative Scott Peters for co-sponsoring the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, for joining the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives, and for creating a Climate Playbook demonstrating the ways in which Congress is moving, albeit too slowly, to tackle this existential crisis. I want to thank Representative Peters for working to form bipartisan coalitions so that any legislation that is passed will be durable and outlast the whims of each different Congress.

When it comes to our changing climate, we need bold action and we need incrementalism. We need the left to sound the alarm and push for grand change. We need the middle to bring more and more conservatives on board. We need everyone rowing in the same direction. I hope we can learn to appreciate the value of all approaches. Because if we lose this battle due to infighting, we will have lost the battle for all future generations.

PS — Due to scheduling conflicts with the Democratic debates, the town hall on the climate crisis ended up being cancelled.

Judy Berlfein


The Del Mar Resort with a new name

The Del Mar Resort Plan by Zephyr that received such effective widespread opposition in Del Mar and Solana Beach, forcing Zephyr to withdraw its clumsy plan in 2018, has now resurfaced in new marketing clothes: Marisol. Clearly the old plan and name was so badly tarnished and disliked that it had to be binned for good.

Zephyr now wants Marisol on the Del Mar March 2020 ballot, yet there is no concrete detail or information at all available on what this reimagined “Low Density Retreat…. Enriching the Coastal Environment” really means, so residents who are being asked to sign the ballot petition starting this month, will be doing so in total ignorance of what they are supporting and agreeing to.

Only marketing hype exists on the Zephyr website, questions submitted to Zephyr are not being responded to.

Going to the ballot is a great idea for Zephyr because historically property developments that threaten preserves through over use and density, which will consume those few remaining pieces of coastal bluffs for good, will always be defeated easily by the residents and businesses who really care about their communities and what is left behind for our future generations.

Hugh Cree

Del Mar

August 15 issue:

Yes to strong need to address speeding, reckless driving in Carmel Valley

Thank you to Ms. Mintz for sounding off the alarm bells in her letter last week to a problem that is getting only worse in Carmel Valley. I too have noticed increased numbers of drivers speeding and running through red lights. I can count on one hand the number of drivers I’ve seen in the past month who have sped down Del Mar Heights road and driven through a red light at the intersection of Del Mar Heights road and Lansdale.

I have seen a similar scenario at the intersection of Del Mar Heights Road and Carmel Valley Road where so many cars make a left turn on a red light, again close to a busy high school. Sadly, it is becoming a daily occurrence. We should not be scared to walk or drive in our town with fear that we will be run over by a distracted or reckless driver. I wholeheartedly agree that this topic needs to be addressed as soon as possible to the Carmel Valley planning board, ideally in the presence of our local police officers and officials to see what can be done. All concerned, please show up!

Saha Sadeghi

Equally concerned citizen

Cisterra Del Mar Mesa Preserve: One Paseo nightmare all over again

Last week’s City Council vote to approve the massive Cisterra Project intruding into Del Mar Mesa Preserve is another example of its deafness to environmental and community wishes — and a reminder of the bi-partisan One Paseo sell-out to developer and downtown interests.

And just like that debacle, this project should now go to the voters who will certainly dump it.

In contrast to Councilmember Pro Tem Barbara Bry who stood up for Carmel Valley in the One Paseo controversy and now against Cisterra, Councilmembers Kersey and Cate violated the will of their districts, voting to approve a project that will forever mar Del Mar Mesa Preserve.

Kersey and Cate who represent the Rancho Penasquitos and Torrey Highlands communities used as their rationale that their constituencies would prefer a massive office complex to the current zoning. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Under current zoning, any project requires a CUP (Conditional Use Permit) and could require development to fit with the surrounding preserve. Those uses already include a church, equestrian facility or even a nature center.

The most outrageous stab in the back came from previously environmentally endorsed Councilmembers Chris Ward and Jen Campbell, who have apparently hooked their careers on the developer band wagon. Et tu, Brutes.

The second reading that will verify that sad City Council vote is on September 9. We ask that all who love Del Mar Mesa Preserve write their city council members to reconsider their vote.

Kathryn Burton

August 22 issue:

Understanding LGBTQ issues

I would like to thank Marsha Sutton for her “Understanding LGBTQ issues” column (Aug. 15, 2019). As a clinical psychologist who works extensively with the transgender community, it is more vital than ever that we educate parents, teachers, medical providers and the community at large about this too often overlooked population. It is alarming to me how the Trump administration has targeted this group, which are often the victims themselves of bigotry, discrimination and violence. Most of this prejudice comes simply from the lack of education and awareness of transgender persons. Education and compassion are the means to overcome ignorance and hatred.

By the way, to those who say they have never met a transgender person, most would be surprised to learn that they have and have simply been unaware. Kudos to Ms. Sutton for her informative column. To those seeking ways to support the transgender community, contact the Transgender Law Center (info@transgender lawcenter.org).

Dr. Christine Calix

Carmel Valley

Zephyr’s Propaganda Machine heads south

As a Solana Beach resident, I’m familiar with Zephyr’s habit of “stacking the deck” with speakers at city council meetings, so I was unmoved by the “parade and charade” they recently conducted in Del Mar. No fewer than four Zephyr executives repeated the talking points of “three years of compromise and transparency”, the “smaller footprint”, and “opening up the bluff” which, ironically, has been open this whole time.

Glossed over were a few inconvenient facts: 1) It’s still 253 rooms of “boutique hotel”! 2) The buildings still climb to about 50 feet including the rooftop solar panels and HVAC equipment, 3) The pervasive reflection of sun-glare these towering glass walls will bounce back into the eyes of beach walkers, surfers, and dog beach users, 4) The four bluff-side, premium location Executive Villas that will provide year-round occupancy to a few privileged “gazillionaires” that Zephyr claims to be protecting us from, and 5) If and when the developer will provide the “transparency” of story poles so citizens can make informed conclusions.

Also left unattended was the logic-lunacy of adding thousands of tons of concrete and water on top of a sandstone bluff while simultaneously digging an underground parking garage, all within a few miles of the recent bluff failures from Del Mar to Leucadia. Ironically, this is all proposed to take shape just down the beach from extensive bluff stabilization work commencing next month ... in Del Mar!

New to the Propaganda Machine is the age-old marketing strategy: the celebrity endorsement. I often wonder if celebrities really use the products they sell or if there is another incentive provided for the use of their name. I doubt that money would be an incentive, as Hall of Fame careers usually provide multi-generational wealth. Perhaps it’s the vague and still undefined “sand replenishment endowment program” the developers have alluded to, or maybe this new spokesman is privy to information we regular folks just haven’t seen yet. Maybe he has seen little things like Traffic Studies, Environmental Impact Reports, Coastal Commission Geological Studies, CEQA requirements and adherences, and the not-yet-publicly-elucidated Tax Revenues Estimates that will add to the Del Mar city coffers. If he has insights to share on any of these topics, perhaps he can enlighten the rest of us, because Zephyr sure hasn’t. They just want people to sign an initiative - blindly - and put it on the ballot.

I hope before signing the petition to put this initiative on the ballot, responsible Del Mar voters will demand specifics to fill these information-gaps and pressure the developer to put up the story poles! Otherwise, Del Mar’s citizens risk being left under-informed by Zephyr ... and outvoted by a few celebrity star-gazers!

Steve Saunders

Solana Beach

Chernobyl in the Del Mar Village

Yes! Chernobyl is the best word to describe the Streetscape debacle. Just how could this project have gotten so far out of hand?

The city manager and the city council certainly know from past experience of multiple repairs in that Camino Del Mar arterie what they were up against.

The final approval for Streetscape by the city council was on Oct 29, 2018. Work was supposed to begin in January and then finish in June. Now here we are late August with no end in sight.

Why would the city consider such an aggressive timeline that even without any delays would have finished during the Fair, at height of summer? They foolishly began ripping up the street before they even had the necessary easements from the property owners in hand. Those easements should have been hammered out before they began their work, not after. Also, in the past, any city construction or street work has always been scheduled to begin at the end of summer and after the Del Mar horse racing season to minimize the impact to our downtown businesses during the peak season. Del Mar is a summer tourist destination, where the businesses rely heavily on their summer income to carry them through the fall.

Yes, this is their peak period and this construction is killing them. It has been impossible for shoppers, restaurant patrons, medical customers, real estate people, etc. to park to get to their desired destinations. I have spoken to many of the shop owners and they have said “ Yes, it’s a joke! All the signs say “ BUSINESS OPEN” but just try to get to us!!” Aside from that its a circus out there. None of our city workers are out there. Nobody with flags helping traffic. It’s Mad Max revisited! Sheriffs remain on duty chasing down usual suspects, but no organized traffic control at all.

To have ripped up the street in some areas , not just one time, but two-three times. Unforgivable! Merchants were struggling already and barely a thread from upcoming development of the former Bully’s restaurant?

Revitalizing downtown with a new Streetscape has been studied and discussed for decades, so why the rush to begin at the wrong time of year? This wasn’t an Act of God that happened and they had to jump to repair it ( like the Jimmy Durante hill-slide).

Finally the city has posted signs all over boasting about using our Prop Q tax dollars. How about a follow up posting how much of our Prop Q funds has been spent and how much over budget to this point?

Deborah LoGiurato

Del Mar

August 29 issue:

Zephyr propoganda

The propaganda Zephyr is using to try to get their way in constructing commercial buildings on top of the Del Mar Bluff adjacent to the Scripps Preserve (bought by the way by James Scripps and Helen Woodward to protect this iconic piece of coastal property from commercial development) is laughable at best.

All I have been reading about or listening to from Zephyr’s interviews with the media is about how they “listened” to the community and have now designed a “scaled back version.”


Did they tell the public that the footprint and density of the project remains almost unchanged? Did they tell the public of the 47-foot (plus HVAC equipment on top) condo towers they plan to construct which will obliterate views? Oh, and where are the studies that will show what the addition of tons of concrete on top of the fragile sandstone will do to the stability of the bluff? Also, what will excavating a major portion the the bluff (tons and tons of dirt and sandstone) so they can put in an underground garage do to the stability of the bluff?

The “smoke and mirrors” charade they are putting on in my opinion will not fool the voters in Del Mar.

Del Martians live in their beautiful city for its ambiance from the bluff and Dog Beach on its northern border to the southern border that looks out to the famous Torrey Pines Preserve.

Should the voters in Del Mar sacrifice either? I say “no.”

Jan Shields

Solana Beach

Vote on resort project should not be rushed

One of the most precious and environmentally sensitive parcels of open space (which is now privately owned) in our region is in the midst of a controversial Citizen’s Initiative vote in the upcoming months. These parcels of land, on Del Mar’s North Bluff, are proposed by the Zephyr Group, to become a huge resort hotel complex.

This bluff lies in a natural extension of the San Dieguito River Valley, and gives one a stunning view overlooking the San Dieguito Lagoon, which joins the San Dieguito River as they flow into the Pacific Ocean. As you look far to the east, this watershed spans five precious eco-systems originating at Volcan Mountain near Julian. This entire area, still rich in both wildlife and plant sources, was once the homeland of the ancestral Kumeyaay people of this region.

With those thoughts in mind, I can’t ever remember so many important environmental and public health dilemmas going on at one time in our town and region.

As climate and weather changes in our region become apparent, we need to be prepared and have a plan. Experts are now linking stormy wave surges and heavy frequent downpours to our many major coastal cliff failures. The rate of sea level rise and storm surge predictions by oceanographers keep changing for the worse.

There are so many critical issues facing our town and region now, including multiple cliff failures, long- term planning on where and how to move the train tracks, the reconstruction on the 101/San Dieguito Lagoon bridge, how our town may play a role in the gun shows at the Fairgrounds, and continuous monitoring of the San Onofre nuclear waste radiation threats, just to name a few. Why does such a contentious issue as this bluff top resort development need to be pushed through at this time for a vote, when we have not been presented with any specific details in a Specific Plan or an Environmental Impact Report? We should not vote on a project for which the details are missing and have not been reviewed thoroughly by those who have been appointed for their knowledge about Del Mar’s Community Plan as well as our codes, and are elected to represent us. This project is slated for one of the most sensitive precious areas of beachfront open space remaining in our region.

We need to have plenty of time and expert advice to make decisions on how that piece of land is used in a sustainable way and how it will comply with our Climate Action Plan for now and for many years to come.

Why do we need to rush through a vote on the resort project while we have so many important decisions facing us?

Carol Kerridge

Del Mar

Just what Solana Beach doesn’t need

Bikes in your front yard, on the beach, blocking the sidewalk, filling all the bike racks and making our downtown area look terrible. All this to allow folks who may be too lazy to walk the one mile stretch of sidewalk from one end of town to the other. The bike share company “Gotcha” was certainly yelling “GOTCHA” when they got approved by our gullible City Council.

The “City approved” bike share program for Solana Beach is going to dump 100 electric bikes primarily along coast highway. How have these programs worked in other San Diego communities? Coronado banned them totally, Pacific Beach and other small communities have all had terrible experiences with ride share bikes.

With what we all pay for our homes in this town, I don’t think we deserve to be treated like downtown San Diego with bikes scattered everywhere. 100 bikes is one every 40 feet from one end of town to the other. The promoter, “Gotcha” bike share, has proposed corals to park their bikes in after a renter is done with it. They say that will eliminate bikes being left around town. The problem is that there is only a $5 charge if you don’t return it to their “coral” and say leave it in front of your hotel, at the beach or on someone’s front yard. Gotcha is hoping folks do that as they get their bikes distributed around town and they get an additional $5 per rental.

This program is going to be a disaster for the citizens of Solana Beach and its four local bike shops who have supported Solana Beach cyclists for years and who also rent electric bikes. Every time you have to climb over one of these bikes remember the name “Gotcha” because gotcha they did.

This experiment by our City Council is going to be a disaster for not only the residents of Solana Beach but also the businesses along Coast Highway. Not to mention the safety problems the bikes create. Renting electric bikes with no instruction or helmets, riding on sidewalks, and riding impaired on busy streets and on the beach at all hours. This program is an environmental nightmare, bad for local business and residents. Residents and visitors to Solana Beach have plenty of bike rental options from the 4 bike shops within a few blocks of Lomas and Coast Highway.

Let your city councilperson know that you don’t want, nor does Solana Beach need, this program that has failed in almost every community it has been introduced into.

Doug Lord

Pedego Bike Shop Solana Beach

What to expect? See current project

I live next door to the Zephyr construction site at 516 Stratford Ct. I would advise anyone on the fence about approving the proposed development in Solana Beach to come take a look at these ridiculously huge houses that after 2 years are still not complete.

I have lived in Del Mar for 10 years and have seen a lot of new construction on Stratford Ct. and on the side streets. Nothing has taken this long. Living next to this construction site has been terrible. My home is covered with sand and dust every day.

In June I inquired when these homes would be complete. I was told the home on the north side would be done at the end of July. It is the end of August with no completion in sight.

I can’t prove it because I do not have pictures of the original story poles but I am convinced the home on the south side is taller than the poles indicated.

Instead of preserving any green space, foliage or trees they decided to build 2 gigantic houses that are so close together that I hope these neighbors really like each other.

I have seen a lot of negativity surrounding the Solana Beach development. This project should give you an idea of what to expect.

Anita Knight,

Del Mar

Sept. 5 issue:

Still no details on Del Mar bluff Marisol Zephyr Plan

It has been several weeks now since the press conference with Zephyr for the revised Del Mar Resort (Marisol) plan yet there is still a total absence of detail available to review! The Zephyr Marisol website has just 3 illustrations; one showing 46-ft. villas looming over the Scripps Bluff Preserve, exactly the same as with the old, pulled plan.

Where are the real specifics, the details for Del Mar and Solana Beach residents to review for informed judgments; the layout of the development, heights, setbacks etc. Why the deliberate obfuscation, the lack of openness by Zephyr?

Zephyr promotes that Marisol will only have 65 hotel guest rooms, 3l villas, but the ballot document on the Del Mar website reads; “(27 (Villas) of which may be divisible and available for hotel use increasing up to a maximum of 146 hotel guest rooms.” So it’s not 65 guest rooms as Zephyr promotes, it’s really 146 guest rooms!

Zephyr talks about access to the bluff as the main benefit, but a developer is not needed to provide access. Del Mar and Solana Beach and residents need to get together and purchase the property directly and add it to the Bluff Preserve! With bluff erosion rates increasing, allowing development on the very last remaining coastal bluff space we have here is a very bad choice for the future. Marisol needs to be stopped!

Hugh Cree

More understanding needed on the complexities of gun control

It’s unfortunate that some of our lawmakers and young people have very little understanding of the complexities of gun control. Our Constitution, which should be studied in the public schools, contains the 2nd Amendment which guarantees American citizens the right to bear arms for their protection and defense against a tyrannical government.

The Golden State has some of the strictest gun laws and a high percentage of shooting. The current laws on the books need to be enforced. Mental health services through various county and state hospitals along with charitable organizations have to be improved. Families need to be strengthened through groups like Focus on the Family. We need to return to our Reformational roots. Dr. John Lott’s seminal book proves the title, “More Guns, Less Crime.” A leftist professor spent 10 years trying to discredit his statistical analysis and couldn’t.

Mark A. Peter

Solana Beach

One View:

CD 50 plus Del Mar resort update

By Gordon Clanton

Republican Carl DeMaio has joined the high-drama East County race to replace Republican incumbent Duncan Hunter II in the 50th Congressional District. Hunter is under federal indictment for misuse of campaign funds. His trial recently was postponed until January, less than two months before the March primary election.

Former San Diego councilman DeMaio, leader of the unsuccessful 2018 campaign to repeal the gasoline tax, ran unsuccessfully for mayor of San Diego in 2012, losing to Bob Filner, and for Congress in 2014, losing to Scott Peters. Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, who challenged Hunter in 2018, also is in the race. Ammar must now be concerned that he could finish third behind Hunter and DeMaio and not make it to the November run-off. Two other candidates will divide the GOP vote, making it more likely that Ammar will reach the run-off. But Republicans could finish 1-2.

Meanwhile former Republican Congressman Darrell Issa is said to be considering entering this race. Issa withdrew from his 2018 re-election campaign in the 49th CD, the seat won by Democrat Mike Levin.

And it’s only September, folks! Filing for the March 2020 primary begins Nov.11 and ends Dec. 6. Much can happen between now and then.

Del Mar resort. The developers of the proposed resort hotel on the ocean near the west end of Via de la Valle have substantially modified their proposal, reducing the number of rooms from 251 to 65 and the number of condo units from 76 to 31. The tallest structures would be three-story instead of four, clustered to minimize view blockage. The hotel would be about the size of L’Auberge, but on a much larger plot of land.

The new plan also involves opening more of the property to the public, with 1.25 miles of walking trails that would connect to a neighboring coastal reserve. Even the modified plan would require a zoning change that almost certainly would go to a public vote.

Meanwhile the developers are gathering signatures in support of the project, hoping to qualify for the March 2020 primary. So, Del Mar voters: It’s time to do your homework.

Meanwhile, acknowledging complaints about view blockage from so many Solana Beach residents, the project has been renamed Marisol, which combines the names of Del Mar and Solana Beach – so that neither is recognizable. The new moniker sounds like the name of a hair spray or an insecticide.

— Gordon Clanton teaches sociology at San Diego State University. He welcomes comments at gclanton@sdsu.edu.

Sept. 12 issue:

Council member votes against her own City of Del Mar

Hard to believe, but true. This past Friday, Del Mar Councilwoman and our representative to SANDAG, Ellie Haviland, provided the critical swing vote against reducing the number of housing units assigned to Del Mar by SANDAG from 163 down to 73, a reduction of 90 housing units. If she had cast her vote yes instead of no, the housing burden would have been 90 housing units less. What was she thinking? Who would vote against their own city? Especially since we are completely built out. Where will these 163 new houses go? Does she really care?

Oh, I know where? In the North Commercial Zone near the round-about, that’s where. She is anxious to complete the rezone of that area to accommodate new housing. Why not 163 more houses? 73 sure sounds much better than 163 to me.

At the Friday meeting, she sat right next to San Diego Mayor Faulconer and voted with San Diego instead. What could have been her motivation?

Solana Beach Mayor David Zito made the motion to reduce the SANDAG allocation to all of the small cities, but Haviland voted no, against all the small cities too. They must hate us, wouldn’t you?

Lesson learned: When it comes to the interests of Del Mar at SANDAG, we cannot count on Ellie Haviland to protect us from the overreaching city of San Diego, especially when it comes to forcing more housing onto our built-out Del Mar neighborhoods.

Hershell Price

Stunned by vote of councilwoman

I am flabbergasted by the vote of Del Mar Councilwoman Ellie Haviland at the SANDAG meeting on Friday the 6th. Literally, dumbfounded that she would vote against the cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach.

She voted no to reducing the number of housing units allotted to Del Mar in the next housing cycle from 163 down to 73 and for Solana Beach from 875 down to 394. Instead, her vote was the critical swing vote that made the motion fail (9-10). Had she voted yes, Del Mar and Solana Beach would have seen reductions of 90 and 481 respectively.

The Mayor of Solana Beach made brilliant arguments for a small-city adjustment for built-out, dense small towns like Solana Beach and Del Mar. Additionally, Del Mar Councilwoman Terry Gaasterland and Laura DeMarco brought new information and exposed the errors and miscalculations in the housing allocations which should have given even more reason for Haviland to vote for Solana Beach and for Del Mar as she had taken an oath to do. She should have been able to think on her feet with this new information and voting opportunity, but instead she sided with the City of San Diego.

Debbie Church

Del Mar

The point of light for ethnic studies

Re: Education Matters column: Ethnic studies do-over

Ethnic studies for students would be best undertaken at their houses of worship. It is civic education that should concern the State Department of Education, not a curriculum claiming to educate regarding ethnic diversity but which was mysteriously hijacked. Who was responsible for this fiasco?

E Pluribus Unum needs to be the point of light guiding the California State Department of Education. Why not promote understanding and acceptance among our diverse population by studying the contributions of all Americans as Americans, instead of divisively focusing on people as members of groups. A simple reference to a person as a hyphenated American should suffice to remind our students that we may come from many places, but we are all Americans now.

The students’ home environments plays a large role, and schools might reach out to parents with the E Pluribus Unum message. Matter-of-fact comfort with diverse backgrounds in California will develop naturally for our children if they and their families see themselves first as Americans, instead of as members of groups.

Julie Lutch,

Davis, Calif. (grandmother of two Del Mar students)

Sept. 19 issue:

We need more political leaders like Haviland

In response to the two letters your newspaper published last week regarding councilwoman Ellie Haviland’s vote, I want to express here my support to her.

We surely need more political leaders like her. She is not afraid of shaking the status quo, and her compass is absolutely set on long-term benefits for the community at large (instead of pleasing a few for the next re-election).

It takes courage and selflessness to vote the way she did, and she has absolutely exhibited these values, again, and again.

Helene Citeau

Del Mar

Barbara Bry and the Torrey Pines community

When Barbara Bry began her term as District One councilmember she did the Torrey Pines community a service by advocating for the City to apply on our behalf for a SANDAG grant. The funds would have allowed for the development, with community input, of a long-range plan for our traffic nightmare, Del Mar Heights Road. That story came to a sad end in May last year; SANDAG was ready to make the award but would have required an additional $85K from the City. Those funds were nowhere to be found. Where was our advocate now? The opportunity for a comprehensive master plan was lost.

Rebounding, the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board has been working on developing a practical interim solution. A traffic signal at Mercado was recommended as long ago as 2007 in a comprehensive study funded by the City. At well-attended meetings, the board has listened to a variety of opinions on the idea. Many people favor the installation of the signal; others are opposed either because they fear it will create a false sense of security for pedestrians, or maybe as a NIMBY issue; still others see that a signal will not completely solve the problem, that there are many other strategies, and that a comprehensive study still needs to be conducted. The board made the hard decision in favor of the light as an interim measure till more substantive changes can be achieved and voted unanimously to list the signal as the community’s top capital improvement priority for the FY 2020 budget.

Bry has met with opponents of the signal, and for some mysterious reason seems to take their opinions more seriously than the recommendations of the elected body that represents the whole community. Before she will support the signal, she is requiring that the board establish, by some sort of survey process, that most residents are in favor of it.

Surely, we’ve all learned that ditching representative government for a referendum is dangerous - complex issues are not subject to yes or no votes. Moreover, safety and how to achieve it should not be a popularity contest, but a matter for professional engineers and planners to weigh in on and define strategies.

The board deserves respect and recognition for the intensive work they have done since 2015 to digest community opinion and investigate practical ways to increase safety on Del Mar Heights Road. Our councilmember is undermining a system designed to provide representative government at the local level.

Diana Scheffler

Torrey Pines community

Shame comes to Del Mar’s City Council

After watching the Sept. 9 City Council meeting to the bitter end, we were left slack jawed and ashamed at the behavior of Mayor Dave Druker and City Council member Terry Gaasterland. Despite the Code of Civility always prominently displayed at these meetings, Mayor Druker implied that Councilmember Ellie Haviland was “simple minded” and “nuts” for her conscientious vote at the recent SANDAG meeting in which she followed the City Council’s agreed upon principals in establishing a regional affordable housing program.

Haviland was correct in following the Del Mar City Council’s stated policy on the methodology of placing affordable housing near jobs and public transport by voting against a proposal to shift more affordable housing to the unincorporated regions in San Diego County. She was also right to call out Councilmember Gaasterland “going rogue” in her public pronouncements at SANDAG and in a public “red dot” letter that contradicted the council’s agreed upon policy.

At the end of a long City Council meeting, when the affordable housing issue was to be discussed, Haviland asked Gaasterland for an explanation of her behavior. In her response Gaasterland sidestepped the issue, and relied upon her mastery of 3rd grade arithmetic to point out the apparently egregious mistakes in the calculations made in SANDAG numbers. As a Professor of Data Science Dr. Gaasterland should (and likely does) know the difference between numerical error and statistical significance – since the errors that she discovered were beyond the fourth decimal place (e.g. 2 out of 171,685 affordable units for the county). Undoubtedly, she was hiding behind her stated expertise when she did not answer Councilmember Haviland’s clear question as to why she had “sandbagged” Ellie’s principled vote.

Councilmember Warden rightly noted that any disagreements in the council’s stated policy should be discussed openly at the council meetings before councilmembers criticize the action of our SANDAG representative. Upon which Mayor Druker, misquoting Oscar Wilde, stated “Consistency is the hallmark of simple minds,” then abruptly adjourned the meeting with the comment to Councilmember Haviland “you’re nuts.” This is not the behavior that we expect from members of our City Council, and Druker and Gaasterland should publicly apologize for their behavior.

Art Olson and Shirley King

Del Mar

Sept. 26 issue:

Ms. Haviland’s principled vote appreciated

Recent letters to the editor by Hershell Price and Debbie Church accused Del Mar City Council member Ellie Haviland, of voting against the interests of Del Mar at a meeting of SANDAG. The vote in question was on three alternative versions of the method for allocating housing between cities, under the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) required by the state.

The RHNA methodology recommended by SANDAG and the Del Mar City Council used formulas based on available transit, jobs and a weighting of a percentage of certain income categories. The first motion was to approve the draft presented by the SANDAG staff. A substitute motion proposed by National City, that would have been a radical change to the transit component of the formula was defeated. A second substitute motion by Solana Beach would have reallocated housing to unincorporated areas from the smaller cities and it was also defeated including votes against from Carlsbad, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach and Del Mar (represented by councilmember Haviland).

With this method, Solana Beach (a mass transit center) would decrease their housing requirement by 481 units. Del Mar would have 73 units, down from the current 163 requirement. The county, most likely East County, would have increased their allocation by 1,575 units. Mr. Price identified this as a vote against the interests of Del Mar and “the other small cities.” and asked “what was she thinking.” Instead of asking council member Haviland to explain her vote, he speculated that she had a plan for the 163 units which he found nefarious.

On the contrary, the other small cities voted as she did and the reasons for doing so were not what Mr. Price speculated. They voted against it because: 1) This methodology would have shifted the allocation of housing away from transit and jobs to primarily East County thus substantially increasing transportation needs and regional air pollution, in contradiction to the regions Climate Action Plans. 2) The group was informed at the beginning of the vote that the State of California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) would not approve such a measure. Consequently, her vote in favor of the Solana Beach substitute motion would have been inconsequential. Instead she voted to be consistent with the climate action plans in the region. 3) Councilwoman Haviland’s vote supported Del Mar City Council policy of high priority reducing carbon emissions. Del Mar cannot be a leader in climate action and environmental protections without assuming its fair share of responsibility for solving this complex issue.

We appreciate Ms. Haviland’s principled vote.

Felise Levine and John Goodkind

Del Mar

Is the pot industry being served

by San Diego City Council?

The attendees watching the San Diego City Council review two environmental appeals regarding the siting of a fourth pot shop on Sorrento Valley Rd. and listening to the widespread objections by tenants, environmental groups, the Torrey Pines planning group, the Del Mar School District, concerned neighboring businesses and citizens regarding this pot shop, were awe struck by the silent San Diego City Council as they ignored all the intelligent, well presented objections.

These objections included traffic congestion, too little parking, and direct impacts on the wildlife corridor, adjacent floodway and Los Penasquitos Creek. How could the staff with a straight faces say, and City Council concur, that there would be “no or negligible change to existing use.”

When, in fact, this project will be the first and only retail outlet in a center composed of all professional offices, and whose CC&R’s prohibit marijuana retail stores. And the pot shop will have extended hours of operation to 9 p.m., unlike the other businesses in the retail center.

City council was undaunted by an August state Supreme Court ruling that San Diego’s 2014 marijuana law fails to adequately analyze the potential environmental impact of marijuana dispensaries like this one. Seems like it’s the pot industry and not local constituents who were being served by our City Council.

Barbara Gordon

Carmel Valley

Oct. 3 issue:

Remind Del Mar City Council to keep their promise

The California Coastal Commission recently rejected Del Mar’s local coastal program amendment (LCPA) and wants to force us to accept managed retreat.

The Coastal Commission sent a scary 88-page letter to the City of Del Mar. It is full of coercive modifications to our LCPA that are even worse than we expected.

The Coastal Commission wants:

 to force us to accept managed retreat with trigger points for implementation,

to declare over 700 homes in the beach colony and bluff areas as high risk to potential buyers,

 to strip away Del Mar’s definition of “existing development,” and

 to take away our ability to seek damages when our homes are destroyed by the Coastal Commission’s actions.

In response, we want to strongly encourage members of the Del Mar City Council to keep their promise to support our LCPA as is and to oppose the California Coastal Commission’s modifications to it.

In an October 2018 resolution, the City Council promised to oppose managed retreat, to oppose trigger points that would provide a back door to managed retreat, to uphold Del Mar’s definition of “existing development” that protects our homes from government overreach, and to reject California Coastal Commission modifications that are inconsistent with our local coastal governing documents.

We call on all City Council members to honor your promises to Del Mar.

Residents should attend the Oct. 7 Del Mar City Council meeting to remind our elected officials that we expect them to keep their October 2018 promise.

Jerry Jacobs, President

Del Mar Beach Preservation Coalition

Kudos to David Druker and Terry Gaasterland for upholding Del Mar Community Plan

Mayor David Druker and Councilmember Terry Gaasterland were unfairly criticized by those taking comments out of context and minimizing significant flaws in SANDAG’s housing methodology that negatively impact Del Mar.

First, Druker’s “nuts” comment was prompted by Councilmember Ellie Haviland falsely implying that Druker and Gaasterland opposed moving the train off Del Mar’s eroding bluffs because they opposed “managed retreat”. This was ridiculous since both are the Council’s most active advocates for moving the train and City policy supports managed retreat for public infrastructure.

Second, Druker’s “simple minds” quote was taken from a SANDAG board member criticizing the RHNA methodology. SANDAG’s cookie-cutter formula (35% jobs/65% transit) ignores existing high density (50% of Del Mar’s housing are attached units), Coastal Commission restrictions (height limits prohibit the 15-story tower that SANDAG’s Executive Director later told Gaasterland would “solve Del Mar’s housing needs”), etc.

Finally, Gaasterland was attacked for “going rogue” and not being a “team” player because she exposed and publicly opposed SANDAG’s RHNA methodology after discovering significant flaws which disproportionately impact small cities like Del Mar. For example, SANDAG unfairly included almost 2,000 part-time and seasonal jobs held by students, retirees and racetrack workers housed in existing family homes, dormitories or the 664 2-bed housing units at the Fairgrounds. CHD properly excludes those housed in “group quarters” (Fairgrounds, college dormitories and military housing) but SANDAG included their jobs.

Haviland received written public comment two days before the SANDAG board meeting from Gaasterland, me and others exposing the RHNA methodology’s flaws which we testified to at the meeting. This was disregarded as Haviland voted against Solana Beach’s “small city” adjustment motion which failed by only one vote, Del Mar’s! Those of us from Del Mar were aghast as were the motion’s supporters from Solana Beach, Coronado, Chula Vista, Lemon Grove, Santee, El Cajon, Poway, Oceanside and the County.

Instead, Haviland voted for SANDAG’s flawed methodology which more than doubled Del Mar’s housing allocation to 163. This endangers our Community Plan’s current land use. It threatens our library, post office and civic center which the Council majority voted to include in a housing study (Gaasterland and Druker opposed).

Another potential housing site in Del Mar’s “22 in 5” study is the 5.3 acre Shores property purchased with $5.5M in private donations to preserve and protect the non-profit Winston School and Del Mar’s only playing fields.

Please thank Terry Gaasterland and Dave Druker for being on Del Mar’s team by upholding our Community Plan!

Laura DeMarco

Del Mar

Del Mar housing requirement shocking and unwarranted

Citizens of Del Mar have overwhelmingly communicated to their city to “rightfully” minimize SANDAG’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) for Del Mar. Regardless, at last Monday’s Sept. 30 City Council meeting, the City Council agreed to the highest number of required additional housing - 163 additional residences in Del Mar. That number could have been instead / reduced closer to 73 additional required residences in Del Mar. This could have been achieved by Del Mar City Council merely requesting the State to recalculate data utilized by SANDAG, by which they determined the number of full time employees at the fairgrounds/Del Mar.

The law: Determining required housing is a calculation based upon the number of full time employees in a particular city.

This error by SANDAG and the State was caused when they considered most all Del Mar fairground employees to have primary employment - full time jobs on the fair grounds (fair season). When, in fact, most jobs from the Del Mar fairgrounds are from the Del Mar fair season and those are seasonal jobs lasting only a few weeks or so and are temporary/transient jobs. Not to be calculated as a basis for requiring additional housing in Del Mar.

Due to that incorrect information/data, Del Mar is now ladened with a much higher requirement to produce housing.

Del Mar City Council could have simply accepted the bad number which was based upon bad data, and at the very least requested the State to recalculate full-time employment from the fairgrounds.

Specifically, persons merely working at the fairgrounds should not and do not automatically equivocate to full-time employees. In fact, part-time, seasonal, transient employees, numbering approximately 2,000 should not have been calculated as full-time employees within the City of Del Mar!

Please note: Terry Gaasterland has been our most representative council person for all of Del Mar’s citizens.

Big question: Why did our DM City Council fail to submit to the State, at the very least, a request to recalculate the number of jobs in Del Mar - specifically from the fairgrounds, which in turn could and would have vastly reduced our housing requirements?

Bewildered and shocked,

Arnie Wiesel

Del Mar

City Council member

Haviland forsakes Del Mar

Del Mar City Council member Ellie Haviland was surely not representing Del Mar in good faith when she cast her vote at the SANDAG meeting on Sept. 6. Solana Beach had formed a coalition and made a motion to reduce the number of units for small cities, including Del Mar by 55%. There were eight other cities that supported the motion, Ellie Haviland voted against and the motion failed. Therefore, now tripling the required low income housing units that Del Mar is required to have in the next 10 years from 63 to 161. Ellie Haviland has failed Del Mar as a representative and council member.

Tanya Blackshaw

Del Mar

One View:

High drama of Congressional elections

By Godon Clanton

Area Congressional races should be of interest to all San Diego County voters, regardless of where they live. Our county has five Congressional representatives. We all have a stake in all five districts. Let’s look at the big picture.

When I arrived in Del Mar in 1974, Republicans held four of the five seats. Today Democrats hold four of five. Similarly, Orange County, once a bastion of conservative Republicanism, now has an all-Democratic Congressional delegation.

Consider now the high drama unfolding in four local Congressional districts — and in the race for mayor of San Diego.

In East County’s 50th District, former 49th District Congressman Darrell Issa recently joined an already-crowded Republican field that includes anti-tax talk-show host Carl DeMaio, state Senator Brian Jones, and, oh yes, the besieged incumbent Duncan Hunter II, under federal indictment for misuse of campaign funds. Hunter’s trial has been further postponed because of legal appeals.

Issa’s entry into this race is big news. Four other Republican candidates dropped out and endorsed him.

The lone Democrat in this contest, Ammar Campa-Najjar, lost to Hunter by only three percentage points in 2018. With four prominent candidates dividing the GOP vote, Ammar has a good shot at making it into the November run-off.

Meanwhile in the 53rd CD, 10-term Democratic Congresswoman Susan Davis recently surprised everyone by announcing that she will not seek re-election. Predictably, this open seat has attracted 10 Democratic candidates including Sara Jacobs, who ran unsuccessfully in the 49th in 2018, and San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez. The 53rd includes Mission Hills, Balboa Park, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley, and Chula Vista. Democrats out-number Republicans by about two to one. This is one to watch.

In the 52nd District, incumbent Democrat Scott Peters will likely face two challengers, far-right Republican talk show host Graham Ledger and a spoiler Democrat, Nancy Casady, whose campaign is a protest against Scott’s decision not to support the Green New Deal. I hope she will reconsider. The district includes Poway, La Jolla, and Coronado.

Things are simpler in the 49th District, where first-term Democratic Congressman Mike Levin will face handpicked Republican Brian Maryott, the mayor of San Juan Capistrano. The district reaches from Del Mar to Dana Point.

Meanwhile, on another front, a Trumpian “anti-socialist” Republican, Richard M. Hansen, has entered the race for mayor of San Diego against leading Democrats, Assemblyman Todd Gloria and Councilwoman Barbara Bry.

— Gordon Clanton teaches sociology at San Diego State University. He welcomes comments at gclanton@sdsu.edu.

Oct. 10 issue:

Community Choice Energy: Why I voted ‘No’

Dear Del Mar Residents,

As you might have heard, at Monday’s City Council Meeting, the Council voted to proceed forward with establishing a Community Choice Energy JPA with Carlsbad and Solana Beach. I voted “No” for many reasons, but especially since the risks are unknown, and sufficient study had not taken place. Our Finance Committee had serious concerns about many aspects of the plan, and I was very concerned that those issues should be studied further prior to entering to an agreement that could have negative implications to the financial health of our City over the long term.

Some of those concerns are as follows:

A) City consultant’s 10-year projections on costs depend on purchasing electricity (from others) at costs lower than SDG&E’s. They also depend on increased energy use and growing numbers of customers over time (by at least 2% each year within Carlsbad, Solana Beach and Del Mar).

B) No worst-case scenario has been given or analyzed.

C) Exit terms and exit costs have not yet been determined.

D) Governance is not yet defined, and an implementation plan does not yet exist.

At the Council meeting, the Finance Committee chair spoke eloquently for 6 minutes to brief Council members on cautions, recommendations, and concerns. One week of study by the Finance Committee and 6 minutes of testimony to the Council is not nearly enough for the business experts on the Finance Committee to weigh in thoroughly. Without a thorough financial deliberation, how can any Council member vote with fiscal confidence? Again, I chose to vote “No.”

Why the hurry? If any of our residents want to participate in using only Green Energy while a more in-depth study is being done by the Finance Committee, they can do so by signing up for SDGE’s renewable energy program. We could have easily joined the JPA the following year, after all the risks had been analyzed. When it comes to the financial health of our community, I want to know all the facts before moving forward. I am proud to have voted “No” at this moment in time.

Terry Gaasterland,

Del Mar City Council Member

Red light fatality in Carmel Valley

On Sunday there was a fatality in Carmel Valley as a result of a tow truck running a red light (www.delmartimes.net—see story under news section). Crashes like this are totally preventable because the majority of them are due to distracted driving. You don’t have to be a genius to figure that out. You just have to look around at the people driving around you. I followed a woman into the Vons’ parking lot on Sunday who had just run a red light and she had 2 kids in car seats in the back. She apologized for being on her phone.

If law enforcement had the funding to dedicate more officers to writing tickets to people who violate the cellphone laws, if we had red light cameras and if the media would report that the crash is not only being investigated for the occurrence of alcohol or drugs, but also for the distracted driving, maybe the public would start paying attention. But as it stands, the cost of a ticket for distracted driving is too low to make a difference for most people, the ticket doesn’t show up as a point on your license and they don’t impact your insurance rates, so who is going to care? Only those who have friends and family members who get killed or injured. If you are interested in helping change this public health crisis, please attend the next Carmel Valley Planning Board meeting. It is Thursday, Oct. 24 at the Carmel Valley Library at 7 p.m. Officer Briggs from the San Diego Police Dept. will be there and would be happy to hear your concerns and suggestions about this problem

Andrea Mintz

Carmel Valley

SANDAG ‘no’ vote dangerous for us all

As a Solana Beach resident, I am appalled by Del Mar City Council member Ellie Haviland’s “No” vote on our Mayor David Zito’s “small city adjustment” motion at SANDAG. She bulldozed her own city’s non-existent open land (the library? the post office? a school?), and her own residents are already rightly upset with her and speaking out. I thought I’d skip writing this letter, but then I watched the continued discussion at the Sept. 30 Del Mar City Council meeting. Now it’s time to set the record straight.

At the Sept. 30 meeting, Haviland stubbornly defended her vote with no apology and no accurate facts to back-up her position. But then she actually implied that Mayor Zito’s motion would not have aligned with the Regional Transportation Plan and would have raised green house gas emissions. Both are patently untrue.

Solana Beach is one of the most environmentally progressive cities in the region and would never propose something that wasn’t environmentally sound. Zito’s motion would have taken merely 2% of the entire regional housing allocation and moved it from the five small cities whose allocations increased dramatically from the last cycle and re-distributed them to those cities whose allocations had decreased dramatically, all of which had as much or more transit. Frankly, his motion put more housing closer to jobs.

It appears to me that Haviland can’t think on her feet, can’t even get it that the DM “jobs” outnumbered the total Del Mar population, can’t admit she made a mistake, and can’t recognize a good deal for her own city. But then to demolish four other small cities at the same time, for what reason she has yet to articulate clearly--well, that’s dangerous for us all. Del Mar should replace her at SANDAG before she does any further damage.

Carla Echols-Hayes

Solana Beach