Opinion/Letters to the Editor November, December 2020
Nov. 5 issue:
Misinformation about the SDFA
There’s a discussion in the community driven by misinformation and misunderstanding about the San Dieguito Faculty Association (SDFA). We write to define what the SDFA actually is and how it fits into our current circumstance. Some vocal and demonstrative community members have been claiming the SDFA is preventing teachers from returning to on-site classrooms and characterizing the SDFA as an external, bully-type force that somehow solely controls the decisions of the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD).
The SDFA is not just teachers, it includes our counselors and it does not just represent the people teaching and counseling our children, it is those same people—their president is a middle school counselor and their membership is voluntary, consisting of a vast majority of our children’s teachers and counselors. To suggest that these people—our neighbors and friends—are being manipulated or are engaged in some plot to keep students off their campuses does one thing, and one thing only. It allows those who don’t believe that teachers should have the same employment rights guaranteed to other public employees to dehumanize and vilify our teachers and counselors for personal political gain. This vilification began a few years ago and has reached a fever pitch during this sensitive time. We should be especially wary of anyone in our community blaming the teachers’ association for problems caused by those in the district administration and elected leadership who sow division among us rather than try to bring us together.
Those who cast aspersions toward the SDFA might consider that teachers are not the only public employees to form associations as a way to organize themselves and speak with one voice. Our local police officers have the San Diego Police Officers Association and our local firefighters have the San Diego City Firefighters Association. Blaming or even giving sole credit to the SDFA for decisions made by the San Dieguito Union High School District would be like blaming or giving sole credit to the police and firefighters associations for decisions made by the Mayor of San Diego. It just doesn’t work that way.
Employees’ associations are just some of the many voices that leaders consider when making decisions for the public good. During this pandemic, state, county, university and public health voices are also paramount. When associations are excoriated for certain decisions, this might be a clear sign that communication and transparency have broken down at all levels. We urge all stakeholders in SDUHSD to come together to collaborate and compromise to ensure best practices in decision making—and that the education and safety of our children be the top priority, always.
Keeping the kids at home is not a solution
To the San Dieguito Union High School District board and Superintendent Haley:
I can’t properly put into words how utterly gutted I am in your lack of putting the welfare of the children foremost in your return to school planning. To capture the failure of your leadership, let’s look at the things I can now do with my 7th grader at Earl Warren under the approval of the county:
Dine inside a restaurant
Take him to church, movies, museums
Go inside barbershops, grocery stores, airports, gyms
As of 10/30 the CDC even allowed cruise ships to resume operations
Enroll him in the private schools that are all teaching in person
Move to a district that has the right priority in placing the student’s needs first. Grossmont, Vista, Escondido are teaching their kids on site
If he was 6 years older, he could even go get a tattoo of his most familiar teacher, a tossup now between Mrs. Dell or Mr. MacBook
On the other hand, here are things I can’t take him to:
Bars & breweries (unless they serve food in which case bottoms up)
Sauna or steam rooms
His middle school
You are continuing to keep the kids hostage in their homes in a situation all know fails to enable development to their potential. This going on 8 months of lack of adequate instruction and socialization leads to depression, isolation, and achievement gaps. Experts well versed in the pandemic response, including Dr. Fauci in remarks recently, said “the default should be getting children back in school as opposed to making the default, when you have infections, keep them out of school.”
I can appreciate that this is a difficult and unprecedented situation. However, the reality is that our kids are not as impacted by the virus as those who are older or have underlying conditions. We need to protect those at risk and learn to live with it for all others. Keeping the kids at home is not a solution and one that will guarantee unintended consequences far severe than the challenges that reopening our schools present.
In the SDUHSD you have so many parents and teachers willing to find a way to make in person learning happen. You as leaders have to outline the way for this to become reality. You have the power of the majority willing to support you in any way needed. We can do this.
Let’s go forward and use this time to reset, and figure out a way to get our kids back in the classroom, with their talented teachers doing what they do best. Teaching our kids in person.
Disappointed father of a EWMS 7th grader
Congratulations; now we need leadership with humility and civility
Open Letter to the Del Mar City Council:
The election is over — what a relief!
Congratulations to the winners and good luck to all of you as you attack the greatest challenges in Del Mar’s history through positive leadership.
This was an ugly election. We don’t blame you for the lapses in civility, courtesy and veracity that have become part of the process of our national leaders. But it would be a huge mistake to waste energy on partisanship when it will take all our collective energy and focus to manage our city through the coming years.
Please don’t take offense at our presumption in reminding you that you were elected to the Council as representatives of all the citizens of Del Mar, not merely those who supported and voted for you. We chose you because we believe in your individual and collective intellect, honesty, and objectivity. In order to govern effectively, obtain input from all your constituents and evaluate it fairly and equitably. We are counting on you to analyze and understand the crucial issues and to deal with them courageously, independently, and transparently, irrespective of the emotionally-charged election process. It is important that you have an open mind to consider ideas that came from those in a council minority and embrace them if they are in the best interest of our community. This means you are willing to “give and take” and compromise and collaborate with your colleagues. You have every right to change your mind as new facts appear and situations change. Both of those will happen.
Please lead our city to the bright future based upon the values and history that made our city the paradise that it is. Don’t be distracted by backward-looking negativism and by the pressures from special interests. As you navigate past COVID-19, you will have to make difficult choices and ensure that essential services are maintained and the city’s finances are on a solid footing. You will need to weave through these and, most likely, offend a lot of people in many cases. That’s part of the job.
If you do your best, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have risen above the petty politics in which we have been immersed in the past months. You can set a new example of courageous leadership. We promise that, when the dust settles, you will be appreciated and honored for your service. Let’s work together to create a better and stronger Del Mar.
Martin “Marty” Cooper
and Suren G. Dutia
Nov. 12 issue:
Please represent the best interests of the city
Open Letter to Councilmember-Elect Tracy Martinez:
I just received the referendum petition being circulated by the Hillside Community Association (HCA) seeking to repeal zone changes necessary for Del Mar’s compliance with state housing law. As a newly elected councilmember and member of HCA, please speak up against this ill-advised referendum. Show Del Mar that you will represent the best interests of the entire city.
Here’s what is at stake.
• Upon city clerk certification that the referendum has acquired the required 10% signatures, by state law the zoning ordinance is immediately suspended.
• Suspending the zoning will prevent Del Mar from complying with state housing law. Del Mar is out of compliance, as the State has told us in its September 30 letter.
• Decertification of Del Mar’s Housing Element will, predictably, follow.
• Decertification will disqualify Del Mar from obtaining grant funding needed for a fairgrounds housing project.
• Inability to fund a fairgrounds housing option will lead toward “by right” development at North Bluff and South Stratford with potentially hundreds of units.
To offset the 51 affordable units we propose to locate on the fairgrounds would require 250+ units on North Bluff and South Stratford under our 20% set-aside rules. Nobody wants that, but that is what the referendum puts at risk. Our one shot for success is to fund the fairgrounds program with grant funds, and meet our obligations there, rather than North and South Bluff. All that stops if we are decertified.
North Bluff and South Stratford are the only viable alternatives to the fairgrounds for 20 units/acre designation. Other options have been reviewed and are too small, have environmental or access constraints, or other disqualifying factors. Please, check with city staff or other reliable sources to verify what I am saying.
I believe in the right to vote. But this is different. The State’s housing hammer hangs over Del Mar. I urge you to support the broader city interest over the interests of your neighborhood. This isn’t easy—it’s your neighborhood, friends, and supporters promoting the referendum. But, that’s the job of an elected councilmember.
I am sharing this letter publicly in the hope of reaching those who might be considering signing the referendum petition. I ask that you join me in that effort.
Del Mar Councilmember
A note from the Kitchen Shrink
To my loyal readers,
The holidays are quickly approaching, and I really miss doling out a hearty dose of helpful and healthy food advice. Since the pandemic began food has become more important than ever to all of us made apparent by the maddening periodic scarcity of flour, sugar, oil, pastas, beans, and other staples on the supermarket shelves. Homemade dishes not only boost our immune systems and energy levels, but the art of cooking provides a source of comfort, joy, solace, much-needed distraction, and family bonding. Although many of our tables will likely shrink this Thanksgiving holiday, our appetites for sharing a festive meal with our close loved ones will likely swell. Please feel free to reach out to me for some turkey talk, culinary queries of all manners, and a few long-overdue laughs. I’m at the same place — firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, shop smartly, eat heathy, cook daily, and stay safe.
“The Kitchen Shrink”
The high drama of the 2020 election
By Gordon Clanton
Key local races were influenced by the down-to-the-wire presidential race and took place against the backdrop of the global coronavirus pandemic, economic collapse, and racial unrest not seen since the 1960s. (Note: Results were unofficial as of press time according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters which said on its website that 33,000 ballots still had to be processed. Percentages below were as of press time Wednesday, Nov. 11.):
In the 49th District, first-term Democratic Congressman Mike Levin defeated (56-43 percent) Republican challenger Brian Maryott, former mayor of San Juan Capistrano, probably because support for Donald Trump was slipping in the district, which includes southern Orange and northern San Diego County.
Similarly, in the Third District race for county supervisor, Republican incumbent Kristin Gaspar had strongly identified with Donald Trump, embracing his policies on immigration and the border. This probably hurt her in a district where support for Trump was declining. Her Democratic challenger, Terra Lawson-Remer, won by 16 percentage points. After decades of Republican rule, the county board will now have a Democratic majority. And on the San Diego City Council, Democrats will have an 8-1 edge – and a new Democratic mayor, Todd Gloria.
In rural North and East County, Congressional District 50, where support for Trump is very high, Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar fell short in his second strong bid for Congress, losing (54-46 percent) to Republican Darrell Issa. In 2018, Issa resigned his 49th District seat rather than face likely defeat. That seat is now held by Mike Levin.
When I arrived in Del Mar in 1974, Republicans held three of the county’s four Congressional seats. Now Democrats hold four of five seats, a metric unchanged by the recent election.
Proposition 15. In 1978 California voters passed Proposition 13, requiring that residential, commercial, and industrial properties be taxed based on their purchase price. The tax was limited to no more than 1 percent of the purchase price, with an annual adjustment of no more than 2 percent.
Prop 13 was good for California homeowners, substantially reducing property taxes and allowing retired folks to stay in their homes. But Prop 13 was also a huge windfall for California’s largest corporations. They, too, were taxed at the same low rate and low appreciation limits. Chevron and PG&E get the same tax break as your grandmother, but on a much larger scale.
Prop 15 on the November ballot would have required large commercial and industrial properties, except for commercial agriculture, to be taxed based on their market value, rather than their purchase price. Most Democratic elected officials statewide supported the measure. It was opposed by Chevron and PG&E. Prop 15 was defeated 56-44 percent.
Gordon Clanton teaches sociology at San Diego State University. He does not speak for the university. He welcomes comments at email@example.com.
Nov. 19 issue:
Proposition 15 defeat a good result
I am glad that the majority of the residents of California see through the trick of the people who wrote Proposition 15. Because if they did approve it, the same people who wrote Prop 15 will write another proposition to impose more taxes on portions of what was approved by Prop 13.
In “One View” of the Nov. 12 edition of the Del Mar Times, Mr. Clanton says that corporations benefit from Prop 13. He says Prop 15 will raise their taxes. Let me remind him that if corporations pay more taxes, they will simply raise the prices of what they are selling. We, the people, end up paying for it. Mr. Clanton forgets that corporations employ thousands of people, so that these people can make a living. If they have to pay too much taxes, they’ll probably lay off some workers.
Mr. Clanton, I suggest you think it through before writing your editorial.
Del Mar’s ADU charade
As many are aware, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are becoming ever more popular in Del Mar. As of today, there are 30 new ADUs under development within our small city. One might think that this is a good trend that will help the city reach its affordable housing goals – which, in fact, is the intent of the recently implemented state law that incentivized this trend. Both Deputy Mayor Gaasterland, and City Councilmember-elect Tracy Martinez have indicated that ADUs are a reasonable alternative to re-zoning to reach our mandated housing goals. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and the trend, if it continues, has the unintended consequence of undermining our cherished Community Plan much more than the approved North Commercial re-zoning.
Let me explain. Firstly, under current state law, for an ADU to be counted as affordable housing, it must be dedicated as such for 30 years with a legal deed restriction. So far only one of the ADUs being developed has agreed to such a restriction – and that one was proposed before the current state law went into effect. Under this law, an ADU of up to 1,000 square feet can be built without any of the city’s discretionary oversight, such as DRB evaluation or floor area ratio restrictions. These ADUs need not be dedicated to any affordable housing use. So, what is the consequence for a city like Del Mar, where house prices are $1,000 per square foot or more, and those who buy them have no need to rent out their space to help them financially? One doesn’t have to be an economist to see that the availability of an extra 1,000 sq.ft. not subject to Del Mar’s FAR restrictions increases the value of a home by a million dollars, while placing a deed restriction on the property diminishes its value accordingly. The implications of this are apparent. Del Mar’s Community Plan and its Design Review Ordinances, that make our beautiful city unique, is being undermined, with new developments increasing building density on their lot with ADUs that can block views with impunity, and decrease the open space nature of our neighborhoods. The primary goal of our Community Plan states: “The overall thrust of this Plan is to preserve the unique environment, low density character and quality of life within Del Mar.”
There are three takeaways from Del Mar’s ADU charade. 1) The intent of the State Law fails miserably in a place like Del Mar; 2) ADUs in Del Mar are not the answer to our affordable housing obligation; and 3) ADUs threaten to undermine our Community Plan. But don’t get me wrong, I am in favor of ADUs that are dedicated to affordable housing, and would be happy to have them in my neighborhood. The only solution to this dilemma that I can see is to lobby our state representatives to modify the ADU statute to require deed restrictions in cities (or neighborhoods) where property values make the law’s original intent irrelevant.
Racial inequality: Actions speak louder than words
If your gut reaction to a symbolic anti-racist resolution is outrage and indignity, you just might be racist.
The backlash to this simple commitment to racial equality isn’t entirely surprising. Del Mar is 94% White with a median age of 50; not exactly a bastion of progressive thought. The public denial of “systematic” racism, however, is what happens when the privileged are faced with acknowledging their privilege. Rather than accept any personal responsibility, we choose to ignore the enduring inequality.
A more insidious rebuke of racial justice, however, is the effort by some residents to overturn a zoning change approved by the City Council. Believe it or not, this decision has a far more tangible effect on racial justice than some ideological resolution. A long history of redlining, restrictive zoning and discrimination excluded non-Whites from buying homes here in California while creating a massive housing shortage. When small towns like Del Mar refuse any attempt at upzoning, the entire state suffers.
Our neighbors in Solana Beach are fighting a similar increase to density. SANDAG asked them to build 875 new units over 10 years but apparently such a massive expansion of housing would destroy the “character” of these exclusive little beach towns. That exclusivity, however, is slowly draining out the neighborhood as prices go up and people look for houses elsewhere. Del Mar’s population has been falling since the ’90s and Solana Beach hasn’t grown in 20 years.
It might be hard to see the connection between racial justice and the state’s broken housing market; what you can see are the 150,000 Californians sleeping in the street on any given night. And, while they account for only 5.5% of the state’s total, Black Californians make up 30% of the homeless population. That disparity is a direct result of systemic racism and it doesn’t matter if you, personally, are vehemently racist or not. If you refuse to address the structural racism from which you benefit, you are at least complicit in the continued disenfranchisement of Black and other non-White Californians.
Over the past few years city councils, school boards, and community leaders alike have been jumping on the “woke” train and releasing toothless statements outlining their theoretical commitment to racial justice while ignoring the literal steps they could take instead. People seem to think of it as somebody else’s problem; it’s not our job to fix statewide issues. As long as we tell everybody we don’t like racism, we’re good, right? When in reality the continued refusal of all the little towns like Del Mar to actually do the work is what perpetuates racial and economic inequality.
Don’t tell us you’re anti-racist; show us.
Mask law on the beach should be enforced
It’s time the city starts enforcing the mask law on the beach. I’d say daily compliance hovers around 25%. That’s disgraceful. Lots of signs have done very little. Send a law enforcement patrol once a week, preferably at 8-9 a.m., up and down the beach. Watch compliance shoot up. That works on those rare occasions when the city decides to enforce the loose dogs law, which, by the way, is also rampant at those hours. The default action is closing the beach. I don’t think any of the beach folks want that. But, apparently, they do need encouragement to behave in their own self-interest.
This is not progress
Parents and grandparents might wish to compare both the writing and the requirements in the pre-World War II and the most recent Boy Scout astronomy merit-badge book for a clear demonstration of the decline of American education.
Before the war there were no constantly changing approaches to learning because it was understood that the basics were essential, required personal discipline and even (gasp!) memorization. With a solid foundation of the basics, young minds acquired the tools required to make something of themselves. The rest, it was understood, was a function of individual character.
This country would do well to return to a rigorous grounding in the basics. Then perhaps all our children might be able to read with the level of comprehension we once took for granted and our children, as they once did, could easily deal with the kind of writing found in old merit-badge books.
Grandmother of two Del Mar students
Nov. 26 issue:
Give teachers the choice to teach remotely and improve safety measures
At the Nov. 19 San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) board meeting, district administration said that requiring all teachers to physically return to classrooms on Jan. 4 will result in significant teacher loss. The district reported that 10% of all teachers are choosing an unpaid leave without benefits over returning physically. It’s estimated that 60-120 teachers will not return, creating a need for long-term substitutes. The forced physical return is unnecessary; the district remains in a distance learning model and teachers can continue teaching the same curriculum remotely. Forced return undercuts the San Diego County Public Health Officer’s directive that all employers, including essential employers like schools, encourage employees to telework.
The district reported that, even before the board’s chosen policy creates the anticipated teacher loss, SDUHSD needs to increase substitute pay because it faces a severe statewide shortage of substitutes. The shortage is so bad that the board discussed recruiting substitutes by hanging banners to attract random passersby, noting that there are lots of parents and unemployed people who could teach our kids; all they need is a college degree and they don’t need to take the CBEST if they can demonstrate an SAT score that doesn’t even need to be that high. The board is creating conditions it knows will lead to an irreparable 10-20% teacher loss, resulting in experienced, professional teachers being replaced by unemployed college graduates whose main qualifications are a willingness to be in a classroom.
Teachers are not commodities. SDUHSD’s outstanding teachers are subject-matter credentialed, prepare students for Advanced Placement examinations, encourage AVID learners to reach for college, and lead programs like IB, Envision, and teams and clubs that form students’ campus experiences. Academic integrity, quality of instruction, and campus culture will be severely degraded because teachers are not easily replaced by unemployed college graduates.
In a tight employment market, employers strive to retain employees. They don’t create plans causing mass resignation, increasing the need for employees. They improve working conditions. Teachers don’t feel safe under the current SDUHSD plan. The difficulty attracting qualified substitutes is worsened by the district’s plan which is woefully insufficient in filtration, testing, and more compared to San Diego Unified, a district competing for the same substitutes.
The county COVID situation is growing worse. The average number of cases reported per day over the prior week more than tripled from 307 to 1,004. Hospitalizations have more than doubled, from 181 to 439, and the worst is yet to come since hospitalizations lag cases by 2-3 weeks, according to State Secretary Ghaly.
SDUHSD board: Please give teachers the choice to teach remotely and improve safety measures at least to the standards of San Diego Unified and UCSD recommendations.
Big thank you to outgoing Del Mar council members Parks and Haviland
Retiring Del Mar City Council members Sherryl Parks and Ellie Haviland deserve a giant bouquet of thanks from us all for their exceptional community leadership. Sherryl’s steady hand has always been grounded in the core values of our Community Plan and her extraordinary ability to listen and learn from her constituents. Ellie’s principled representation of our interests in the region has been exemplary, especially while enduring with dignity a deplorable hate spew from some quarters.
Both Sherryl and Ellie deserve to know how much they have contributed to our quality of life and our reputation in the region. Thank you.
Dec. 3 issue:
One View: Last notes on November election
By Gordon Clanton
Apart from celebrating Joe Biden’s presidential victory, Democrats enjoyed a near-sweep in local elections, winning an 8-1 advantage on the San Diego City Council and a 3-2 edge on the County Board of Supervisors, where Republicans had prevailed for decades.
Democratic mayor-elect Todd Gloria will replace two-term Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer who is reportedly considering a run for governor. And Democratic city attorney Mara Elliott easily won re-election. So 10 of 11 City of San Diego elected officials are now Democrats. Councilman Chris Cate is the only Republican left at City Hall.
In the Nov. 12 column I noted that when I arrived in Del Mar in 1974 Republicans held three of the county’s four Congressional seats. An alert reader (thanks, Vince) reminded me that, following the 1990 defeat of Congressman Jim Bates, Republicans held all four seats for two years. Now, even with the defeat of Ammar Campa-Najjar in rural red CD 50, Democrats hold four of the five seats – and appear likely to hold them for years to come.
Rising Democratic star San Diego Councilman Chris Ward was elected to fill the council seat that Todd Gloria vacated in 2016 when he ran successfully for the California Assembly. Now Chris has won the 78th District Assembly seat that Todd left to run successfully for mayor of San Diego. Maybe Chris will run for mayor in eight years, when Todd is termed out.
Chris and I go way back. We met when he was chief of staff for my friend former state Senator Marty Block. No one has done more than Chris for the homeless people of San Diego.
In the San Dieguito Union High School District race, two Democrats (teacher-endorsed Jane Lea Smith and spoiler Amy Caterina) divided the Dem vote, delivering victory to Republican Michael Allman, an advocate of for-profit charter schools.
School board races are nominally non-partisan, but both parties invest heavily in these local elections. Such races have grown increasingly expensive and bitter in recent years. It’s never been more important to do your pre-election homework.
In Del Mar, Councilman Dave Druker and running mates Tracy Martinez and Dan Quirk swept the city council election, installing a new 4-1 majority and ending 32 years of “green” council majorities. Time will tell.
—Gordon Clanton teaches sociology at San Diego State University. He does not speak for SDSU. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
By stopping teen dating violence now, we can prevent abuse in adulthood
By Mara W. Elliott
San Diego City Attorney
Most of us remember the innocence of dating as teens, and many of us have watched as our own children venture out on their first dates. Despite our own fond memories, there can be a dark side to teen dating that is often not discussed but potentially dangerous: behavior that is aggressive, controlling, or emotionally abusive, and which thrives in secrecy. Victims may be too embarrassed or afraid to tell family or friends, even as the behavior progresses to physical or sexual violence.
Studies have found that unhealthy teen relationships can have a lifelong impact. Often it is a predictor of domestic violence in adult relationships, for aggressor and victim alike. Additionally, many of the behaviors in teen dating violence overlap with sex trafficking, such as the use of power and control, which raises another danger.
As City Attorney, I lead an office that provides services to victims of domestic and sexual violence and also prosecutes their abusers. We know this phenomenon all too well. That’s why we are working to break the cycle of violence by educating teachers, teens, parents, and guardians about this hidden aspect of teen dating.
Our goal is to reach these students — both those being harmed and those causing the harm — and their families before aggression or controlling behaviors occur or escalate into violence, identify the problematic behavior, and help correct it, leading to happier, safer lives. We recently conducted trainings on the importance of healthy relationships, and how to recognize and prevent dangerous ones, in conjunction with the San Diego Domestic Violence Council (SDDVC), the San Diego County Office of Education, the Center for Community Solutions, the Community Resource Center, San Diego Youth Services, San Ysidro Health, and South Bay Community Services.
Our office, along with the San Diego County Office of Education and community domestic violence partners, is also doing targeted outreach to all middle and high schools with the goal of hosting future trainings. If you’d like to see this training in your school, contact the Teen Dating Violence Subcommittee of the SDDVC at email@example.com.
Locally, one in five San Diego students has experienced emotional violence, one in 10 has experienced sexual violence, and one in 16 has been subjected to physical violence. These rates are more than double for teens who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, according to a 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey by the San Diego Unified School District.
In a study by the Centers for Disease Control of adults who were victims of violence or stalking by an intimate partner, 26 percent of the women and 15 percent of the men had first experienced sexual or physical violence before age 18.
At our San Diego Family Justice Center, which provides comprehensive services to those who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking, we see devastating cases every day. Some involve pregnant mothers, disabled children, child abduction, and other circumstances that would break your heart. No one should be forced to endure this kind of pain.
While our Family Justice Center provides victim support services, our Domestic Violence and Sex Crimes Unit continues to aggressively prosecute violent offenders, with recent convictions resulting in significant jail time and requisite counseling.
Many of the victims we serve have a history of abuse, coercion, and exploitation that has led them into a pattern of unhealthy relationships. That’s why we’re working hard to educate teens about how to foster healthy relationships as they embark on adulthood.
Anyone who is already experiencing violence in a relationship can find the assistance they need in a safe and supportive setting at the City Attorney’s San Diego Family Justice Center. The center provides confidential services, free of charge. Call 619-533-6000 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday, the 24-hour hotline at 888-385-4657, or visit sandiego.gov/fjc.
Here are some additional resources for those who need help or would like to learn more:
• Center for Community Solutions: ccssd.org / 888-385-4657
• Community Resource Center: crcncc.org / 877-633-1112
• San Diego Youth Services: sdyouthservices.org / 619-241-0608
• San Ysidro Health: syhteenclinic.org / 619-800-8336
• South Bay Community Services: southbaycommunityservices.org / 800-640-2933
• WRC: wrcsd.org/760-757-3500
• National Domestic Violence Hotline: thehotline.org / 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 22522
— Mara W. Elliott is the San Diego City Attorney
Dec. 10 issue:
The value of our field
Sharing The Field today. I’m not one person, one name, sharing The Field with you today, but stand with many brilliant professional people in our community, who call the field “precious,” “sacred,” a “field of dreams.”
People who want our children to know the priceless value of nature, to sing about it, make art projects about it, stand up for it!
Children, aware of the joy they feel while running and playing surrounded by beauty, whose eyes are open to the blue in the sky, the ever-changing moods of the vast ocean, right there before them as they play!
People who deeply value this depth of freedom and joy that The Field offers us.
I’m sharing this photo above so that you might feel the preciousness of this rare open land and want to protect and preserve it — that it may continue to nourish all of us, our community, as it has for generations past, a priceless gift for generations to come.
Mother/guardian of 9 Del Mar Heights and Hills students, active volunteer of all-things-children-school-and-community, creator and writer of both Heights and Hills newsletters
Kudos to Haviland and Parks for their dedication and hard work
Many of us, on reading Bud Emerson’s heartfelt expression of gratitude to Ellie Haviland and Sherryl Parks for their passionate, caring service to the City, wanted to second the motion. Civil servants like Ellie and Sherryl are rare and precious folks, whose dedication and hard work has to be recognized and appreciated more! It’s sad that we are losing Ellie so soon, and that partisan bickering may well have been the cause of her decision to move on.
Thanks to them, Del Mar is already a nicer place to live!
Barking up the wrong tree
Regarding Mr. Gotta’s Nov. 19 letter titled Racial inequality: Actions speak louder than words
Quotes from the letter:
“Del Mar is 94% White with a median age of 50; not exactly a bastion of progressive thought.”
What is wrong with this? The US is a democratic country of free people who can do what they want as long as it doesn’t infringe on the freedom of others around them, and are law abiding. Having the freedom of choice to live in the Del Mar, Solana Beach area has nothing to do with racial inequality.
”... the effort by some residents to overturn a zoning change approved by the City Council...”
The City Council is supposed to serve the people, not tell the people what to do. The residents have the perfect right to overturn the zoning change, legally of course, if they don’t like it. Racial justice, or not, the City Council should not and cannot impose their will on the residents.
”... history of redlining, restrictive zoning and discrimination excluded non-Whites... while creating massive housing shortage”
Does Mr. Gotta have proof for this statement (redlining, discrimination)? I am a Chinese native, I am a naturalized US citizen. I’ve lived in the Solana Beach, Del Mar area since 1974. I haven’t seen any of what Mr. Gotta is saying. Housing shortage has nothing to do with zoning. There are lots of vacant land around San Diego County and the State of California. Housing shortage is created by the time it takes to obtain a building permit. Restrictions (eg. zoning) created by the local and state governments, and environmental activists.
We should all strive towards racial equality, and solve the systemic racism. I’m sure if Mr. Gotta puts more effort into it, he can find a better way to solve those issues. Blaming it on those people who are ordinary people who just want to live in an environment that they feel comfortable isn’t the solution.
Mr. Gotta, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
Pot normalization — the wrong direction
Re: Dec. 3 article in this newspaper titled “SANDAG report finds more arrestees using marijuana after legalization”.
As a public health educator I want to thank the Solana Beach Sun for publishing this information provided every year by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), regarding their survey of those arrested in our county. SANDAG’S survey showing that two-thirds of local arrestees last year were more likely to use marijuana and that youth are less concerned about its harmful effects is just one more reflection on where we’re going with pot normalization -- the wrong direction.
SANDAG’s researcher Cynthia Burke stated what many hold true: “Regardless of people’s views on recreational marijuana use, voters of Prop 64 did not intend for it to lead to an increase in youth use and youth believing the drug has no harmful effects.” At last, a reasonable voice is calling attention to the fact that youth naively believe “there’s no harm” in marijuana and are using it “about every other day.” This is not a good trend by anyone’s standards. Hopefully we’ll do something to change it.
One View: Taxing corporations?
By Gordon Clanton
Two thoughtful readers (Thanks, Jim and William) have taken issue with my implied support for Proposition 15, the state ballot measure that was defeated 52-48 in November.
As noted in the Nov. 7 column: In 1978 California voters passed Proposition 13, requiring that residential, commercial, and industrial properties be taxed based on their purchase price, not their assessed value.
Prop 13 was good for California homeowners, substantially reducing property taxes and allowing retired folks to stay in their homes. But Prop 13 was also a huge windfall for California’s largest corporations. They, too, were taxed at the new lower rate. Chevron and PG&E got the same tax break as your grandmother, but on a much larger scale.
Prop 15 on the November ballot would have required large commercial and industrial properties, except for commercial agriculture, to be taxed based on their market value, rather than their purchase price. Most Democratic elected officials statewide supported the measure. It was opposed by Chevron and PG&E.
My critics both suggested, in effect, that any tax increase on big corporations would be counterproductive. The corporations would simply pass the additional cost onto their consumers, driving up prices. And if they were required to pay more taxes, they would be forced by the market to lay off workers or to reduce hiring.
By this logic, wouldn’t it be best for everyone if big corporations paid no taxes at all? This, presumably, would result in the lowest prices and the most jobs – and a complete disregard for the common good.
Meanwhile: When I returned from the East Coast to California in 1974, the Golden State was in the top five states in terms of school quality and per-pupil spending. Nowadays California is in and out of the bottom five states on these measures.
And, despite the Serrano v. Priest decision of 1971, which found unequal school funding to be unconstitutional, the gap between California schools in more-affluent and less-affluent neighborhoods grows wider every year.
A paradox: So California is a blue state that went strongly for Joe Biden, but we are not willing to raise taxes on our largest corporations, even as our schools drift further into mediocrity and other public services are threatened. California voters also said “No” to affirmative action, to ending cash bail, and to rent control. Go figure.
— Gordon Clanton teaches sociology at San Diego State University. He does not speak for SDSU. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dec. 24 issue:
What a breath of fresh air!
Kudos to Del Mar Mayor Gaasterland on her approach for council committee assignments at the first council meeting she presided over on Dec. 14. She focused on making sure all committee assignments were balanced, ensuring that each council member took on a primary role on a regional committee and that each assignment leveraged the council member’s interests, passions and diverse expertise. What a stark contrast when the previous council excluded both her and David Druker from committees and appointments until there was a public outcry!
After Councilman Worden (repeatedly) stated during the hour-plus discussion on committee appointments that he thought the council majority should do as they wished and not be concerned about him, I want to thank Councilwoman Tracy Martinez who graciously addressed Mr. Worden’s sentiments. She stated, “I don’t think there is a majority or minority anymore, we all have the dedication to move this city forward. There are obviously ideas that some share and others don’t. I really hope that we have a new attitude and we are all working towards the same end and that we are not divided”.
I appreciated and was heartened by the fact that Tracy and her colleagues on the council value Mr. Worden’s significant knowledge and experience and wanted to ensure that all voices are heard and represented. Clearly, our community wants a council that works together and acts accordingly for the best interest of our city to meet the many challenges it is facing. I, along with many residents, do not want to hear the word “council majority” again. Let’s stop the division and bring people together in our village by the sea as the new year starts!
Ms. Jas K. Grewal
28-year resident, Del Mar
SDUHSD board should reconsider its position
As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout San Diego County, more and more attention has been brought to the decisions being made by the board of the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD). Due to the nature of this problem, student board members have become even more important in representing the student body, the population most affected by the decisions being made today. Unfortunately, Trustee Michael Allman, a new board member, has clearly devalued these student leaders after the following comment in the Dec. 15 board meeting: “I think the value that they provided [on reopening] is very near zero.” This directly undermines their position and purpose. Most students cannot vote in the elections that determine the board members responsible for overseeing their educational system. They rely mainly on the student representatives they select to indicate their wishes and hopes for a better, and, particularly now, safer education. These representatives should be valued and respected for their public service.
Statements like the one above make it difficult for a significant portion of the student body to have confidence that this board has their best interests at heart. Despite the many attempts to create the impression that distance-learning, or just the absence of in-person learning is hurting students, many teachers and students, through public comments, emails, and social media content, have continuously stated their confidence and optimism for the distance-learning option. To put it simply, distance learning is working for both students and teachers and the unsafe, unverified return to school plan put forth by the board does not fully appreciate the experiences of many of the students or teachers in the district.
The board should reconsider their position given the fact that many other local school districts have postponed opening due to the significant spike in cases and our dangerously low ICU capacity. We ask that they move forward with the utmost respect and consideration of both student representatives and all students in order to create the safest plan that supports both teachers and students’ education during this already difficult time.
SDUHSD reopening czar Michael Allman
Public service attracts a reliable cast of characters, generally the altruistic types and the power-hungry. And if the candidate is for a public school board, certain scenarios give me pause: Do their children attend private schools? Are they active in the charter school scene? Did they lose an election for higher office (the Starter Public Office situation)?
New San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) board member Michael Allman nearly aced my school board bingo card. His election was odd, too: Miraculously, a third candidate for his seat dropped out and endorsed him right before election time.
But Allman is here now, so best to judge his job performance. At one of his first meetings on Dec. 15, he motioned to expand in-person learning from one day weekly (starting Jan. 4) to five days weekly (Jan. 27). Kids can opt for in-person or remote, but teachers have no choice but to return in person or lose their pay and benefits, no health waivers/no exceptions. Muir and Mossy joined him on this vote.
The consequence is that today at least 60 SDUHSD teachers will take unpaid leave, necessitating a huge number of substitutes that we do not have. Cindy Frazee, head of HR, estimates the district has around 12 substitutes.
Michael Allman is sure reopening is safe and discounts any concern his constituents may have. His reply to an anxious teacher, “Any teacher who assumes online for all and doesn’t engage in the classroom has given up.”
His closed Facebook group, SDUHSD Families for School Reopening, patrols the internet for contrarian behavior (anti-opening talk) amongst its members, routinely kicking out teachers and parents. Colorful conversation is tolerated, though, like suggesting they protest outside the SDFA president’s actual home; or wanting to fire three principals for not controlling their staff.
Allman’s disrespect extends to students as well. At that same Dec. 15 meeting, after hearing the concerns of some ASB students, he told the board that their opinion amounted to “very near zero.”
We all have suffered in this pandemic, especially our kids. Online learning is not ideal, but it has improved. We can tell our kids that we almost made it, that more and more people will receive the vaccine. But it makes little sense to open middle and high schools now in the country’s hot spot with our overflowing hospitals.
What does make sense, however, is really scrutinizing school board candidates, even during crazy election years. Michael Allman is brand new to SDUHSD, yet he is already infamous for having the wrong skill set for the job.
Guest column: Stay safe on the road this holiday season
BY MARA W. ELLIOTT
San Diego City Attorney
In protecting ourselves and our loved ones from the coronavirus, we’ve learned to work from home, attend classes online, and forgo non-essential trips. Yet driving fewer miles is not keeping us safer on the road. In fact, 2020 is predicted to be San Diego’s deadliest year for DUI fatalities.
My office prosecutes thousands of San Diegans every year for driving while impaired. Holding these drivers accountable is not nearly as satisfying as providing them with the information they need to avoid bad decisions that put lives at risk.
DUI doesn’t only apply to alcohol
When people think of “DUI” they usually associate it with alcohol. But the City Attorney’s Office is seeing an increasing number of drugged drivers -- people who were caught driving under the influence of drugs, often in combination with alcohol. Often these are people who’ve used medications for years and have increased their dosages as they’ve aged.
What these San Diegans need to know is that many prescription drugs can have a huge impact on your ability to operate a vehicle. And the influence of prescription drugs can grow exponentially when combined with even a small amount of alcohol.
We’ve also seen a significant increase in drugged driving cases involving the use of marijuana – which people have begun using more frequently, and less cautiously, since it became legal – and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax. This prescription drug can be used to treat depression and panic disorder, but it can also cause dizziness or drowsiness – effects which can be exacerbated by alcohol.
Science is on our side
It can no longer be argued that the impacts of certain drugs are difficult to measure. Our office has created a special team of prosecutors and support staff dedicated to handling drugged driving cases, and each prosecutor has developed expertise on the effects of various drugs, including marijuana. Their command of the science is impressive and made possible, in part, by a generous grant from the California Office of Transportation Safety.
In 2019, our specialized team handled more than 178 drugged driving cases with a 99% conviction rate. Nearly all of the defendants pleaded guilty and only four cases went to trial. We’re proud of this track record, in part because taxpayers are protected when we build strong cases that avoid costly court proceedings.
Despite the reduction in traffic during the pandemic, drugged driving cases have remained consistent in 2020. Through November, we’ve issued 201 cases. Of these, we’ve obtained one conviction and 20 guilty pleas. The rest of the cases are still pending due to court closures, but we are confident that we will maintain our strong conviction rate as courts begin to process these cases.
As of Nov. 20, there were 24 DUI-related deaths in San Diego County, despite the presence of less-crowded streets and highways. If this trend continues, 2020 is on track to surpass the county’s deadliest year, 2017, during which 25 people were killed in DUI crashes.
Dire DUI consequences
Not every DUI case results in death or serious injury, but even a misdemeanor arrest can be disruptive, expensive, and could lead to job loss and damaged relationships. No one wants to end up like the driver we prosecuted who, under the influence of drugs and alcohol, veered into a police officer who was assisting someone on the side of the road.
While we continue to hold drugged drivers accountable, our goal is to eliminate the need for these prosecutions in the first place. So, whether you are taking prescription medications or celebrating with family, please observe the holidays responsibly this year by staying home and staying safe. The best gift we can give is to keep ourselves, our families, and our neighbors safe and healthy for the holidays.
Dec. 31 issue:
Lack of mask compliance
I am still seeing way too many people out and about without a mask. Our local councils keep saying they are “Educating People”. People know what they should do — it is time to issue fines. Send a sheriff to the skate park, walking trails, Fletcher Cove, etc. etc. You will see a scary number of people without masks.
We were recently in Pacific Grove who are fining people $100 if caught without a mask and, guess what, people are wearing masks.
Read below from my daughter who is a nurse at a local hospital. If this does not convince the council that tougher action is needed I don’t know what will:
“Tonight while I gowned up to enter my Covid patient’s room my heart started to ache: I knew what I was about to do was gonna be hard. As I walked over to his bedside I pulled out my phone and called his family. I put the phone on speaker as the family members took turns saying their final goodbyes — my hand shook, my heart ached. His grandchildren said ‘grandpa you’re the best’, his son praised him for everything he did for him, and his wife just cried. My eyes became water works, my nose a dripping mess of snot. I held his hand through the whole conversation ... it was the only thing to do.
‘20 minutes later he passed away.
‘Covid is no joke right now! Please play safe my friends. We can’t be there for everyone!”
Time to drop the suit
It appears that we have arrived at another chapter in the seemingly never-ending saga of Save the Field’s attempts to derail the Del Mar Heights School rebuild with the judge’s recent rulings at the Dec. 22 hearing.
The judge found that 10 of the 13 claims made by Save the Field “lacked merit.” The rejected claims were the major tenets of their case, including claims that the district hid the scale and location of the project in a coastal zone; alleged increase in wildfire threat despite moving structures away from the canyon; reduction in recreation areas and open space; increase in traffic noise in Heights, Hills and Ocean Air school zones; and decrease in air quality despite no increase in student population, among other rejected claims. Again, all of the above were found to lack merit.
The judge identified the few remaining items for further study: (1) potential increase in temporary construction noise, which is an interesting claim for a group that says they are ‘for’ constructing a school, (2) study into any potential impact on a sensitive plant species (that may or may not be present) when the district repairs drainage pipes in an effort to prevent any adverse effects on the said plant species, and (3) increased traffic on the south side of Mira Montana Drive due to a wheelchair ramp the district wanted to put in to better facilitate field accessibility for handicapped people.
When one realizes that addressing the temporary construction noise and fixing the drainage issues will have to occur no matter the configuration, design, and/or scale of the build, we are only left with their worry about traffic issues due to a wheelchair ramp. If that sounds familiar see the Cardiff/Procopio lawsuit.
To recap – there is no fire threat, field space, joint use, traffic noise, air pollution, school size or view issue that has any merit per the judge.
Save The Field and their expensive Procopio lawyers have cost the district large amounts of money, angered the community, stuck our kids with at least an extra year on other school sites in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, caused delays in maintenance at other district schools, created cost increases in all district projects funded by the MM bond, and have been completely vilified in the process--- while they are left attempting to limit a potential influx of handicapped people from using their public street when trying to more easily access “the field.” That is the only claim they have left. I guess Save The Field can hang a star on that one.
The suit was never based on the district-owned, already developed field and it is important for any remaining supporters to understand this. We shall see how long Save the Field will continue this farce.
To Save the Field: drop the suit immediately.
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