Opinion/Letters to the Editor August 2021

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Aug. 5 issue:

Del Mar Horsepark Olympians

Congratulations to Del Mar Horsepark supporters who led the U.S. Equestrian Dressage Team to a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Two of the four-member team live in San Diego and three are from California, an international center for equestrian sports.

This was Steffen Peters’ 5th Olympics and 3rd medal. He operates the 25-acre Arroyo Del Mar training facility for other top horses and riders, located 6 miles from Del Mar Horsepark. Steffen also helped train fellow team member and California resident Sabine Schut-Kery, as well as U.S. Team Coach Debbie MacDonald. This was the first Olympics for Nick Wagman, who was an early apprentice of another local Olympian, Gunther Seidel. Nick now runs his own equestrian training facility near Horsepark.

They were able to overcome the disruption from the closure of Del Mar Horsepark and cancellation of the Del Mar National Horse Show. This hurt many other riders’ Olympic dreams since California held only two qualifying shows in 2021. As a result, only those who could move their horses to Florida, which offers multiple qualifier events from December through April, could earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

Now the 22nd DAA is giving local equestrians renewed hope for future Olympic glory as Del Mar Horsepark is on track to reopen after the selection of an experienced equestrian operator to lease and renovate the historic facility. The 75-year-old Del Mar National Horse Show also returns to the Fairgrounds after a two-year hiatus.

With more qualification events at Horsepark and the Del Mar National Horse Show, many more West Coast riders and horses will be able to compete and qualify for the U.S. equestrian team thanks to the 22nd DAA. This will be especially important when the Olympic Games return to LA in 2028.

When the Olympics were previously held in Southern California in 1984 and 1932, U.S. equestrians won 10 medals (4 gold, 4 silver, and 2 bronze) in dressage, show jumping, and eventing. Go team USA!

Laura DeMarco

Co-founder, Friends of Del Mar Horsepark

Carla Echols-Hayes

Co-founder, Friends of Del Mar Horsepark

Aug. 19 issue:

Sea level rise threatens San Onofre nuclear waste

No matter where you live, a new scientific report on global warming can give you something to worry about.

Deadly heat waves, severe droughts, sprawling wildfires — the report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change offers something scary for everybody.

Especially if your community or neighborhood nuclear waste dump is threatened by sea level rise.

That applies to most of us.

At San Onofre, 3.6 million pounds of deadly radioactive waste is stored in steel canisters 100 feet from the ocean.

The report concludes that ocean levels have risen 8 inches on average during the past century and, since 2006, the rate of increase has doubled.

It gets worse.

If global warming increases, the destabilization of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland could add another three feet to sea-level rise this century.

Even with 1 to 2 feet of projected sea level rise, flooding that would inundate coastal cities once a century would become commonplace.

That doesn’t bode well for our coastal communities or Southern California Edison’s waste dump at San Onofre.

We’re kept up at night by visions of a rising sea swamping the storage facility and clogging its cooling systems with salt, sand and other marine gunk. If the cooling systems fail, nothing in the world would prevent the overheating, melting and catastrophic release of radiation from 123 massive, jam-packed, steel canisters.

Does the location of the San Onofre nuclear waste dump concern you?

Contact Edison and your elected representatives and let them know how you feel.

Learn more at samuellawrencefoundation.org

Cathy Iwane

Del Mar

Aug. 26 issue:

COVID safety concerns need to be addressed by SDUHSD

Now that teachers and students are back in classes, COVID safety concerns must be addressed. These are six key areas that need to be tackled comprehensively and immediately by SDUHSD.

Inadequate Ventilation/Filtration

The CDC, CDPH, and County say it is critical there is air flow in rooms for the safety of students and staff. Students and teachers are reporting that HVAC and HEPA systems aren’t working and requests to fix them are ineffective. This creates unsafe learning environments. All classrooms must have at least 5 air exchanges per hour, the minimum number to maintain healthy air.

Masking Specifics/Enforcement

The August 19 proposed masking policy weakened the existing, board-adopted policy. It doesn’t include a definition of a proper face covering. It removes consequences for unmasking and puts enforcement on teachers rather than administrators. The policy adopted by the board on December 15, 2020 should be reinstated and strengthened.

COVID Notifications

Currently, the district will only notify families when there is a COVID case on campus or if a person is determined to be a close contact. Notifications are not being sent in a timely manner. Families should be notified when there is a positive case in a child’s classroom.

Symptom Considerations

SDUHSD is overwhelmed by contact tracing, and cases will continue to increase. There is no symptom check in place. In at least one case, a COVID+ student came to campus for two days thinking symptoms were allergies. Not acceptable. Some districts, not SDUHSD, sent clear instructions and a mandatory agreement to sign as a condition to learn on campus. SDUHSD must do a better job of communicating with families about symptoms and testing.

Surveillance COVID Testing

For testing to be most effective, it should be required and regular for everyone. Tests are free to schools. LA Unified, Culver City, and Santa Monica have implemented required surveillance testing and have found many asymptomatic positives. Other districts are working toward surveillance testing. Even with universal masking, without surveillance testing, around 20-35% of susceptible students would get infected by the end of the first semester. SDUHSD needs to implement a required surveillance testing program immediately.

COVID Prevention Staff

SDUHSD has not made additional hires related to COVID and has lost health techs. Contact tracing is falling to the assistant principals, who should be working on other issues. Building maintenance related to COVID is being piled onto a stretched-thin maintenance staff. No staff have been hired to administer testing or to ensure necessary training is taking place.

We call on SDUHSD to address these issues immediately to keep our community safe. Thank you.

Shannon Kearns

Holly Butte

On behalf of many SDUHSD parents. To see a full list, visit Open San Dieguito Safely on Facebook and Instagram

SB 9 would help ease the current housing crisis

There is no doubt that California, particularly our beautiful coastline, has a severe shortage of middle-income housing. The lack of such housing is driving the displacement and severe rent burden of Californians across the state. Many valued members of our communities are being priced out by rising rents and home costs. Senate Bill 9 would incentivize middle-income housing and it’s environmentally friendly by encouraging more energy efficient-homes and discouraging sprawl.

SB 9 would allow a duplex to be built on a lot zoned for one home. It would also allow subdivision of an existing parcel to build two duplexes if the lot meets certain criteria. Currently, you can only build a large home (and in some instances, an ADU and junior ADU) on a single-family lot, but not two or four smaller ones in the same footprint. SB 9 offers a partial solution to the current housing crisis, while considering the environmental efficiency of sharing a wall.

Opponents of SB 9 fear that this policy will radically change the look and character of our communities. We disagree. Under SB 9, proposals must adhere to local zoning and design standards for implementation of this policy. It also requires that lot splits create two parcels of similar size, each with minimum standards of 1,200 square feet. It largely limits alteration or demolition of existing structures, and allows local governments to limit additional ADUs on these parcels.

On larger lots with small homes that have reached the end of their economic lifespan, it would be productive and thoughtful to allow a slight increase in density so that we can continue to house the wonderful people who live and work in our community. Housing that is close to where residents work reduces lengthy commutes and fossil fuel usage. Building in areas that are already established decreases urban sprawl into open spaces. And, as our climate heats up, people will be driven to nature’s air conditioner, the Pacific Ocean. We must be ready for this coming migration. Fires will make the back country challenging, limiting our options for housing our current and future population.

The current popularity of turning permanent homes into vacation rentals has exacerbated our housing shortage. SB 9 would also legislate that this additional housing be designated long-term only to ensure we can continue to have enough long-term residents in our town to support our local restaurants and businesses. SB 9 also contains important protections against displacement of existing tenants. As residents of Solana Beach, we support SB 9 as a small step towards easing the current housing crisis with creative and respectful solutions.

Kristin Brinner

Shawna McGarry

Progress Solana

Worthwhile work

When the results of the last Del Mar City Council election were finalized, many in the electorate were hopeful that a truly representative council had been put in place.

In many ways this has held true.

1. Committees: Qualified citizens who had volunteered for years without success, were finally given their opportunity to serve.

2. The sea level rise statement policy was withdrawn from the Coastal Commissions purview and put in our Community Plan where it belonged. Ergo:

a. Our Coastal Plan is legal and in place.

B. Our sea-level rise statement is in our legal Community Plan.

C. Our sea-walls are now relatively free of threats such as “managed retreat” until 2063.

D. There are many other worthwhile concerns which have or will have been addressed during the tenure of this City Council.

Having stated the above, I do have a concern regarding the handling of The Winston School contract.

1. The Winston School has a 50-year contract for the current lease for the property on which it is situated.

2. The Winston School contributed $3 million toward the purchase of the Shores Park (of the $9 million total).

3. I feel it has been a good neighbor and a great asset to our community.

4. I have no skin in the game regarding The Winston School. I have worked with “at risk” youth for my entire 40-year career in athletics. I have taught blind children how to swim. I recognize great worthwhile work when I see it.

The Winston School does exceptional worthwhile work. I urge the City Council to work with The Winston School to come to an agreement on the school’s lease. I sense the lease dispute is a land grab for affordable housing. We have other city properties, the fairgrounds and other choices for housing, without dispensing with our only remaining school site.

Owen Hahn

Del Mar

Council should honor Winston School’s 55-year lease

My neighbors and I, who live near The Winston School, approve of their renovation plans which are a great improvement and the least disruptive to our quiet neighborhood. We all assumed that Winston’s plans would be approved at the Del Mar City Council’s hastily called “special meeting” last week …when many of us were on vacation or at the beach.

Instead, we discovered that the Council treated Winston School unfairly and unjustly. After reviewing video of the very short Council meeting with the perspective of an experienced businessman and former navy captain, I found the proceedings very upsetting and disturbing. Justice and fair play are very important to me: bit.ly/delmarmeeting

First, the Council voted to disallow any responses Winston made in compliance with the city’s requests after their supposed deadline. The Council ignored the fact that the school’s architect submitted plans to the planning department four days before the July 23 deadline, but didn’t receive any feedback until July 29, six days after the deadline. Surely this is not fair?

In response to the city’s request to move a trash dumpster and submit a traffic and parking engineering report as an addendum to the school’s proposed staff parking plan, the school’s architect complied in his submission the day before the Aug. 11 special council meeting.

Despite the architect’s compliance with the city’s requests, the Council voted to disallow his submission. Again, does this seem fair? This apparently cleared the way for the Council’s next ruling: Winston’s plans were deemed not “complete“ so the school’s lease could be terminated early, in year 13 of a 55-year lease, and only three weeks before the start of a new school year!

This does not seem fair to me.

I hope it is not so, but this did seem like a land grab by our Council, which is admittedly keen to find property to develop high-density housing to meet required state mandates. Shores Park and The Winston School should not be developed for housing in a move that has the appearance of a backroom deal.

Ironically, Winston School earned their 55-year lease as our community’s partner in the Shores Park acquisition by contributing $3 million and helping raise another $2.5 million to fund the city’s purchase of the land that the Council is now trying to evict them from.

My neighbors and I support our good neighbor, The Winston School, and must ask that our elected Council operate on our behalf in a manner that is open, just and fair to our community partner who helped us save Shores Park. Thus, the Council should honor Winston School’s 55-year lease and approve their renovation plans.

George Beatty

Del Mar