Opinion/Letters to the Editor July 2021

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July 1 issue:

One View: Del Mar celebrates Joel Holliday

By Gordon Clanton

At its June 7 meeting the Del Mar City Council issued a Proclamation honoring long-time Del Mar resident Joel Holliday for his many contributions to the community and to the region.

Joel’s numerous accomplishments were scattered among the many WHEREASes:

Joel was one of three founding directors of the Del Mar Foundation, whose mission is to promote civic pride and cohesiveness, acquire and preserve open space, improve beaches and parklands, raise and grant funds, and sponsor diverse cultural programs.

Joel and four others formed the Powerhouse Park Committee to support City acquisition of the Powerhouse Park and Powerhouse building for public use, approved by voters in 1983. The Holliday family also generously supported City acquisition of the Shores Park property.

Apart from Del Mar, Joel and (his wife) Rosanne are long-term supporters of the La Jolla Playhouse and Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest.

• • •

I got to know Joel and Rosanne during Joe Lang’s unsuccessful 1982 city council campaign. Hard to believe that was almost 40 years ago.

Through many subsequent campaigns and causes, Joel and Rosanne have been role models for me with Rosanne sometimes urging civil disobedience and Joel advising that we keep our powder dry.

During the campaign for the Beach Protection Initiative, Rosanne sunbathed on parts of the public beach that had been encroached upon by some beachfront property owners.

When a pro-development city council was considering a proposal to build a huge restaurant on the site that is now Powerhouse Park, Joel paid for a survey that showed massive community opposition to the proposed restaurant – and the project was defeated. No one did more than Joel to save Powerhouse Park and to restore the Powerhouse building, both now treasured community assets.

Rosanne and Joel give great parties, hosting an estimated 100 community events at their home over the last 40 years. I am grateful for their kindness and friendship.

Joel never sought the spotlight for himself, preferring to work quietly and cooperatively behind the scenes to get things done. When I recently tried to thank Joel for his many contributions to the community, he deflected my praise and shared the credit with the dozens of community activists with whom he worked over the years.

So we salute and celebrate Joel and Rosanne Holliday whose generosity and imagination have made Del Mar a better place.

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

July 8 issue:

Measure MM expenses appropriate

As the former secretary of the Del Mar Union School District Citizens Oversight Committee for Measure MM, I am familiar with the legality of expenditures of MM funds and how projects were studied and selected for inclusion in the proposed bond issuance. Bond counsel to the Measure MM Citizens Oversight Committee and the Board of Trustees reviewed the litigation expenditures in detail and approved their being charged as appropriate Measure MM expenses.

In fact, in preparing the MM proposal, the trustees were aware that environmental, zoning and other contested issues had resulted in expensive litigation and settlements paid by other California school districts, and specifically provided for this possibility in the resolution overwhelmingly approved by voters: “Project costs for the above referenced projects may include … environmental review(s) and proceedings, … direct legal costs and related costs.” Ms. Sutton’s premise in her July 1 Education Matters opinion column titled “Measure MM funds used for legal fees” is thereby disproved.

Board accountability over many years is responsible for the quality of education achieved. DMUSD students, parents, taxpayers and alumni are justifiably proud of their perennial standing in the top five percent in the state on standardized testing, even higher when other factors are considered. DMUSD teachers and administrators are amongst the highest paid in the state because they, too, are held accountable and appropriately rewarded for performance. Ms. Sutton, with no evidence, claims to speak for stakeholders. Policies she advocates such as consolidating the schools west of I-5 have been rejected by the true stakeholders, generations of DMUSD voters.

Ira Sharp

Del Mar

July 15 issue:

Duncan Brown: Perspective of a former student

I am an alum of Oakcrest and San Dieguito Academy (SDA), taught by a group of exceptionally supportive and knowledgeable teachers. And Duncan Brown was my counselor for my time at SDA. I’ve known Duncan Brown my entire life. My mom is a teacher and has worked closely with his wife for over 25 years. His daughter and I grew up together.

It shocks me to read accusations of Mr. Brown “stalking” and “jumping out of the bushes” at board members, of being “power hungry” separating him from the teachers he represents. These images of some evil person are laughable to anyone who knows Mr. Brown. We all know Duncan Brown to be humble, soft-spoken, supportive and principled.

That evil image of him is laughable, until it isn’t funny anymore. This past year, my mom would describe teaching during the pandemic – the difficulties of the job, yes, but more sadly about the contentious environment brought on by the same people making these attacks on Mr. Brown. One day back in January, I was texting my mom back and forth as she was listening in on a school board meeting. She described how everyone would say how they loved and respected teachers, while continually marginalizing them in decisions about reopening. I responded back to her, “Everyone loves teachers…until they want to be safe or get paid.”

Mr. Brown served me well as my counselor – building my course schedule, writing letters of recommendation, being a smiling face in the office. He also serves my mom, my teachers, and all their colleagues as San Dieguito Faculty Association president – working harder than ever to assure they are supported and heard, so they can focus on doing what they do for kids. That’s the Duncan Brown I know. And I thank him. So should everyone else. He deserves civility and respect from board members and the community.

Julia Herold,

SDA, Class of 2019

July 22 issue:

UPAC vs Tewa

It is impossible to disagree with our former Del Mar City Manager Christa Johnson on her position regarding the undergrounding project for Tewa Court as reported by the Del Mar Times (June 24 issue). Nor is it any surprise that Mayor Terry Gaasterland was the person driving this misguided pilot project.

The Undergrounding Project Advisory Committee (UPAC) essentially completed its task just before Covid lockdowns started in March 2020. We haven’t officially met, Zoomed or been contacted since. Of the nine members who were on the committee prior to Covid the vast majority (7), now all resigned, totally disagree with the Tewa pilot project. Of the other two, one lives within the Tewa area and the other is Dan Quirk. Population density (1A) and Cal Fire hazard (X1A) were the only determining factors used to prioritize the town zones. The UPAC committee unanimously agreed not to use taxpayer Q funds for any existing private projects.

Council member Gaasterland who replaced David Druker, and Dwight Worden were the two advisors to UPAC when we finished in 2020. They all were intimately familiar with the process, the final agreement, and the work that was required.

Interestingly, Gaasterland tried to get the UPAC Scheduling subcommittee to include Tewa in the X1A zone, but it was not considered a reasonable choice by either the engineering consultants nor the Scheduling subcommittee given the pole locations. Obviously Gaasterland continued to pursue this personally with the person representing Tewa under the guise of a pilot project, thus spending the existing Q funds that were targeted for 1A and X1A. This was a “gift of public funds to a handful of property owners”, and not something that UPAC had, or would have agreed to.

Per the Del Mar Times article the estimated cost provided from the people pushing the Tewa agenda was $550,000, however, it has already increased to $760,000. The overall project cost to perform the undergrounding work citywide was, and still remains, elusive for some. The Tewa pilot obviously isn’t shedding any more light on it, and absolutely no more light than if we used the Q funds where they were supposed to go, namely 1A.

Q funds are being used contrary to the UPAC committee’s two years worth of time developing impartial recommendations and, most importantly, not in our city of Del Mar’s taxpayer’s best interests.

Thomas Blakely,

now resigned UPAC member

July 29 issue:

Note: The letter below is in reference to the Del Mar City Council’s consideration and approval of a resolution finding that “decorative landscape structures” are not an allowed use within the required 10-foot landscape setback, pursuant to Del Mar Municipal Code, during the council’s July 26 meeting.

Appreciation to all the people who uphold justice

On July 26 justice finally arrived! Although this justice has come a little later than expected, justice has come! Thank you to our Mayor Terry Gaasterland and Council members Dave Druker and Tracy Martinez. Thank you for your respect for the law and for maintaining fairness.

Before this, I imagined many times that if the illegal structures in the CDM buffer area in dispute were allowed to remain illegally, it would always be a shame for our city in trying to enforce the law in the future. Our Planning Director, Joseph Smith, in order to protect the natural environment on which we live as much as possible, has done his duty responsibly, and worked tirelessly. I give him my high respect! I would also like again to pay tribute to our Mayor Terry Gaasterland and Council members Tracy Martinez and Dave Druker! Thank you for maintaining justice and achieving equality before the law so that the conscientious front-line staff can be more confident and do their work well!

Junie Young

Del Mar

Oppose plan to fence off Del Mar from the bluff

Regarding Mr. Diehl´s article about North County Transit District’s plan to fence off Del Mar from the bluff.

Thank you for writing about the sad ordeal of NCTD wanting to cut Del Mar citizens and tens of thousands of other visitors off from the bluff and beach access via the bluff. We need all the attention we can get and we need help. The proposed fencing by NCTD of the bluff is not something that only affects the people of Del Mar but tens of thousands of people that come yearly to visit our beautiful and untouched nature, not to mention the surfers that come from all of San Diego County to enjoy less crowded waters below the bluff crossings. The visitors and surfers have no idea about the coup that NCTD is planning and that will change our lives.

Please, get the word out to people to protest by sending emails via website delmarbluff.com like over 700 protesters have already done.

It is unclear what change NCTD is referring to when they say their fence plan has decreased from 12,960 to 5,698 feet. Looking at the plans, it seems like the only change is that they now only will fence the east side of the tracks and not both east and west, which pretty much explains the halved fence lengths.

Camilla Rang

Del Mar