Opinion/Letters to the Editor February, March 2020


Feb. 6 issue:

How Del Mar man was named

John Grant’s letter to the editor about Del Mar Man (Del Mar Times, 1/30/2020) brought back memories of my encounter with a student or associate of Dr. Malcolm Rogers. Dr. Rogers, a “pioneering archeologist” in San Diego and Baja, died in 1960. Dr. Rogers was long associated with San Diego’s Museum of Man.

I was City Manager in Del Mar during the middle 1970s. The City’s “Scripps Preserve”, adjacent to, but not part of, the proposed site for the Marisol Project (Measure G, March 3 ballot), is a narrow strip of land and bluff face, comprising 4.3 acres, stretching around the tip of the high ground overlooking “Dog Beach”. In 1971 the City purchased this property with funds donated by James Scripps, of the Scripps Foundation.

The visitor that day told me he wanted to undertake archeaological research on the City-owned bluff property. In its archive collection, the Museum of Man had a human skull found by Dr. Rogers in the late 1920s on the south-facing slope of the bluff. Early carbon-dating tests suggested the skull could be 20,000 years old. If true, that would make it one of the earliest human artifacts known at the time in North America. The visitor sought to determine if other human artifacts remained.

My visitor went on to add that the museum intended to put the artifact on display as San Diego Man. He asked for the City’s permission to undertake a further search. I was happy to oblige, in the interest of science. However, not being above “boosterism” myself, I suggested it would be appropriate, in exchange for the free license, to rename the artifact Del Mar Man, in part due to the cultural attachment of local ancient humans to the sea. The visitor quickly agreed.

After a couple months of investigation, the visitor returned to my office and reported that no further evidence of human artifacts had been found. His field investigation, along with notes from Dr. Rogers, confirmed the skull had been exposed on the face of the bluff, as natural erosion occurred. Dr. Rogers likely had found a midden layer (fancy word for ancient trash dump) into which the skull had been deposited millennia ago.

Del Mar Man was exhibited in the Museum of Man for about 15 years, after which it was removed to the archives. It remains there, in accordance with an agreement with the Kumeyaay band of Diegueño Native-Americans, who claimed ancestral rights over the artifact. Subsequent studies revealed the early carbon dating had misjudged the age of Del Mar Man by a factor of four. The more recent estimated age is a mere 5,000 years.

Wayne Dernetz,

Del Mar

Please define ‘enough’

Re letter: Marisol Economic Report raises serious doubts, by Tom McGreal, 1/30/2020

Under this misleading title, Tom McGreal raises doubts about the reliability of the City of Del Mar’s estimates for future revenues from the proposed Marisol project. These estimates were not made by the developer as implied by Tom’s title, but by the City’s contractors, Keyser Marston Associates, Inc. (KMA) and Maurice Robinson & Associates (MRA).

KMA and MRA estimated an annual $5.96 million income to the City, and I assume they used “industry standard” methods to arrive at this number. But following Tom’s reasoning, let’s say they over-estimated by 100% (highly unlikely?). $2.98 million dollars per year to the City is not enough to justify a “Yes” vote?

If not, please send me my share of $745 ($2,980,000 divided by 4,000 residents).

Larry D. Brooks

Del Mar

Marisol initiative concerns

Of all of the reasons that I am concerned about the Marisol Resort project, there are two that are most prominent for me.

This environmentally and culturally precious and very unstable cliff is one of the last pieces of open space at the beach in this region. How can we even think of devastating it by blasting it away to make this huge development with 408 underground parking places, several rain water holding tanks, and numerous swimming pools? We just can’t allow this zoning change from residential to commercial to occur. The DEIR is full of inconsistencies…we just can’t let this happen! We just must find other more appropriate ways to provide for affordable housing.

Another major concern of mine is that this exquisite piece of land is directly at the end of the San Dieguito River Valley Park, and above the San Dieguito Watershed as it flows into the ocean. If you’ve ever stood on the peak of Volcan Mt. (5,300 ft. elevation) 55 miles to the east, the origin of the Watershed, you’ve witnessed how it spans a breathtaking view all the way to our beach. Many of our residents who were visionaries 30 years ago have worked passionately since then to acquire parcels of land which enabled this park to become a reality.

The San Dieguito River Valley has now become a rich source of open space for our entire region creating trails for hiking, riding and biking, and we are greatly appreciative of our visionaries’ efforts. It was their intention, as stated in the San Dieguito River Park Concept Plan adopted in 1994 and updated in 2002, to adopt the following concepts: to encourage local jurisdictions to protect the sweeping open space views within this landscape; that future development should be compatible with the open space character of the lagoon area in terms of both visual compatibility and intensity of use; that view opportunities of the lagoon and the ocean from trails and existing circulation routes should be preserved and where appropriate, enhanced; and finally, all uses adjacent to the San Dieguito Lagoon should be sensitive to reducing adverse impacts associated with noise, lighting, stray pets and intensive human activity.

It is with this unique and vastly important history of cultural and environmental sensitivity that we need to insure that this area is protected for future generations.

Carol Kerridge

Del Mar

Innovative solution to freight problems

The threat to rail posed by a collapse of Del Mar’s unstable bluffs continues to grow. News articles report the causes of the bluffs’ erosion to be rain and homeowner water runoff as well as high tides caused by climate change. The bluffs’ instability seems unlikely to lessen and the potential for serious damage will increase over time.

The bluffs’ rail corridor now carries 8 million passengers and an estimated $1 billion worth of freight annually. It has been reported that 6 freight trains consisting of 40 cars, each car weighing an average of 65 tons (2,600 tons per train), travel the corridor on a daily basis. During calendar year 2018, approximately 4.8 million tons of freight were moved along the corridor. Were the bluffs to fail, this means approximately 192,000 large semi-trucks would need to be added on Interstate 5 in order to provide the same capacity.

The question is turning to how we (as a region and state) will address the problem and implement a solution? At present the leading solution appears to be tunneling under the City of Del Mar. At an estimated cost of $4 billion (a sum which does not include the cost overruns common to subsurface construction or the individual property and business losses that may result) a question is whether a tunnel will provide the best and most cost-effective solution? Or, are there additional solutions that should also be evaluated for their potential to address the problems?

The good news is there is an example that may fit. An innovative solution to freight problems is a new technology named the Freight Shuttle System (“FSS”) which has been researched, designed and developed over two decades by Texas A&M University’s Transportation Institute (www.freightshuttle.com). The FSS is an electric freight transporter operating on an elevated guideway over existing highway rights of way and is capable of going inland up to 500 miles from seaports and border ports of entry.

The FSS holds promise to improve air quality (by reducing harmful emissions); decrease highway congestion; reduce damage to infrastructure; and to improve safety (by reducing truck traffic in congested urban areas). Further, the cost of constructing and operating an FSS application would be paid for by private funds at no taxpayer cost. It appears to hold promise as an innovative alternative enabling freight trains to be taken off the bluffs, but do we have the commitment and determination to evaluate the new technology and its benefits as a possible solution?

Mike Boyle

Del Mar

Wishful thinking

In his letter to the editor (Jan. 23) Terry Sinnott asserts that “Approval of Measure G does not reduce Design Review or City control over the project. ...All normal approvals will be required.”

It is highly doubtful that Mr. Sinnott’s assertion is correct. While it is true that Marisol’s specific plan seems to concede the possibility of design review and approval , the plan does not spell out the scope of any such review where a developer has substituted its zoning plan for that of the city’s. Reference to a combination of sources including the state’s Election Code, Del Mar’s municipal code and the unanimous 2014 decision of the Ca. Supreme Court in the Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance case suggest that where an initiative procedure has replaced a municipalities zoning code, city authorities are bound by the core metrics of the specific plan including any new height and density standards.

In such instance, the scope of review will primarily need to be limited to determining whether the final building plan is consistent with the “zoning ordinance … of the underlying zone.” Since the ultimate building plan is likely to conform to the specific plan, DRB review could not in all likelihood reduce or alter the core building metrics set out in the replacement zoning overlay.

Whether one approves or disapproves of the initiative it would be wishful thinking to believe that Marisol’s standards could be altered in any substantial way by the city if Measure G were to be approved by the voters.

Ralph Reisner

Del Mar

Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Illinois

Marisol wants the keys to our city

Measure G is clearly all about a drastic zoning change. It will subject the North Bluff in Del Mar to high density commercial from the current low density residential now allowing only 10-20 percent lot coverage. The Marisol Plan destroys the Del Mar Community Plan, our constitution if you will, to allow the developer to build a huge project tantamount to four Walmart stores and the excavation of a fragile bluff to accommodate 400 cars.

The developers paint this zoning change as one that will allow bluff access for all. Sorry, but we already enjoy that and anyone building there will have to provide coastal access as per the CA Coastal Act. The developers are not providing anything unique.

The plan calls for the removal of 42 protected mature and majestic Torrey Pines and Monterey Cypress trees. I’m not OK with that.

The Bluff Preserve, a place for quiet meditation and reflection, would be marred by the noise, light and bulky mass of the proposed structures looming at 46 ft. tall over the Preserve.

The extremely conservative setbacks in the draft EIR ignore other major studies of bluff erosion in that specific area. Those pertinent studies reveal erosion rates 0.8 to 1.2 feet/year, about 5 times higher than in the EIR. Over 75 years it is possible to see 78-235 feet of erosion on the bluff. That is well over the 33 feet mentioned in the plan.

Del Mar’s Coastal Bluff Overlay Zone does not allow swimming pools or spas and no seawalls or other protective structures.

Traffic will be a nightmare.

Runoff from the property will likely adversely affect the San Dieguito Lagoon and the wildlife there.

This plan will result in many unmitigable and unacceptable changes to our Community Plan and the bluff. Del Mar’s Design Review Board loses it teeth and only becomes advisory. I’ve read both the Initiative and draft EIR and what I found is shocking! Marisol gets to have virtually free rein to do as they please on the beautiful bluff. I’m not OK with that.

This is a flagrant land grab attempt by the developers for profit. To accept this plan sets a dangerous precedent for the future of Del Mar. Voters who want Del Mar to retain its quaint village character should vote “no” on Measure G. Del Mar does not need this plan and Solana Beach does not want it.

Udo Wahn, M.D.

Del Mar resident, 37 years

Snowed in Del Mar

Measure G is a zone change, not a “Specific Plan”! Approving this measure will take away the very safeguards that assure Del Mar’s long- time protection against over-development. The developer is trying to “end run” this plan on one of the last parcels of bluff property and has spent over half a million dollars to misrepresent this proposal and fool Del Mar voters into approval of a zoning measure which will take away any potential review and safeguard of this property. The developer has gone so far as to create a false scenario of “mansionization” with no access for the community, to make us feel like the “resort plan” is our only option. This is a complete fallacy, as is their depiction of this project as environmentally sound. It is anything but! Sierra Club states in its assessment of this plan: “this project as proposed has not fully addressed all of the associated environmental impacts.” and “better design/mitigation is essential before this project is approved.” This Measure will eliminate Del Mar’s bluff slope and Canyon Overlay Zone 14-foot height restriction, which was created “to control the development of properties in the Overlay Zones so as to preserve scenic bluffs and canyons.”

This initiative would circumvent the community plan we have approved and lived by for many decades. Measure G guarantees “that when there is a conflict between the provisions of this Specific Plan and the Del Mar Municipal Code, the provisions of the Specific Plan shall prevail.” This is madness! Approving a re-zone of this property will allow them (or any future developer of this site) to build to a height of 46’ and develop over 400,000 sq. ft. of land, on a property presently zoned for single family dwellings, not to exceed 80,000 sq. ft. and maximum height of 26’. We know this is a delicate and unstable bluff that will not sustain the kind of excavation and load that this developer intends. Worst of all: The liability of this development plan falls on the shoulders of our community, if we vote to approve this re-zoning. That means if there is a failure of the bluff, there is every certainty that the developer would not be responsible, for it was approved by a vote of the public.

Don’t be fooled by the smear attempts of this developer. It will cause unavoidable traffic mire on the Coast Highway, Via de la Valle, Jimmy Durante Blvd. and adjacent roadways. Their solution to this overload of traffic? More stop signs and street lights. The community will bear all of the burden of this over-development. And we will have little or no voice in making changes to whatever it is this developer decides to do once he has eliminated our community plan’s guidelines and safeguards. Vote “No” on Measure G.

Drew Cady

Del Mar

Marisol environmental disaster?

Our San Dieguito Lagoon is an important habitat for many endangered birds, such as the California Gnatcatcher, the California Least Tern, The Light-Footed Clapper Rail, Ridgeway’s Rail, and Belding’s Savannah Sparrow, as well as threatened species, such as the Snowy Plover.

The Lagoon is home to endangered plants, such as “salt marsh bird’s beak” a federally- and CA-listed endangered subspecies of plant. The Lagoon is also home to many salt marsh grasses, which create habitat for birds and fish, and very importantly serve to redirect carbons from the atmosphere into their root systems, in the muddy sediment of the Lagoon. This is called “blue carbon sequestration.” This carbon capture by marsh grasses is being studied in local lagoons by Matt Costa, Ph.D. of Scripps Institute of Oceanography (SIO). Dr. Costa’s studies have found that these marsh grasses capture much larger amounts of carbon than previously believed.

Further the Lagoon serves as an important habitat for many fish including the California halibut and California killifish. The Lagoon serves as a fish hatchery and nursery for fish, and once old enough, these fish find their way to the open ocean.

The North Bluff is also a fragile environment and home to the nesting California Gnatcatcher and other wildlife. The bluff averages 75 to 80 feet tall, is estimated to be 40 to 60 million years old, and is the site of the discovery of “Del Mar Man”.

In August, 2019 Scripps Institute of Oceanography Geologist Adam Young, Ph.D. visited Scripps Bluff Preserve and examined the beach below. He observed the site “is actively eroding from several processes and contains many hazardous features prone to failure.”

Erosion resulting from daily wave-cliff interaction is causing undercutting and overhangs at the shoreline base of the cliffs. Evidence of wind erosion was also observed. Several sea caves have formed along the base, some as deep as 10 feet under the bluff. Young also observed and photographed numerous cliff-face cracks, some well-developed, representing potential imminent bluff failure. Some cracks were due to faults or joints, and others due to fracturing processes. Young also observed evidence of very recent lower cliff failures in areas where wave action had undercut the cliff base. Young further observed erosion of the upper cliff from surface water runoff.

Marisol wants to construct buildings 46-feet high, totaling 410,970 square feet, and to deeply excavate the North Bluff for a multi-story underground garage, which may well further destabilize the bluff. Marisol will flush thousands of gallons of treated water into the Lagoon, which will likely degrade the lagoon and ocean, and harm the natural habitat.

Only the voters can stop it! Vote “No” on G.

Claire McGreal

Del Mar

One View:

Marisol vote and the future of Del Mar

By Gordon Clanton

Mail ballots for the March 3 primary have arrived. As always, I advise holding your ballot until Election Day so you can take into account new revelations and emerging scandals. Del Mar voters face the biggest land-use vote since the 1980s, when voters approved revised plans for the Del Mar Plaza and L’Auberge.

Measure G would rezone part of an ocean bluff top near the west end of Via de la Valle to permit construction of the Marisol resort hotel, condo towers, and restaurants. The defeat of Measure G probably would result in construction of 16 gated mansions on the property.

As with the Plaza and L’Auberge, the Marisol proposal has divided the town. The debate is intense, with some unfortunate name-calling. Let’s be civil. Let’s take this vote and move on. This is the Del Mar way.

On a proposal of this sort, we can expect at least four clusters of motives: 1. Those who would oppose any and all commercial development at this site. 2. Those who oppose this project because it is too big or too intrusive. 3. Those who support the project because they like it. 4. Those who support all projects.

I am not opposed to the idea of a small resort hotel on the site. The Marisol proposal is very green. It would open parts of the bluff top to the public. It would add some of the affordable housing Del Mar needs to meet state mandates – although most of the affordable units would go to hotel employees living on site.

But the proposed hotel would be too big, too intrusive. Its tallest elements would be four stories tall. It would tower over Del Mar’s north beach community. It would block residential views from Del Mar and Solana Beach. I urge a No vote on Measure G.

If, as I expect, Measure G is defeated, 16 gated mansions probably will be built on the land. They would block no views. They would not add appreciably to traffic on nearby streets. From the beach, from Camino del Mar, there would be no apparent change.

Or not. Perhaps the developers will decide that a much smaller hotel is their most profitable option.

For more information, go to the City of Del Mar website and type MARISOL in the search box. For a revealing overview of the bluff top, go to Google maps/satellite.

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

Feb. 13 issue:

Measure G should be supported for Del Mar’s future benefit

As a long-time resident and voter in Del Mar, Zephyr executive team member and proponent of the Marisol Specific Plan initiative, I encourage my neighbors to vote “Yes” on Measure G on March 3.

With a “Yes” vote on Measure G, a commitment to Del Mar is confirmed for extraordinary public benefits. The alternative - a gated enclave of large, private mansions - will not be required to provide any such benefits.

Benefits provided by voting “Yes” on Measure G - Marisol include:

• Access – Public accessibility to 16.5 acres, ADA-compliant walking trails, incredible ocean and surrounding views, all built and maintained by property ownership / management.

• Economic and Fiscal – An estimated $5.9+ million in new revenue for Del Mar, per a third-party expert analysis commissioned by the city.

• Sustainability – An exemplary model of environmental stewardship, with significant state-of-the-art sustainability measures.

• Bluff Preservation and Conservation – A significant bluff protection setback, dedicated for public enjoyment, and advanced drainage design will serve to prevent erosive forces.

• Beach Nourishment Funding – An annual contribution or endowment to pay for a Beach Nourishment Plan administered by the city.

• Affordable Housing – The Specific Plan shall require the development of 22 affordable housing units. These units will assist the City in fulfilling its housing goals and requirements.

After the successful result of “Yes” on Measure G, the “normal Del Mar way” of all other discretionary approvals is still required – Design Review, Coastal Development Permit, Planning Commission and City Council. We are respectful and mindful of this fully discretionary review process.

Del Mar needs new revenue resources for revitalizing its downtown, its shops and businesses. Marisol will help provide that revitalization. New revenue generation will help fund needed street improvements, parks and utility undergrounding.

The assemblage of these properties creates an unparalleled opportunity to realize truly extraordinary benefits for Del Mar, an opportunity never to be seen again. These properties have always been closed off from the public.

We listened to community and to City Council members who said a land use change of this type should go to a vote of the people. We prepared the Marisol Specific Plan, detailing commitments of public benefits and how they will be implemented upon approval of the plan.

With a voter initiative, the voters are exercising their own legislative power that the California constitution expressly reserves to them. A voter initiative is democracy in its purest sense, the ultimate public participation.

Please vote “Yes” on Measure G, now for Del Mar, its citizens and for Del Mar’s future benefit.

Jim McMenamin,

Del Mar

Questions about Marisol

The “Yes on G” people are saying that the developer will “down-size” the development after the vote. What makes these folks think that a developer, who spends over a million dollars on an election, will voluntarily cut square footage or height, after being allowed by the voters (if passed) to build out 410,970 square feet and 46-feet high? I am not willing to risk the size of this development on whether the City Council is able to push the developer to make modifications, if G passes.

In addition, why is the developer willing to put up story poles after the vote but not before? Shouldn’t the community be allowed to view the extent of this massive development before we vote? These questions lead me to vote No on G.

Kate Larson

Del Mar

Proposed Marisol Resort would benefit Del Mar

As the vote on Measure G nears I urge Del Mar residents and business owners to carefully review the abundance of materials and studies readily available on the proposed Marisol Resort. When we first heard about it almost a year ago my wife and I had questions and concerns since our Del Mar residence living room and master bedroom windows look directly at the bluff.

After attending several community meetings hosted by the developers, as well as attending several Del Mar city meetings and thoroughly reviewing all the information and asking tough questions we now fully support the Resort.

Del Mar can use the revenues and taxes the Resort would provide Del Mar to enhance our already great village. Also my wife and I like to walk the beach and we appreciate the Resort committing to ongoing sand replenishment. Finally, we will be able to hike the entire bluff that has been off limits and blocked off by chain link fences. Maybe best of all Dog Beach will be able to get rid of the porta-potties and have permanent and hygienic restrooms built and paid for by the Resort.

Sadly, a lot of misinformation has been spread against the developers, the Marisol Resort and even us citizens that support the Resort.

Don’t be misled. Do some homework and I think you will come to the same conclusion we have and support the Resort. By the way, prior to our first attending the developer community meetings last year we had never met them and have no financial interest in the Resort.

We just see a good deal for Del Mar, our beach and our city’s financial security.

Thanks for listening,

Robert and Eriko Dalton

Del Mar

Initiative G changes Del Mar Community Plan

The initiative changes the Del Mar Community Plan, it’s clear in the language of the Marisol G initiative.

Initiative’s Chap 1.7 &1.11 explicitly says that where the city’s municipal code (DMMC) differs from the Marisol Specific Plan, the (Marisol) Specific Plan prevails! If a future proposed project were found in violation of Del Mar Design Review Ordinances, it would not matter, as long as the project meets the terms in the Specific Plan.(the Marisol G initiative!)

The initiative changes the Del Mar Community Plan: to maintain the existing small-scale character of the community and permit only one- and two-story, low intensity development with a maximum allowable height of 26 feet, except for any Specific Plans (G-inititive) approved by the City and certified by the Coastal Commission.

No question: The Marisol initiative explicitly says that City Council cannot change any terms in it. Changes would require a new initiative and a new ballot vote.

There can be no misunderstanding that approving G will hand control of bluff development from Del Mar City to the developer, Zephyr.

Hugh Cree

Del Mar

Massive zoning change for high density in Del Mar

Deadline to submit written comments against is Tuesday, Feb. 18 by noon. This is our last chance as a community to say no and refute the city’s PEIR which simply states - “no problem.” However, this is a problem!

As a longtime Del Mar resident, I never would have believed our small village beach town’s community plan and zoning laws would or could be overturned like a wholesale liquidation for high density development.

Our community plan and zoning laws never allowed for such an increase and burden of traffic, as evidenced by Del Mar’s recent installation of the single lane roundabout specifically designed to slow traffic.

Traffic is so bad, during summer fair season, our fire trucks are relocated to the south end of the city. Obviously, emergency response times are already significantly increased and would be further delayed. Note, it can already take up to an hour for residents to reach their homes and children from within Del Mar.

Let’s be blatantly honest about affordable housing:

Developers crave high density. And, our city has failed to provide adequate affordable housing. As recently as the construction of our new government building, our city government did not support affordable housing as part of the construction, which would have helped, encourage and invigorate city foot traffic as a magnet for greater city revitalization, etc.

Essential to the best formula for achieving affordable housing is to realize we have better options. Our community needs to rise to the occasion and not continue to follow our City Planning department’s reckless path into dark, disparity and uncertainty.

As a community/city, we need not further gridlock our only major north portal entry and exit for Del Mar. We can appropriate and designate affordable housing in large numbers on the Fairgrounds, purchasing existing apartment buildings, etc.

Please do not fail to stand up for your rights to have a functioning infrastructure.

We must be heard or we fail in silence.

Send your written comments against and in response to Del Mar’s government proposal and PEIR before the deadline, Tuesday, Feb. 18 at noon to planning@delmar.ca.us and City Council members.

Arnie Wiesel

Del Mar

Paving Paradise to build massive housing units

Change of zoning in North Del Mar Commercial Zone to high density residential zoning will forever change the character, beauty and calm life of all of Del Mar.

Traffic jams will be daily, not seasonal, all along Camino Del Mar and Coast Boulevard. Seasonal traffic jams will be gridlock to the extent of increased emergency response times/services. Residents’ daily movements will be sacrificed to the point of imprisonment.

Beautiful north and lagoon vistas and quiet evenings will now be filled with massive buildings, noise and congestion like other Los Angeles beach communities. Especially since this development is on the major entrance/exit road in and out of Del Mar which is already incumbered by a single lane roundabout.

Previous poor city planning, and no past affordable housing action has caused a serious problem that is now being dumped on and destroying the north end of town. As substantiated by no affordable housing units built in recent City Hall redevelopment.

Developers are hungry to develop/profit off Del Mar’s problem to the point of asking for all possible exceptions from Del Mar building restrictions. Del Mar is so desperate to fulfill and so afraid to fight State mandates for development that our beautiful community is at risk and will forever change from this massive zoning change.

Please express your concerns.

Deadline to submit written comments against is Tuesday, Feb. 18 at noon.

City Council: ehaviland@delmar.ca.us, tgaasterland@delmar.ca.us, ddruker@delmar.ca.us, dworden@delmar.ca.us, sparks@delmar.ca.us

Annette Wiesel,

Del Mar

Feb. 20 issue:

Environmental disaster?

The naysayers on Measure G have been crying “Environmental Disaster.” I have asked a couple of times for their definition of environmental disaster as it pertains to the Marisol proposal, but as yet no replies.

A popular red herring from the naysayers is development too close to the edge of the bluff. But immediately north of the proposed development are condos and swimming pools built at the edge of the bluff, with very limited public access to the bluff or the beach below, and with no surface water catchment system. Those condos have been there about 40 years, and I do not recall hearing of one falling into the ocean.

So, what is the next “Environmental Disaster” red herring?

Larry D. Brooks

Del Mar

Vote ‘No’ on Measure G

I have resided in Del Mar only a few years but am very grateful to live here. The gifts of this area are priceless. Please do not allow commercial interests ruin our natural treasures. We will not benefit from Marisol — only more traffic, pollution, devouring more resources and, most importantly, ruining our wonderful view north and our bluff. The consequences cannot be reversed, and we will be responsible to future residents. Please cherish our home and mindfully vote “No” on measure G.

Nelson J Goodman, DMD

Del Mar

Vote ‘No’ on Measure G

The Marisol development has been advertised by the developer as progress for Del Mar, but don’t be fooled by the developer’s money behind the campaign. They do not have Del Mar’s best interest at heart, only their profit. The amount of money the developer has put into advertising is twice or more than what residents have quickly put together. Building on the unstable bluff and increasing the traffic is unsustainable for our small city.

To quote from one of their ads, mitigation of the traffic is impossible because of the fair traffic, so does it make sense to make it worse? Who uses that logic. It is not good for Del Mar and a “No” vote is the best way to fight big developers taking over our city.

Barbara and Doug Myers

Del Mar

Important to vote ‘Yes’ on Measure G

Measure G offers a choice between two — and only two — alternatives: Marisol’s visitor-serving specific plan use or residential mansions use. There are no other alternatives.

This property will never be a park. It’s private property. No one is selling or buying this property for a park. In fact, the specific plan visitor-serving use is like a park, because there will be open space, walking trails and viewing areas dedicated and open to the public.

So, here is the choice: a hotel with villas and great benefits for the City, or 16 large mansion estates with practically no benefits whatsoever for the City, 16 Design Review applications, 16 grading jobs, 16 very large home construction projects.

The development applicants are fully committed financially. There is no other alternative. If Measure G does not succeed, the applicant cannot and will not try again. The people have spoken! The developers will have no other alternative but to protect their investment and build the large mansions. And Del Mar will lose this important, great opportunity for something really special. It will never happen again.

I have read enough, heard enough from both sides. The Marisol specific plan for a hotel and amenities is good. The property is subject to public review. Design Review is fully enforced.

The benefits for Del Mar are committed with a “Yes” on Measure G. Del Mar gets significant new tax revenues, dedicated access and walking trails — and still gets to review the whole process for approval at Design Review Board, Planning Commission and City Council. And then the Coastal Commission has public hearings to review for approval!

Don’t listen to the naysayers! Vote “Yes” on Measure G. It’s too important and good for Del Mar. We have enough elitism and property closed off to the public in Del Mar.

And don’t listen to the noise about Del Mar is “financially sound.” Del Mar couldn’t use new revenue generation, hotel and sales taxes? Del Mar needs new revenues for future improvements. Everybody knows that.

“Yes” on Measure G or we lose a great opportunity forever.

Lynn Kunkle

Del Mar

Crosswalk safety suggestion

I read an article in this newspaper a couple of weeks ago concerning a child that was crossing the road at Del Mar Heights Road/ Village Center Loop Road and Camel Valley Road and was struck by car.

I also navigate that intersection 1-3 times a day. During the school start/end times it is very congested with commuters, students and parents picking up and dropping their children off. I would suggest using a crosswalk system that is in use in Del Mar and Carlsbad. Stop all traffic from moving in all directions (including right on red) so that the pedestrians can cross. I think this will eliminate the risk for students and drivers.

Steve Pilarski

Carmel Valley

Feb. 27 issue:

Support Measure G: Great cities think and invest for the long term

As a resident of Del Mar I feel very strongly about and support Measure G. For over 30 years I have played volleyball on the beach in Del Mar, and currently most of my weekends are spent at the beach or frequenting restaurants and retailers in the City of Del Mar.

Great cities think and invest for the long term. Improving the city’s financials is important to allow residents to continue to enjoy this beautiful city well into the future.

Del Mar voters have an unprecedented and important decision to make on March 3. If Measure G is approved, Del Mar will realize significant new hotel, sales and property tax revenue opportunities, which will be used for future capital improvements. These improvements are needed in order to fund an older and aging infrastructure, parks and affordable housing.

Some may argue that Del Mar doesn’t need new revenue sources for future capital improvements and that the city’s finances are solid; however, according to the City’s Mid-Year Financial Report, Del Mar has very limited reserves for future needed capital improvements. The city has at least $683,000 in unfunded capital improvements in the coming year due to declining revenues, including: Shores Park Landscape Maintenance, Powerhouse Tot Lot, Infrastructure Sea Level Rise Impact Analysis, Stormwater Master Planning, Sewer and Pump Station Implementation and updating our Climate Action Plan.

Measure Q revenues, restricted by the voters for undergrounding, Shores Park and streetscape expenditures, will not meet the City’s needs for future capital improvements.

Del Mar is undertaking its Sixth Cycle Housing Element Update and facing the daunting task of finding locations and funds for providing affordable housing. With increased scrutiny from the State, Del Mar must direct all resources possible toward meeting the need for very-low, low- and moderate-income affordable housing.

Measure G should be carefully considered by all Del Mar voters. If Measure G fails, an opportunity to fund needed future infrastructure improvements and affordable housing will be lost.

John Frager,

Del Mar

Words have meaning; Vote ‘No’ on Measure G

Your reporter’s article in last week’s Del Mar Times (Feb. 20) included the sentence: “Del Mar’s Design Review Board, Planning Commission and City Council will not be able to weigh in on Marisol unless voters approve Measure G.”

This mistakenly gives the impression that unless Measure G is approved, City authorities will be barred from regulating the basic characteristics such as height and density (FAR) of any future development of the North Bluff area. In fact, just the opposite is true. If Measure G passes, both the Design Review Board and City Council will be precluded from any meaningful review or approval authority, under the California State Election Code. Words matter; don’t be misled.

If Measure G is approved, Del Mar’s approval authority will be severely restricted to determining whether the developer’s final building plan conforms to the specifications set out in the initiative’s underlying specific plan.

Voters should be aware that approval means that the city of Del Mar will essentially lose its review and approval authority for the properties on North Bluff.

John and Karen Morse

Del Mar residents

River Valley JPA votes to oppose Measure G

Last Friday, the San Dieguito River Valley JPA board voted to oppose the Marisol rezoning in Measure G as inconsistent with regional missions for the river and lagoon. The Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation found gross omissions in the draft EIR that evaluated the zoning change. Why the concern?

“The Marisol Specific Plan” is a developer Initiative written by the developer for the benefit of the developer. Without any public input or City review, it rewrites Del Mar’s Community Plan and deletes important protections for our natural bluffs and lagoon. These protections are permanently deleted for this plan or any future development on the North Bluff.

Our City Manager issued a “gag order” that has precluded any public discussion of the Initiative by the DRB, Planning Commission, Finance Committee or any others, including our residents. His expressed reason was that the City cannot be seen as an advocate for or against the Initiative. How can Del Mar residents vote without the important information necessary to make an informed decision?

Del Mar Municipal Code ensures that a coastal bluff top trail will be completed from Scripps Preserve to Border Ave at Solana Beach if any project is built on the bluff in the future. Current zoning prevents excavation, limits building heights to 14 feet on the south three-quarters of the bluff, and limits structures to one house per acre. The current code protects our beach, lagoon, bluff, public safety and public access.

How does Measure G rewrite our Community Plan? It deletes two bluff overlay zones designed to protect views of the beautiful, natural North Bluff from afar; it destroys the integrity of the fragile bluff and reduces public safety. It allows 46-foot building heights, a 408 underground parking garage, and a four-fold increase in bulk. Measure G inserts the developer’s text that explicitly allows any Specific Plan to override Del Mar’s small-scale community character protections found in our Design Review Ordinances and Guidelines.

This Initiative completely avoids our long-standing Del Mar vetting process, leaves our voting residents without the knowledge we need to make an informed decision, and terribly alters our Community Plan for the North Bluff, all for the interests of the developer.

We cannot let this happen! Protect our Community Plan and our quality of life. Please join me, Council Member Dave Druker and many other community leaders and residents: Vote “No” on Measure G.

Terry Gaasterland, Deputy Mayor

City of Del Mar

Measure G provides more positives than negatives

I’ve now been exposed to both the Yes on G and No on G campaigns for several months, and it’s finally time to choose. As I have observed the process, I’ve seen the signs, the protests, the news stories, and direct advocacy on both sides by our neighbors and community at large.

One stark difference I’ve noticed is the contrast in outlook between proponents and opponents. Those in favor of Measure G have a generally optimistic outlook about our city, its future and its prospects. The No on G folks are dismissive of the idea something new could improve our city and reflexively say no to any ideas of something new and exciting. They’re the same folks who fight every single addition or improvement, from L’Auberge decades ago to the Camino Del Mar streetscape improvements a couple of years ago. The beautiful bluff at the heart of this argument will be developed at some point in the future. It is important to me that beach access and public use are a part of the agreement and Measure G will provide that.

If you pay any attention to state housing politics and proposed affordability policies, I am sure you can agree that the future will only bring more density and potentially in a way that strips the local government of much of its control. With Del Mar commencing the update of its mandated housing element this spring do we really think this won’t be a prime target for the 20 units per acre minimum state standard now being expected of our coastal cities?

I personally don’t care about or need a hotel, but I’m intrigued by having more dining options and a new place to walk our dogs, as well as a new beach access point.

I’m casting my “Yes” vote with the people who believe in Del Mar and want to make it better.

Shawn Monteith

Del Mar resident and voter

March 5 issue:

Celebrating property, and a view, we saved together
“We saved this view together.”
That was the refrain Doug Gibson repeated again and again during the Feb. 22 dedication of Harbaugh Seaside Trails. Gibson, executive director and principal scientist of the Nature Collective, delivered his remarks from a brand new viewing deck.

To his back was a sweeping view of the ocean, the sunset and the San Elijo Lagoon. To his front, an upbeat crowd of about 200 people gathered to celebrate the opening of the 3.44-acre park. Between the guests and the deck hung a ceremonial, green ribbon, which I had the pleasure of helping to snip.

The goodwill and mutual congratulations brought closure to decades’ worth of clashes between preservationists and developers. Objections to one proposal, for an eight-story hotel, were a driving force behind the city’s incorporation in 1986. About 15 years ago, community opposition reignited as another developer brought still another hotel proposal to the fore.

All of that is in the rearview.

Ahead, varieties of 8,000 native plants planted by 400 volunteers will continue to take hold. More and more footsteps will cross the pathways that connect the city’s Coastal Rail Trail to the San Elijo Lagoon’s trail network.

We built the trails, saved the view and bought the property together.

As Doug Gibson explained, a $3.75 million capital campaign amassed 1,200 donations, from $9.28 in pennies from a child’s penny bank to $1.15 million in the grant we provided from the Harbaugh Foundation.

Our grant was one of the first and by far the largest to celebrate the legacy of the late George and Betty Harbaugh, native San Diegans who cherished the natural beauty of our region. A second open space endeavor, Harbaugh Seaside Parkway, is underway in the Cardiff-by-the-Sea community of Encinitas. Also central to our giving, and reflective of George Harbaugh’s service in the Air Force, is support for our military.

My family joined me during the dedication ceremonies. I can’t wait to bring our newest family member – my adorable grandson – for a stroll on Harbaugh Seaside Trails.
Joe Balla
Director, The Harbaugh Foundation

It was the right decision to vote in March on Measure G

I write this letter prior to the March 3 vote on Measure G so the outcome of the Marisol Initiative is not at issue. I want to emphasize to the community the importance of having the vote on the March ballot and not the November ballot despite the concerns of many in town held that not enough information nor time would be allotted to prepare for their vote.

I knew my community. I trusted that the three months would be enough time to learn about the Marisol issue. Why? Because we have a history of engagement on important issues and we are well educated and particularly interested in land use issues for Del Mar.

What I also knew was that Del Mar would not be better off with having nearly a year to argue the Marisol Initiative. Dragging on the exchanges on Facebook and emails would have led to prolonged anxiety and polarization. And what about the cost of all those ads in our postboxes?

Information was provided in a timely manner

As promised the community had the draft Environmental Impact Report by the end of December, two months prior to the vote. The Economic Impact Report for Marisol came out shortly thereafter and was online at the City website immediately. The League of Women’s Voters held a forum in January. A panel of both pro and con supporters answered two hours of questions from a packed audience at our Civic Center. That forum was televised for those who could not attend.

The Marisol developers held office hours, downtown with models and renderings to answer questions.
Finally, although the City of Del Mar was not allowed to support or oppose the Initiative our planning staff provided factual answers when they could on a Q&A webpage.

Many of my neighbors are relieved to have this vote behind them. They think that there was plenty of time to know the issue and now they want to move on. I believe fellow Council Members Ellie Haviland and Dwight Worden made the right decision to hold this election in March.

Sherryl Parks
Del Mar City Council member

Lost opportunity at DMUSD board meeting

What happened at last week’s board meeting should tell you a lot about Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD) trustees and leadership.

Twenty minutes into the meeting, after an earlier closed session, a trustee read from a prepared statement about an accusatory letter the district had received from lawyers, apparently on behalf of a client that preferred to remain anonymous, as is their right. Reading carefully crafted words at a carefully rehearsed pace, the trustee strung together a story that made it sound – not once, but twice – like Play Outside Del Mar had orchestrated all of it.

A lawyer himself, the trustee continued with how the district had none of the “nefarious intention” stated in the accusatory letter and had done none of the “secret” things alleged. Nonetheless, he said he’d personally rather scrap the entire $55 million school rebuild than spend “tons of money” in litigation. The other trustees sat silent, in apparent agreement.

Later on in the meeting, there was a call from the board for district staff to hunt down the lawyer’s client.
The evidence behind such a personal and public attack on me? Not a shred.

What a lost opportunity. We all came to the meeting to talk and hear about Rolf Silbert’s incredible Community Design #2, and the district buried it as a footnote in exchange for initiating a witch hunt.
If someone felt they had to send an anonymous letter to the district to escape retribution, retaliation, and outright public bullying by the district, then I’d say they nailed it. That’s sad, that some feel they have to go underground to criticize the district or hold them accountable.

By the way, later on in the meeting the district planner admitted there wasn’t even a threat of litigation in the letters. Why didn’t the district just post the letters on their website or pass them out at the meeting so the truth was revealed? Any member of the public has a legal right to them under the California Public Records Act.

I am working to get the right school built. Rolf’s design #2 is safer than the district’s plan for students, teachers, and staff – for canyon wildfires, traffic crossing, and air quality. It fully adopts the district’s facilities, preserves 80% of today’s fields, doubles the proposed blacktop, and increases “green space” by 25,000 square feet, 60,0000 more than the district design.

As the founder of Play Outside Del Mar, I have and will continue to stay true to our mission, without fear of the district or public retribution instigated by the district. Make no bones about it, I’ll advocate for Del Mar’s outdoor recreational play spaces for the kids of today and tomorrow with community service, honesty, and transparency as my guiding principles.

John Gartman
Play Outside Del Mar