Letters to the Editor/Opinion September, October 2020

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Sept. 3 issue:

One View:

Voting begins soon

By Gordon Clanton

Mail ballots for the Nov. 3 election will reach voters in the first week of October, less than a month from now.

Changing his advice amid the plague. Over many election cycles I have urged voters to hold their mail ballots until Election Day, arguing that last-minute developments might change their vote. I always enjoyed dropping my ballot off at my neighborhood polling place, celebrating a ritual of democracy, the smell of ballots in the morning.

But not this year. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, I’m unwilling to risk a visit to the polling place. So I will mail in my mail ballot. And because the Post Office may be slow, I will mail my ballot about 10 days before Election Day. This is the most consequential national election of my lifetime. I am determined that my vote be counted.

Do your homework. You are stuck at home, right. Why not invest heavily in the research required to be a better-informed voter and a useful resource for your family and friends. Ignore campaign mailers. Pay attention to endorsements. Use the internet to dig deeper. Because you cannot have coffee with candidates during the pandemic, tune in to their Zoom events. Follow up with phone calls.

What else can you do at this late date? Write a check. Use your card. You can donate to local candidates of your choice. You can support Joe Biden or Donald Trump. You can contribute to US Senate campaigns in states where the Senate majority will be determined: Arizona, Kentucky, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, and a few others. Money is the mother’s milk of politics.

Remembering Richard Rypinski. Richard died recently in Sacramento at age 90. He is survived by his former wife, Carol Mason of Del Mar.

Although he had not lived in Del Mar for many years, during the 1970s Richard was an early leader of the environmentalist reform movement in Del Mar politics. He served two terms on the Del Mar City Council, along with Tom Shepard, Nancy Hoover, Sage Sweetwood, and John Weare. This council was responsible for implementing the Del Mar Community Plan of 1976, acquiring much of Del Mar’s Open Space and Parks properties, adopting the Design Review Ordinance, and other significant reforms.

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

Sept. 10 issue:

Guest column:

An important question to consider

By Nicole Forrest

What is a crime? Depends on who you are.

But, first, let’s remember that we are in the middle of a pandemic. Businesses have shuttered, the economy plummeted, and unemployment soaring. Our saving grace here in Del Mar is a nearly perfect climate. The city let out a collective sigh when the beaches reopened. I’ve never seen so many surfers in the waves. Every evening, there is now a parade of neighbors strolling our blocks. We value nature. We appreciate the mental, physical, and daresay spiritual benefits of fresh air.

Now, let’s turn to our children. For months, they have been stripped of their classrooms and classmates, their athletics and their arts. For those returning to school, supply lists now include masks, shields, and fanny packs equipped with hand sanitizers, cough drops, and tissues. Our children, walking biohazards.

So, you can imagine how relieved parents and children are when the kids take off on their bikes and head to the playground. The little taste of freedom, the silver lining, the stuff a summer should be made of. Here, in our neighborhood, the playgrounds are the schools.

If you can imagine children swinging and riding their bikes with the confidence of independence, you might be shocked to learn that you could be committing a crime.

For the last few weeks, a marked police cruiser with an armed officer has been stationed in the parking lot of the Del Mar Heights School. First, we noticed the circling of the lot and then the waiting for hours. Friends and neighbors texted. What was happening? Was there something going on that we should know about? Finally, I asked. The officer explained that the campus is private property, a closed campus, that neighbors were not permitted to enter. However, she assured me that she would turn a blind eye to some parents with their kids but really was out for the kids who come to the school to play and to climb.

Well, really.

You see. What is a crime? It depends on who you are.

This is discretionary policing. And it is dangerous. What she is saying is that, if you look the part, if you look safe, then you can use the campus without her bothering you. If you don’t, you’re going to have a problem.

Who doesn’t look the part? Is it the group of unmasked teen girls running through the meadow-like grass and taking glamour shots for their social media? Is it the dad who climbed over the fence to fly a kite with his young daughter? Or, is it the group of boys on their first bike ride alone? Who climb, like all kids do, to eat candy in a secret spot? Or, is it a Black child who is wearing a mask? [say his name: Elijah McClain] Or, is it a Black child who looks like he just might have a gun in his hand? [say his name: Tamir Rice ]. See. I have never spotted the police on the other side of Mira Montana where young kids gather in the back of cars to smoke or to reenact a song by John Mellencamp. Instead, they are at schools. Militarizing and terrorizing our youth who are already isolated. Who have already had to live through active shooter drills. Who are children. Who might be approached by an officer with a gun.

What is a crime? Is it a school district who violates the Brown Act, tries to avoid environmental laws, and distorts data to justify unjustifiable costs? Who closes a school and a field in the middle of a pandemic for both education and recreation? Who creates blight in the first place with their failures and delays? Who finds it entertaining to auction off the right to graffiti the school? Who wastes taxpayers money and resources in a time of fiscal crisis by stationing police outside of a school to prevent children from playing? Who doesn’t realize that happy faces and play keep crime at bay and that there are civil and nonviolent ways to protect against liability and danger?

What is a crime? It depends on who you are. If you are in power, perhaps a leader, maybe a crime isn’t a crime. And your consequence is a pay raise and a bonus. But, if you are a boy on a bike. If you are my Black child on a bike at school, playing could be a crime and the consequence could be death.

— Nicole Forrest is a resident of Olde Del Mar

Letters:

The affordable housing hammer to drop on Del Mar

With Tuesday’s City Council rezone vote failing, Del Mar has officially breached its 2013 promise to the state to rezone the North Commercial area to be a mix of residential and commercial to allow for affordable housing development. Del Mar has now officially stepped off the precipice into a dark unknown future of lost local control over zoning, with costly state and affordable housing advocate lawsuits lurking.

Residents deserved more — a decision based upon real facts and risks as opposed to the alternative facts advanced by the two reckless “no” votes of council members Druker and Gaasterland. As a member of the recently concluded 6th Cycle Housing Element Ad-Hoc Task Force, I heard many falsehoods, including by some that also served on the task force.

Had the rezone of North Commercial passed, the parameters would not have resulted in 280 condos to be built, as alleged. The 15.7 acres in North Commercial is mostly already developed parcels, and the unchanged Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 30% is just not profitable for developers to build at large scale, even with density bonuses for affordable housing. Additionally, nearly a third of the acreage is un-developable wetland owned by the railroad authority. Plus any new development projects would have gone through the usual design review and environmental process for community input. This was a rezone not an actual project.

One consequence of this rezone failing and our 5th Cycle Housing Element being decertified is a developer will now have the ability to sue the state to build the residences at the 20 units per acre density in North Commercial Del Mar promised the state anyway but now bypassing our usual design review and planning commission process.

Del Mar can’t switch out state-mandated zoning and substitute Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), Fairgrounds housing, and a sprinkling of tiny homes on city property. The voted-down zoning change was required but also insufficient — we need that rezoning plus ADUs, plus the Fairgrounds and more to have any chance at staving off state intervention and additional loss of local control.

As but one example, we must also develop Fairgrounds housing if Del Mar wants to retain the control needed to prevent rezoning vacant land that is .5 acres or larger (AB 1397) — necessary to prevent state-mandated rezoning of North Bluff and South Bluff at higher density.

With so many people in our region in need of affordable housing, it’s shameful what has happened. Del Mar residents display Black Lives Matter signs while we continue to erect invisible walls.

Jill Gartman

Del Mar

Affordable housing in Del Mar a legal requirement

Our state is in the midst of a housing crisis and has mandated that every California municipality must show progress in providing more affordable housing. It is not a choice; it is a legal requirement. Failure to do so will result in serious penalties and consequences. Del Mar’s City Council had a chance on Sep. 8 to vote on zoning amendments that would satisfy the state and help Del Mar achieve the worthy goal of increased affordable housing. However, the amendments required a super-majority vote and unfortunately Councilmembers Dave Druker and Terry Gaasterland decided to block the amendments with their “no” votes. Their actions are in direct contradiction of the central tenets of the Del Mar Community Plan: the carefully honed planning and design review ordinances that have guided Del Mar’s development since the late 1970s.

The zoning amendments were recommended by the professional staff after long and thorough research, and had unanimous approval from the Planning Commission and many citizens. But two councilmembers put their own political ambitions and cronyism ahead of their obligations to the Community Plan and the long-term well-being of the City of Del Mar. Their misbegotten votes will needlessly cost Del Mar a lot of money, and ultimately could result in a devastating loss of local control of real estate development that has been such a hallmark for so long.

Anne Farrell

Del Mar

Alarming consequences possible

Eight years ago when I was on the Del Mar housing task force, Dave Druker, Pam Slater, and Hershell Price in a public workshop declared unequivocally their support for 20 units per acre on the Jimmy Durante Drive parcels. The City Council adopted that recommendation in amending the Community Plan and it was certified by the state. Now as a council member, Dave Druker, along with Terry Gaasterland, is blocking implementation of that element of the Community Plan thereby reneging on our commitment to the state. This will likely trigger alarming consequences including loss of local control over land use decisions in that North Commercial district and loss of grant funds.

We need them to be more responsible leaders.

Bud Emerson

Del Mar

Carbon pricing bill

People can walk and chew gum at the same time! At least that’s what a new survey shows. Great news. Because if we only focus on the current pandemic, we’ll be behind on all the other crises brewing in our midst. I was heartened to hear that climate change, not just the pandemic, is a high priority for voters and that 25% of the population feel this issue is extremely important to them personally. Now we just have to solve the dang thing. That’s why I support the legislation that is foundational to all climate legislation and supported overwhelmingly by economists: a price on carbon. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act has 82 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. This carbon pricing bill is market based (good for conservatives) and revenue neutral (appealing to progressives). So let’s get walking. . . and chewing also!

Judy Berlfein

Encinitas

Sept. 17 issue:

Seeking common sense solutions

Up-zoning the flood-prone North Commercial zone to enable up to 280 residential units is not the solution to Del Mar’s housing challenges. Nor are the fragile North and South Bluffs.

The last open and underdeveloped spaces in Del Mar are open for a reason. They are vulnerable, fragile bluff, wetland and canyon — prone to erosion, flood and wildfire — protected by our Community Plan. These are not the spaces to turn into high-density housing or resorts.

Eight years ago, voters overwhelmingly rejected the 2012 Village Specific Plan with its high density, increased building heights, and traffic bottlenecks downtown. Planners were counting on that plan to fulfill the 2013 state-mandated housing assignment of 22 affordable homes. So they and the council had to find an alternative quickly.

In a rush, with little time to evaluate consequences, the 2013 council made a terrible promise. They agreed to add high-density residential use to all 16 acres of the North Commercial district by 2015. That up-zone never happened. So Del Mar fell out of compliance 5 years ago in 2015.

What changed during 2015 to 2020? We studied increased risks of flooding and wildfire due to climate change. I chaired the Sea Level Rise Committee (STAC), the same group of citizens who determined Managed Retreat is not an option for private homes in Del Mar. STAC determined in 2018 the best protections for our fragile wetlands was to ensure future open space for upland migration, including spaces in the North Commercial zone.

Moreover, we all realize wildfire risk is worsening each year. If the Crest Canyon tinderbox ever lights up, evacuation with the current density will be a challenge. The homes along San Dieguito and Oribia have one exit: through the Jimmy Durante Traffic Circle.

Had North Commercial up-zone passed last week, in the 11th hour of the 8-year housing cycle, we would have placed all those homes at increased wildfire danger, cemented year-round traffic snarls, and eliminated future protective spaces for wetlands.

Voting No on the North Commercial up-zone was the only credible choice for all these reasons.

What are the alternatives? Our citizens Housing Task Force spent the first half of 2020 studying how to absorb the 22 affordable homes assigned in 2013 and the additional 101 assigned in 2020. They found ways: Distribute the homes throughout Del Mar among many existing small private and city-owned lots. Add some residential units downtown. Add Accessory Dwelling Units in Residential zones sensibly. Work with Fairgrounds to place homes on its 330 acres. Use Tiny Houses where appropriate. Protect our fragile coastal bluffs and wetlands. Read the plan here: https://tinyurl.com/dmhousing.

That is the solution – distribute them throughout Del Mar, consistent with our Community Plan and work with the Fairgrounds. Let’s make affordable housing happen.

Terry Gaasterland, PhD

Deputy Mayor, Del Mar

A better plan and nothing to fear

Something important happened at the Del Mar City Council meeting on Sept. 8. The council voted unanimously to up-zone the downtown Professional Commercial zone. We were told this enabled 5 affordable housing units but in a follow-up on Monday, Sept. 14 with the city’s principal planner she stated that none of these rezoned units would count for the prior “5th Cycle” housing planning period. She had earlier stated the up-zone was crucial to avoid penalties from the state. According to staff, they won’t count for the next “6th Cycle” either so why did we do the rezone?

Del Mar’s principal planner further stated the three units from the 941 Project, which we were earlier told counted in 5th Cycle and reduced the mandated 22 affordable units to 19, do not count after all because the project has yet to receive needed permits. At least, they will count in the 6th Cycle.

We must remember the scramble back in 2013. “Our staff was very anxious,” stated Sherryl Parks at the recent council meeting. “We had limited time to revise that plan a plan that would prove that Del Mar was serious.” In that scramble, the staff and council promised the state that they would add high-density residential use to both the North Commercial and the Professional Commercial zones.

Over the ensuing 8 years, the city did not do that — and fell out of compliance in 2015. Now, it seems the same scramble is happening again with much misinformation and miscommunication – even council members don’t have the correct information. Why??

Councilmember Druker and Deputy Mayor Gaasterland provided alternatives at the Sept. 8 meeting for sensible solutions. The other three councilmembers refused to accept their compromise and rejected a constructive amendment from the planning director to move the process forward. A compromise would have approved a smaller plan that could then be presented to HCD — a path HCD said was possible in their July 2020 letter to the city. However, now it seems that even if the NC had been approved, it would not have produced any affordable units, and the carryover is being allocated to the 6th Cycle.

We spent over 600 hours seeking to understand the various programs and laws governing the Housing Element while authoring a document with comprehensive and creative ideas to meet the city’s next 8-year Housing Element mandate. A tiny city of two square miles with scant undeveloped property must be conservative and wise. We found solutions. We expect our elected officials to get to the truth and then craft a better plan for Del Mar.

Jas Grewal, Chair; Tracy Martinez, Vice Chair; Karen Lare, Secretary

6th Cycle Housing Element Ad-hoc Citizens’ Housing Task Force, Del Mar

Del Mar Housing Element: PEIR brushes over real issues

Last Friday I was mentioned in a letter from Bud Emerson as having supported 20 units per acre zoning in 2012 for the Professional Commercial zone and the North Commercial zone. He presented it as a blanket statement. It was not. Of course proper planning necessitates detailed analysis and careful consideration of all environmental and public safety concerns as well as impacts to existing infrastructure and subsequent legislation over the past 8 years.

The PEIR did not properly address very real concerns and the designation of 20 units per acre for the entire North Commercial as opposed to zoning smaller parcels to address specific current needs. We see the terrifying images and body counts on our screens daily from the terrible fires throughout the state. Crest Canyon directly abuts the Oribia and San Dieguito neighborhoods. They have one ingress/egress road, San Dieguito. The traffic circle regularly stops during high traffic events. Escape from a fast moving wild fire would be impossible. This area is designated as extreme high fire risk on the CalFire maps. This was not allowed at the County of San Diego and certainly should not be allowed here.

Sea level rise has now been addressed by the city council. The wetlands areas and flood zones in this area preclude massive redevelopment. This is designated a “spillover area” in the Sea Level Rise documents. It’s is beyond foolish to place high density housing here. Again the PEIR brushes over this very real issue.

Pam Slater-Price

Del Mar

Response to letters regarding North Commercial Rezone

Recent allegations have charged Councilmembers Gaasterland and Druker of recklessly voting against rezoning the north commercial district. Those allegations are patently misleading. The allegations conveniently fail to mention that Dwight Worden, Sherryl Parks, and Ellie Haviland summarily rejected Druker and Gaasterland’s compromises. Druker proposed rezoning the area to commercial/residential but without mandating 20 units per acre. Gaasterland noted that rezoning only a few lots could achieve the state-mandated housing requirement. Those reasonable compromises would have achieved the desired goal—meeting the housing requirement — while respecting the concerns of the Del Martians who live in that area. In my opinion, it was unquestionably reckless for Worden, Parks, and Haviland to fail to compromise, to blindly promote mass development without considering the costs to the citizens whom they supposedly represent. On the other hand, it was not reckless but admirable that Druker and Gaasterland defended the community plan, protected the citizens’ concerns, and advocated for responsible, well-reasoned development.

Noah Gaarder-Feingold

Del Mar

A reasonable housing compromise denied

At the Del Mar City Council Meeting on Sept. 8, the three council majority members insisted, or should I say, demanded, that the North Commercial Zone be changed to include residential zoning at 20 units per acre so that our state-mandated affordable housing of 22 units can be fulfilled. To do that, they want to re-zone the entire North Commercial Zone which will produce around 280 housing units in that already constricted area next to the traffic circle. Who in Del Mar would ever be in favor of such an unnecessary up-zone to 280 units?

To do so, a 4-vote super-majority would be needed to change the Community Plan. That was something council member Dave Druker and Deputy Mayor Terry Gaasterland could not accept and so they voted “No.” Druker offered a reasonable compromise to modify the zoning to Residential/Commercial, but less than 20 units per acre. The “majority three” would not accept that and turned him down. Gaasterland made a compelling case for the rezone of just a few lots in that area but the “majority three” again said “No.” Their way or nothing at all.

The city staff and the three majority council members have done everything they can to convince our residents that the high-density residential re-zone of North Commercial is the only alternative, when in fact they know that is not true. The Housing Task Force worked together for over four months to produce their report that made clear the rezone was not necessary to produce the required affordable housing units, but city staff completely disregarded their report.

Del Mar is a small town and cannot support 280 units in the North Commercial area.

Hershell Price

Del Mar

Joint use now for Del Mar Heights School and Del Mar Hills Academy

Del Mar Heights school property is closed and guarded by an armed police officer. Del Mar Hills Academy’s playgrounds are restricted to the paid After School Program. Where are the parks my tax dollars are supposed to provide? My kids have been barely holding it together for the last six months, and it was bad enough earlier when these tax-funded “private properties” were closed for public health reasons. Why lock off an unused field and playground?? For what purpose?? During a pandemic when the only reason the playgrounds are unused is because DMUSD didn’t follow the law? We pay for this space, we need our playgrounds. Please, guarantee your tax-paying constituents the right to play in what little open space we have. Do not let the mistakes of the school district further harm the children they have a responsibility to benefit. Your youngest constituents need play space. Joint use now.

Kimberly Hiland Belding

Del Mar Heights resident

Help save historic treasure in Del Mar

Thirty years ago a group of Del Mar citizens, including Ann Dempsey, myself and Suren Dutia, joined together to save the Ten Eyck house, one of the few remaining homes from Del Mar’s founding in the 1880s. Mr. Dutia was the owner of the house on 11th St. and planned to build a new home on the property. When we were unable to find a home for the house in Del Mar, the city allowed it to be placed temporarily on the property where City Hall was located. The house was later moved to Vulcan Ave. in Leucadia where the Ten Eyck house is now a treasured home (see photo at bottom).

This is the solution many of Del Mar’s citizens are seeking once again. This time it is for the last remaining Jacob Taylor cottage from the 1880s, the Dunham house, located at 119 10th St. in the historic heart of Del Mar. This beautiful house needs to be moved by Oct. 1. The owner has pledged funding to accomplish the move to save the historic house.

We need the city to agree to place the compact (28 ft. x 34 ft.) house on one of two city properties -- either Area C on 10th St. next to the City Hall parking garage entrance, or in a corner of the Winston School’s front parking lot on 9th St. The neighbors and Winston School community support this location. See SaveDelMarHistory.com for further information.

Please share your support for saving this historic treasure with the Del Mar City Council before their upcoming meeting on Sept. 21!

Linda Castile

Neighbor and Chair of Dunham House Campaign

Ten Eyck house
Ten Eyck house
(Courtesy)

Sept. 24 issue:

A ‘no’ vote for North Commercial rezone sets Del Mar in limbo with affordable housing efforts

I was on the Del Mar City Council in 2013 when the 5th Cycle Housing Element was adopted and placed in the Community Plan. This vote was significant because Del Mar failed to have its draft 5th Cycle accepted by the state and staff and council were anxious that a plan would not be designed in time and in compliance with state law.

Under pressure the city returned to the drawing board and hired a new consultant who knew how to design a program the state would accept. Working closely with the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) we were able to add elements into our plan and this included the rezone of the North Commercial and Professional Commercial zones to 20 units/acre.

The council voted unanimously to accept the 5th Cycle Housing Element Plan and, importantly, it was voted into the Community Plan as an amendment adhering to one of the major goals of our Community Plan. (Goal 3D: “Preserve existing and insure adequate housing for diverse age and socio-economic groups within the community.”)

The planning staff and council breathed a collective sigh of relief knowing we had dodged a bullet with the state with a certified Housing Element allowing Del Mar eight years to find ways to implement the promises made in the 5th Cycle.

Jumping to 2020, at the Sept. 8 City Council meeting David Druker and Terry Gaasterland voted to reject the North Commercial amendment thus placing the 5th Cycle out of compliance with state law, and inconsistent with the Community Plan as amended in 2013. This vote was taken despite the warnings of severe consequences. Also, the 6th Cycle Housing Plan would not likely move forward to the November due date.

The two council members who opposed the rezone promised to find “creative alternatives” that would substitute for the rezone they just rejected. They seriously did not understand the big picture and relied falsely on the belief the Del Mar Fairgrounds will/can provide the affordable housing, that ADU (Accessory Dwelling Units) owners will begin restricting their ADUs for lower income households, and that developing small bits of public property, like our water towers and the tennis court, will pencil out to 113 affordable units. Simply counting units is short sighted and ignores the planning actions required by the state to create and maintain adequate sites for affordable housing.

Where does it leave Del Mar now? Waiting for a letter from HCD. Will they accept “creative alternatives” as imagined by some council members? Will they penalize the city with fines or increased numbers of housing units? In the future will they trust Del Mar to do what we promise? For right now we are in limbo and it doesn’t feel good.

Sherryl L. Parks

Del Mar City Council member

HCD formulas biased against Del Mar

California’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) formulas are broken and biased against Del Mar. Their “double-counting” flaws reported this week added at least 33% to Del Mar’s affordable housing allocation. SANDAG then unfairly used almost 2,000 temporary and seasonal jobs at the Fairgrounds to increase Del Mar’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) by 50% to include 113 “affordable”, low-income units.

There is an even deeper flaw:

The HCD process only counts affordable units if they are “deed restricted” and created by “new” development. Thus, there is no incentive to preserve existing unofficial affordable housing currently occupied by lower income households. Unfortunately, this endangers existing affordable rental housing as it is destroyed through new development which displaces current low income tenants.

Del Mar’s 6th Cycle Housing Element shows that there are 510 low-income households (22.6% of total households) who live primarily in rental housing despite the city having no “deed restricted” affordable housing units. Many are renters of units that are non-conforming according to current zoning.

A prime example are the inexpensive rental units in duplexes and triplexes in zones that now only allow single-family housing. Previously, they were allowed when they were built over 30 years ago. As a result, this inexpensive rental housing is being increasingly replaced by single-family homes. Further, because they are not “deed restricted”, they don’t count toward Del Mar’s affordable housing.

Del Mar’s planning staff dismissed the recommendation made to the Planning Commission to preserve these existing affordable multi-family rental units by adding them back as an allowed use. Why? Because HCD does not count them as “affordable” because they aren’t new development nor deed restricted! Tell that to the hundreds of low-income renters in Del Mar living in these multi-family units increasingly threatened by new development.

Laura DeMarco

33-year Del Mar resident

Now is the time to advocate for solutions

With California wildfires in the forefront, it is readily apparent that climate scientists’ predictions of drier conditions in the West are coming to pass. Wildfires and their smoke are not new to us; it’s their ever-increasing magnitude that will test our resilience.

Disinformation and denial are being overcome by current events. The fires, exacerbated by decades of greenhouse gas pollution, are leaving their indelible mark. There is time, ever shortening, to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Several bills introduced in Congress price carbon, a powerful solution driven by the U.S. economy that would jump-start our nation’s transition to carbon-free energy. Among them is a revenue neutral option: H.R. 763 prices carbon and returns the proceeds to the American people in a dividend. Now is the time to advocate for solutions that address the damage caused by a warming world.

Susan Tamura

San Diego

Action is imperative

Recent news and press coverage of the fires show how horrific events can become the opportunity to act. We see that sometimes one event, or a series of events, can start a movement that has the potential to bring about real change. And so it may be with the fires in the West. Will there be enough suffering, enough loss of lives and property, enough economic damage, enough outrage, enough “enough is enough” to spark a massive movement?

Action is imperative. We must get to work, continue our work and remain hopeful. We need to ramp up our efforts as this may finally be the time when public opinion, and therefore the actions of our representatives, changes. Please consider joining a group, like Citizens Climate Lobby or others, that work tirelessly and effectively toward ending climate change.

Susan Kobara

Carlsbad

Oct. 1 issue:

Self-inflicted misery

On Sept. 8, Del Mar City Council majority (Haviland/Worden/Parks) expressed outrage on the failure of the proposed amendment up-zone to the complete North Commercial area for multi-residential units. It was this council’s 11th-hour jam down attempt after years and years of neglecting the Affordable Housing issue. The next morning, their supporters expressed their outrage in emails instilling fear in town about the five different penalties the City of Del Mar could now face and how our rights were going to be taken away by the State of California.

What they failed to tell us was that the city has been in default since 2015 and knew penalties would be assessed at the end of the 5th Housing element cycle on June 29, 2020 and these additional penalties could happen in 4 years. To cover their own failure, they decided to fool us good people and use the tactic of deflecting by pointing fingers, expressing outrage and instilling fear of penalties. For five years the issue was not satisfied because of poor planning and failed bets on Propositions J and G.

For 16 years (4th and 5th Housing Element Cycles), the city councils made commitments to the state to produce affordable housing. They did not prioritize and allocate resources to meet this responsibility. The first 8 years, they produced zero units and in the last 8 years, they produced only 1 out of 22 affordable units. What happened? A lot of time and energy by the council majority was diverted to their favorite projects; advocating Managed Retreat, nepotism, starting an energy company, stringing along Shores Park improvements only to include it in this mess, creating lawsuits rendering no benefit for our community -- just a lot of wasted resources.

Further, knowing the city’s dismal record and that we already faced penalties, instead of providing leadership to mitigate the penalties for the 5th housing cycle, Mayor Haviland and her majority refused to challenge the job numbers for the 6th housing cycle. These numbers are four times larger than the last housing cycle and are false – Mayor Haviland knew it and ignored it.

Council must address their failure of their own making in order to move us forward by advocating with the state to achievable solutions at hand. There are options available without rezoning for massive development that they are intentionally dismissing. Why?

Gala Yayla,

Del Mar

Rezoning our tennis courts and Shores Park to residential? Really?

On Monday, Oct. 5, the Del Mar City Council will review the proposed 8-year planning document (“Housing Element”) to be submitted to the state on how we will meet the affordable housing RHNA numbers allocated to us over the next 8 years.

The ad hoc Citizen’s 6th Cycle Housing Element Task Force and the public were informed by Joseph Smith, planning director, that their menu of options would be presented to council, and then council would make the final selection of options to include in the document after hearing public input. Yet, this did not happen -- not at any of the city council meetings since June that several of us listened to. What happened to their options? They seem to have vanished into thin air. So, who actually made the policy decisions for this important document which will either enhance our community or impact it negatively with significant development? It appears that the Housing Element has either been written solely by staff or directed behind the scenes by the three-person council majority, and once again residents will not get to review all of the possible options (as proposed by the citizens’ task force). Hence, residents’ voices are on a path to be ignored.

Our form of city government requires that the authority to make policy rests with the city council. The city manager is directed to implement and execute policy and the related work of running the city services. In past years, City Manager Scott Huth and city staff, created the policies and presented to council who pretty much rubber stamped the policies. We saw this over and over again. The process seems to be continuing with our new city manager and staff. Why is our city council not making policy decisions and exercising the authority we residents expect? Who represents the residents’ interests?

Lastly, did you know that once the Housing Element is approved, it automatically becomes part of the Community Plan?

Mass rezoning of Public Facilities (PF Zone) such as the tennis courts and The Shores Park to residential is happening. And rezoning the downtown commercial area as well is not in-line with our Community Plan. Beware! Once this Housing Element is approved, it will automatically become part of the Community Plan! Further, they are pushing for mass development under the guise of affordable housing. We hope our residents are smart enough not to let the slick rhetoric disguised in sheep’s clothing fool them! Make your voice heard at council on Monday before it is too late.

Terri Pavelko

Del Mar

Oct. 8 issue:

Black Lives Matter sign theft

Three weeks ago, we were surprised to see that someone had stolen a “Black Lives Matter” sign that we proudly displayed at the entrance to our home. Fortunately, thanks to the generosity of a neighbor, we were soon able to replace the stolen sign. Recently, the second sign was stolen.

Who would do such a thing? Somehow, we don’t think it was someone who supports the cause and wanted the sign for themselves. Was it an errant child? An adolescent prankster? Or was it someone old enough to know better, yet sufficiently callous and cowardly to remain an ignorant bigot?

It seems that we are not alone in having our constitutional rights violated. Indeed, we understand that many others in Del Mar report that their own “Black Lives Matter” signs have similarly disappeared.

What next in our city? Proud Boy marches? White robes and hoods?

John and Anne Farrell

Del Mar

Kudos to DMUSD!

There is a bright spot in this very challenging time that we should all be very proud of, the Del Mar Union School District. Superintendent Holly McClurg has shown incredible leadership, commitment, creativity and tenacity in getting our students back in the classroom. The DMUSD Board of Trustees as well as all of our incredible teachers, truly put students’ overall health and well-being first in their planning, and I, for one, am very grateful. Families throughout the district were given the choice to attend full time in-person or full time online. Students have been back in-person for over a month now, and students in both programs are thriving!

The fiscal responsibility shown by our district prior to the pandemic allowed them the resources needed to adapt to current health guidelines, and ensure appropriate safety measures could be followed. We are all lucky to have such committed and passionate educators choosing to persevere despite the challenges and adaptations needed. Thank you to Superintendent McClurg, the DMUSD Board of Trustees and all the teachers and staff throughout the district who have demonstrated what a truly exceptional public school district is capable of, even in the most challenging of times!

Lani Curtis

Del Mar resident and parent to one DMUSD student and two SDUHSD students

Del Mar violating court order and Coastal Act

50 years ago my family fell in love with Del Mar while vacationing in one of North Beach’s many short term rentals (STR). We could afford to live in Del Mar on an elementary school teacher’s salary through STR income.

In fact, Del Mar Community Plan Taskforce members Ivo and Rosalind Feierabend and Galen and Terri Pavelko also offered STRs (“transient housing”) that were included in the voter-approved Community Plan in 1976. The Taskforce’s Land Use Committee had previously rejected discouraging STRs in residential zones. The Coastal Commission approved the Plan as STRs offer coastal access in accordance with the Coastal Act.

Despite this long history and the objections of 500 residents, Dwight Worden led the council majority to adopt a new zoning code “interpretation” that STRs are not allowed and banned them to 28 days/year with 7-day minimums. The Coastal Commission rejected this ban as neighboring Solana Beach allows STRs all year with 7-day minimums through a strict permitting process in which Good Neighbor policy violators are shut down.

Fiscally stronger Solana Beach enacted their STR ordinance 17 years ago with wide community support and Coastal Commission approval. As a result, Solana Beach has collected $3,000,000 in STR TOT revenue.

Instead of emulating Solana Beach, the Council majority voted to try to implement their STR ban by suing the Coastal Commission. The court dismissed Del Mar’s lawsuit which cost the City $180,000. The City wasted another $300,000+ on litigation as Coastal Act advocate Cory Briggs successfully challenged the city’s new “interpretation” of the zoning code disallowing STRs, the STR ban, and Public Records Act deficiencies. The court rejected the city’s arguments and “decreed... that Resolution 2017-29 (interpretation) is declared to be invalid and legally unenforceable.”

Thankfully, the Council unanimously voted to not waste more money appealing these court decisions. However, Del Mar continues to enforce its “invalid and legally unenforceable” STR ordinance. This violates the court’s order and exposes Del Mar to more litigation and significant damage claims.

Del Mar should follow Solana Beach‘s pragmatic approach. That’s better than violating a court order and the Coastal Act or wasting another $500,000 for litigation on a STR ban that costs Del Mar millions in future tax revenue. STR TOT revenue could pay for unfunded priority projects like undergrounding dangerous overhead power lines and sand replenishment to protect our eroding beaches and bluffs.

Eric Charnholm

Del Mar

Oct. 15 issue:

Keep local control: Vote ‘No’ on Proposition S

If you haven’t already voted, please be sure to get your ballot in soon – it will greatly assist the County in getting all of the votes counted in a timely manner! Also, if you live in Solana Beach, I ask that you vote No on Proposition S.

Proposition S is an Initiative authored by outside business interests looking to make a quick buck in Solana Beach. If adopted, this measure will add 33 pages of new regulations to our City codes, none of which will be possible to change without another public vote. These regulations will dictate how and where marijuana dispensaries may operate in our City and eliminates local control on those decisions.

I have had the honor of serving Solana Beach residents and businesses on the City Council for almost eight years now. In that time, I have not had anyone complain to me about their difficulty in obtaining marijuana. I have also not had anyone tell me that they wish there was a dispensary down the street from them. I do frequently get concerns expressed to me on various topics, typically including traffic and safety related issues. One of the better aspects of being a Councilmember is being able to react to and address these concerns, while improving our City for everyone. On the flip side, it’s extremely frustrating when I have to let my constituents know that I am unable to help because my hands are tied due to outside forces. If passed, this measure will prevent your local elected officials, such as myself, from taking steps to address issues created by the proposed uses and regulations.

The out-of-town proponents of this initiative promote in their ballot argument the potential additional city services that could be funded through the 1.25% “sales” tax they stipulated in their measure. To demonstrate how misleading this measure can be consider the following: the tax does not apply to sales with a medical marijuana card; the City Attorney in her Impartial Analysis noted that the tax, as written by the authors, is likely not enforceable; and lastly, in order to fund a single additional Sheriff Deputy during the 15 hours of permitted operation per day these businesses would have to generate nearly $40 million in annual taxable sales. Yikes.

I encourage everyone to read the Impartial Analysis written by the City Attorney which is available in your sample ballot as well as on the city website. The issues created by this measure are clearly evident in that analysis. Please vote to keep local control, please vote No on Proposition S.

David Zito

Councilmember, City of Solana Beach

Pro Measure S sign spelling says it all

Regarding Measure S — the initiative on the ballot that intends to eliminate local regulation and provide a special business allowance for marijuana dispensaries in Solana Beach, I was walking through town recently and noticed that Measures S financial backers have now placed campaign signs encouraging us to vote “Yes.”

Courtesy
(Courtesy)

I had to laugh at the fact that the proponents misspelled the name of our marvelous little beach town on their sign. Irony so thick that you can cut it with a knife: folks who want us to slice local controls so they can set up pot shops can’t concentrate long enough to proof read their campaign sign (see photo above).

If you can’t even spell “Solana” correctly you’ve proven: 1) that you don’t live here; and 2) you definitely don’t deserve our vote.

Kind regards and I strongly support proper spelling as well as a “No” vote on S.

Nancy McDaniel King

Solana Beach

Del Mar Heights rebuild: Drop the lawsuit

For anyone who is new to the conflict over the rebuild of Del Mar Heights Elementary, let me help make things clear. The design process was open, fluid and fair. Any community member who wished to could sit at the table with the architects themselves over the course of a year, and have their ideas be heard. During this process, the areas of concern, unanimously echoed were: increasing the usable learning area, modernizing our MUR, classrooms and lunch area to meet current building standards, and addressing traffic and parking issues. In response to some who felt that the field size was being cut too much, the size was increased twice, to the point where the entire building footprint was moved. Since then the Save the Field group has feigned concern over wildfire danger, air pollution and is now pressuring city attorneys and other officials to treat our private school property like a public city park. Schools can be a responsibly shared community resource, but this insulting lawsuit is anything but responsible. This is a hostage situation, and the teachers and students of the Heights are the hostages.

The original plaintiffs in the Save the Field lawsuit sent their children to Del Mar Heights, where our “Heights Family” of teachers gave them everything they needed to feel empowered, supported and safe. We love our students! Let’s get down to the bare thread of what happens if this lawsuit goes forward:

1. The students will likely have to stay in temporary host schools for an extra year. Eventually, remote students from all 3 will be trying to return to school in person. We need our school to return to!

2. The school bond will be bled thin by litigation costs, leaving less money for the other 7 Del Mar schools to make needed renovations and improvements.

3. Teachers will be forced to take involuntary transfers, some newer teachers will not be rehired, while resource aide support, afterschool childcare and budgeting for school materials will be adversely affected.

The current school design was approved by a unanimous school board vote, and has the support of 100% of the Del Mar Heights teachers and staff, and all 8 DMUSD PTAs. This is now personal and affects the health and livelihood of the people who work at the Heights. We are finished tolerating this debacle. Do not be fooled by the rhetoric of the people who are willing to sue the kids under the guise of “Saving the Field”. One of the litigants has stated publicly in a board meeting “I know the teachers and the district have the best interests of the kids at heart”. Show some decency and drop this lawsuit immediately if you have any gratitude at all for the free public education they received, from us, to you.

Coach Ian Phillip

Del Mar Heights School

We need our field and a new school

We, our families, our community are a microcosm of the whole of humanity. What we do, the decisions we make around what we value matter.

At this poignant moment in history when nature’s and human needs are visibly unmet, we are being asked to act on what matters.

Universal Human Needs for development and well-being are synonymous with survival, safety, connection, to be seen and heard, to matter, to expand, to learn, to contribute, community, beauty and order, and play!

Yes, play is a universal human need! When we play, a freedom and creativity is released. A joy erupts and we take home with us a well-spring of energy to self care and contribute to others’ well-being.

When we experience the wordless energy of beauty and nature, we refill and know we are powerful to contribute.

Young and grown people are committing suicide, are filled with anxiety and depression that they strive to hide.

What is it we value? What is it we hold precious and honor?

What do we want our children to value and stand for?

Our land, our field, at the top of a canyon so rare and precious that it is designated as a preserved State Park -- this field exists to serve us, to meet our deepest needs within its open space and breathtaking views.

Our field is not just another field in another school ground. Our field is extraordinary in its offering of beauty and play, of its innate power to support and replenish the human spirit, a critical need to be filled for our individual and collective well-being.

This field belongs to the people, big and little, for generations to come.

Yes, of all life’s endeavors, educating our youth is vital and holds all the components of growing, expanding, creating!

We need a new school for a creative space for our kids to learn.

We need a new school!

We need our field!!

Both.

Vicki Mirandon

Mother/guardian of 9 Del Mar Heights and Hills students, active volunteer and supporter of all things children and school, creator and writer of both Heights and Hills newsletters.

Oct. 22 issue:

SDUHSD board: Slow the reopening process down

Dear SDUHSD Board of Trustees and Superintendent Haley,

Before quarantine, many students thought of the current pandemic as a far-off storm, a hurricane that would never make landfall. Sadly, it seems the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) board still thinks of COVID-19 this way. Against a virus that has killed upwards of 200,000 people in the United States alone, the district, under the guidance of the board, has taken little action. Filtration and ventilation in schools is still inadequate. Classes are not cleaned between periods. Facing the impossibility of adequate distancing in a classroom of 40 students, the district has lowered the requirements for social distancing to 3 feet. But the CDC director has repeatedly said we should keep a distance of 6 feet—not 3. The board states students and faculty alike will wear masks and wash our hands. But there have been no consequences outlined for those who don’t.

The board states reopening is safe. It’s not. However, it appears ignorance of both science and human decency is the norm. Instead of augmenting these measures to ensure the safety of the students and teachers of the district, the board has given teachers an ultimatum—put themselves at risk of infection by returning to school or take a leave of absence without health benefits. As teachers themselves have stated, to force those who have worked so hard to adapt their curricula to the challenges of an online environment to choose between the lesser of two evils is unjust and inhumane, especially because they have shown they can teach remotely as effectively as they teach in person.

Students in the district hope to see plans that show us in detail what our days on campus will actually look like, and what our days in distance learning will look like. What kind of an education will these two environments entail? What will happen if a teacher, in the face of this ultimatum, decides to protect their own health by leaving their position? What will happen to their students? We need detailed plans that will ensure quality education as we move to in-person learning. Right now all we have are bare outlines containing gaping holes. There are too many questions to answer and too many issues to address to ask us to choose if we’re ready to come back in the first week of November. People’s lives demand more deliberation than this. Slow the process down.

Joshua Charat-Collins, student, Canyon Crest Academy

Co-signed by 447 SDUHSD students, 31 SDUHSD teachers, 454 SDUHSD parents, 84 SDUHSD residents as of Oct. 19, 2020 10:50 a.m.

SDUHSD needs a more sensible plan for reopening schools

We all want kids to have the option to be back on campus, especially those most in need or where it can be done most safely. Unfortunately, teachers, doctors, students and parents say the current San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) “Reopening Resolution”, approved at the Oct. 14 board meeting, will significantly degrade teaching quality and compromise student, staff, and community safety.

Prior to the Oct. 14 meeting, reopening of SDUHSD schools was deemed unsafe, but the safety guidelines were re-interpreted so that several recommendations could be foregone in the resolution. The resolution also mandates that all teachers physically return to classrooms Oct. 29. The district has also recommended that all students who want to come back in person be able to do so as early as Nov. 9 for 1-2 days per week.

The community reaction to the plan has been very negative. In the Oct. 14 board meeting, 80% of the 143 written comments were against adopting the resolution. Also, there have been multiple petitions (including some started by students) against this resolution which have received over 1,000 signatures. Teachers are also extremely concerned and are considering legal and/or job actions.

The main concerns with the current plan are:

It feels very rushed, without time to account for the input of the Expanded Reopening Committee.

San Diego infection rates are high, with the County asking businesses to have employees work from home.

Many safety recommendations (e.g. 6 feet of distance between students, small cohorts, adequate ventilation) are not being followed.

Teachers would need to go from well-equipped setups at home to often inferior setups in a classroom, where their attention would be split between in-person and remote students, all while trying to teach over video wearing a mask.

Students would see a big disruption in their learning model.

The district would lose many teachers not able to comply with the Oct 29 mandate, and all of their students would be shifted to a substitute.

What many parents, students, teachers, and others are requesting is to:

Slow down, get input from key stakeholders, and develop a more sensible plan(s) and timeline.

Conduct a proper survey that describes the plan in more detail (the prior survey didn’t explain the safety or learning model compromises) and get feedback.

Reverse the mandate for all teachers to be physically back Oct. 29.

Consider alternative plan(s) such as the expanded targeting of certain groups and activities or some teachers being able to remain remote.

Take a phased approach involving pilots and then assessing how they go.

Ensure the likely 20-50% of students that remain remote-only are treated with equality.

Adam Fischer,

Carmel Valley

Oct. 29 issue:

SDUHSD needs to create a strong safety plan

Schools are essential. All parents want kids back in school that resembles what they used to know. Until that can happen, we have to recognize there’s a global pandemic right now of an aerosolized virus that’s being transmitted by asymptomatic carriers. Pushing forward with reopening plans that don’t consider the very real risks of this will disrupt our children’s lives even further, as we’ve seen happen just last week in Vista where 140 people had to quarantine after day 2 of Vista Unified’s reopening.

San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) is right now considering a vague and nonspecific plan to return teachers and students to school in a very short time with minimal safety protocols. SDUHSD will require students to wash hands and wear masks. Other recommended safety protocols are being considered “as practicable.” This is very concerning.

In an interview with NBC News San Diego last week, Dr. Mark Sawyer, an infectious disease specialist at UCSD and Rady Children’s Hospital who is on a panel advising the San Diego Unified School District about its reopening plans, said “If we open schools when there is too much activity in the community, too much disease in the community, then we are going to have a problem in the schools. So we are right on the verge of that...”

Dr. Sawyer was also clear that 6 feet of distancing is important to mitigating the spread of disease. In response to a question about whether quarantining is necessary if everyone remains at least 6 feet apart, Dr. Sawyer said, “I think, if, in fact, everyone was 6 feet apart and wearing masks, then that’s the whole idea.”

Researchers elsewhere are coming to similar understandings. In an article published in the New York Times on Oct. 22, it said “The risk [of virus transmission] among older children in middle and high schools is less clear, but many experts believe that these schools may be able to contain the coronavirus, provided the community prevalence is low and the schools take abundant precautions.”

Dr. David Rubin, a pediatrician and infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania, said in the New York Times article, “I think there’s a pretty good base of evidence now that schools can open safely in the presence of strong safety plans…”

SDUHSD needs to create a strong safety plan, one that doesn’t use terms like “as feasible” or “as practicable” and instead meaningfully prioritizes the safety of students, teachers, staff, and members of the community by updating HVAC, increasing ventilation, requiring 6 feet of distance between students at all times, mandating masks, and ensuring that testing before returning to campus completes. A final point — communication with families needs to be so much better.

Glenn Collins

Carmel Valley

SDUHSD should have a safe reopening, not a rushed reopening

Last week, a group of parents sent a letter to SDUHSD Board President Beth Hergesheimer requesting urgent consideration of rescission, or alternatively the reconsideration and amendment, of the Reopening Resolution passed during the Special Board Meeting on Oct.14, 2020

In light of new information, including a new directive from the San Diego County Public Health Department, our request included an immediate stay on the order for all teachers to return to the classroom Oct. 29, before too many teachers potentially make the decision (as many have already indicated they will do) to retire or take leave or otherwise not return. The teachers have helped propel SDUHSD to top rankings in California and in the United States. Losing as many as 17% of teachers and staff, as one principal indicated may happen at one school site, would not only degrade the education students are receiving right now, but also it would damage the school district’s reputation, having an impact that could ripple as far as residents’ property values.

We have respectfully requested that the administration and school board first put in place a comprehensive, detailed, and abundantly cautious plan that has been developed in collaboration with principals and teachers, ratified by the board, and then appropriately communicated to families. This will help to do the following:

• Preserve the academic integrity of current learning models

• Allow teachers and students to select the instructional environment based on complete information

• Protect the community by implementing the highest safety protocols as recommended by the CDC, the NIH, the WHO, and pediatric infectious disease specialists. This includes:

• more than 1-meter spacing indoors (ideally six feet)

• upgraded ventilation and filtration rated for virus mitigation

• specific and detailed plans for how to stop virus transmission between class periods and at lunch time small and stable cohorts

• explicit testing and quarantining procedures

• flexibility on return to campus for teachers, staff, and students.

Currently the district’s limited plan provides the bare minimum in safety protocols and proposes return to campus dates that have been characterized by several members of the Expanded Reopening Committee, including site administrators, as impractical.

We urge members of the SDUHSD community to write to board members as well as the superintendent to request a safe reopening, not a rushed reopening.

Julie Bronstein,

Carmel Valley

Heather Dugdale,

Fairbanks/Crosby

Kimberly McSherry,

Carmel Valley

Sacramento, please, one more chance for Del Mar

Del Mar faces housing challenges like never before. The state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) has indicated they are willing to consider alternatives to up-zoning Del Mar’s fragile coastal bluffs and lands adjacent to sensitive wetlands, but they are deeply concerned about the timing. I, too, am concerned about the timing. To bring alternatives to HCD will need to happen quickly and meaningfully.

Realizing the major challenge in the state requirements for high-density rezoning to generate affordable housing, in January of this year, I asked to be appointed as a council liaison for housing. What have I done since January?

1. January 2020: We created a Citizens Housing Task Force with seven voting members.

2. January - May: Together, task force members and I visited all possible sites for affordable housing, evaluated options, and ranked them. In May, the task force disbanded.

3. June: HCD released their Housing Element Guidelines – a rich, inspiring document written by thoughtful experts with many ways to fulfill affordable and moderate housing in cities of all sizes. It contains roadmaps for seeking alternatives.

4. July - September: With the guidelines in hand, we evaluated options again. We pushed for a “menu” to be presented to council, and then to HCD.

5. In parallel, January-March: I participated as a citizen in Fairgrounds long-term planning sessions. I met the now-retired director and started to get to know the Fairgrounds staff. Because others were the council liaisons to the Fairgrounds, I could do this only as a citizen, not a council member.

All during this time, no council member has met with HCD directly to review Del Mar’s issues. I have asked repeatedly and been told that only staff meets with HCD. I have since learned that in other cities, including Encinitas, council members and planning commissioners have met successfully with HCD.

Del Mar is a tiny place, bound on all sides by other fully built-out, dense cities. We harbor the Fairgrounds’ 330 acres. The rest of our open spaces are fragile coastal bluffs and land adjacent to sensitive wetlands, designated for upland migration of marshes with sea level rise. These are precious resources whose value is increasing over time. We must protect the bluffs and wetlands for everyone. Building high-density housing there is not a solution. It is a travesty. We need to work with the Fairgrounds to solve the problem.

The next step is to work hand in hand with our new planning director and engage with HCD in direct, productive, balanced, urgent discussions with real negotiation and open minds.

I respectfully and humbly ask HCD to give Del Mar one more chance.

Terry Gaasterland, Ph.D.

Deputy Mayor of Del Mar

Protect Shores Park and the Winston School

Del Mar’s Planning Commission approved allowing housing development on our community’s only tennis courts and Shores Park. Thankfully, the City Council removed the tennis courts and Shores Park as affordable housing sites in the recently approved 6th Cycle Housing Element.

However, a dangerous precedent was set that endangers all our parks and Del Mar’s only school. Despite being zoned “Public Parkland” in which housing is not an allowed use, the tennis courts were approved by the Commission for housing development. In addition, Shores Park was also approved by the Commission for housing as was all city-owned property zoned “Public Facility,“ albeit as a “last resort” despite vocal opposition.

Unfortunately, Shores Park and the Winston School are still endangered by being on land zoned “Public Facility.” In addition, the updated 6th Cycle Housing Element only excludes housing on “Shores park facilities” which excludes the Winston School, the non-profit school for bright children with learning differences, that has shared the 5.3-acre property for over 30 years.

The City’s recent legal actions that could lead to the eviction of the Winston School, the lead $3 million donor to the $5.5 million Shores fundraising campaign, raises concerns about the City wanting to put housing there. It also raises serious ethical and legal concerns.

The City claims that Winston’s required redevelopment plans in its lease are insufficient despite there being a specific exclusion in cases of an “epidemic”. In addition, the City has not yet confirmed the leasehold boundary necessary for final plans.

Let’s work together to enable Winston to upgrade their existing buildings to include beautiful landscaping, modern classrooms, large kitchen and lab, yoga studio, and performing arts venue. Winston will be investing around $10 million in their facility which they will be sharing with our community. In effect, they will be building us a new community center for free.

Let’s also protect Shores Park and the Winston School through rezoning to Public Parkland. This removes the temptation for developers to put housing on the only city-owned property acquired through a historic community fundraising campaign to preserve our only playing fields and school.

George Beatty

Del Mar

Drew Cady

Del Mar

Laura DeMarco

Del Mar

Open minds, open discussion in Del Mar

I love Del Mar for many of the reasons others do. I am concerned over the lack of considerate discussion on topics raised at our city council meetings. Consistently, it appears that the council receives topics to vote on, but then seems to have its mind made up in advance, leaving little room for discussion that considers the voices of the residents. What do I value and wish to see in our city council?

1. I value council members who can have civil discussions on issues and then determine the best course of action for the city and residents of Del Mar based on listening to us!

2. There are several types of council votes that require a super-majority. These include re-zoning and the automatic change it brings to become part of the community plan. I value council members who will listen to citizen discussions to find best solutions for all of the residents of Del Mar, especially those impacted by the re-zoning.

3. Our city has already spent too much of our hard-fleeced cash on fruitless litigation that has not benefited Del Mar. I value a mix of council members from a variety of different professions to provide diverse, balanced and non-litigious approaches to solving the serious problems that we face with the California Coastal Commission over managed retreat and short-term rentals, with the state over affordable housing, and with the Feds over railroad fencing.

Del Mar needs our council members to strive to be independent thinkers who will listen to the residents, who will be civil in their discourse, and who work for the residents to improve our beautiful community and avoid turning Del Mar into yet another high-density coastal city.

John Imperato

Del Mar

NCTD Board of Directors are throwing us under the bus

Fencing off the bluffs of Del Mar and along the tracks of Encinitas and Oceanside is a nice safety thought, but lacks common sense.

The board of directors of the NCTD must change course on this terrible path. And this is a board decision, not a staff decision. The board runs the NCTD and they need to be reminded. If the fencing goes up it is on: Chairman Tony Kranz, Vice-Chair Jack Feller, and board members Priya Bhat-Patel, Terry Gaasterland, Paul McNamara, Jewel Edson, Jim Desmond, and Sharon Jenkins, not staff.

There is a rich history of cities working together on common issues such as fire protection, Sheriff service and NCTD. This current issue is a tragic example of our coastal community neighbors turning their backs on Del Mar, Oceanside and Encinitas.

Why, for example, would Del Mar want to work with Solana Beach on other common interests (Del Mar Fairgrounds) when Jewel Edson is willing to vote for this ridiculous fence in their neighboring city? Makes no sense to me.

My simple suggested solution: Chairman Tony Kranz can put a motion on the next board meeting to “table” this issue. The board votes to table and we are done with this.

Jim Benedict

Del Mar

We don’t need pot shops down the street

Response to issues in last week’s story titled “Local cannabis ballot measures ignite debates on local control, crime”

The article contains many misrepresentations of Measure S. The measure’s primary backer, Joshua Clark, does not appear to be a Solana Beach resident. It’s noteworthy that Mr. Clark submitted only an emailed response to the reporter’s questions, but declined an interview. Signs supporting Measure S misspelled the name of the city. That doesn’t sound like a “voter led initiative” to me. Surely, local residents would know how to spell Solana Beach. City Council members David Zito, Kelly Harless, and Judy Hegenauer oppose Measure S because they have read the 33 pages and realize it favors the marijuana industry over the interests of residents. Pot is already available a few miles away or online. We don’t need pot shops down the street.

Bill Walker
Solana Beach resident, 35 years


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