Opinion/Letters to the Editor October 2021


Oct. 7 issue:

Getting the job done for Del Mar

Fiscal responsibility has driven the Del Mar City Council’s actions since the current Council convened in January of this year. What steps have we taken to best use City resources which are still impacted by COVID-19?

Cost savings by avoiding the need for a referendum on the high-density zone changes in the North Commercial zone. Unknown to most residents, the 2013 city council (Don Mosier, Sheryl Parks, Lee Haydu, Al Corti, Terry Sinnott) designated high-density in the entire North Commercial zone, including giving Watermark “by right” development without Design Review. The current Council reduced the upzoned area by half from 16 acres to 8 parcels. All parcels along the wetlands were set aside and protected from development. Further, wildfire evacuation planning is now underway. A degraded, private section of San Dieguito Road is essential for safe evacuation and is under consideration for timely repair.

Eliminating the need for an expensive referendum saved an estimated $175,000 election expense.

Cost savings through changes in the city manager office.

Changing the city manager early and seamlessly, without adding new staff, saved over $100,000.

Our new interim city manager is a fantastic fit. She has been with the City of Del Mar for many years and understands our City well. She lives nearby and cares deeply about the well being of all Del Mar residents.

Cost savings by launching an Undergrounding Pilot Project.

As we pursue a small pilot project up 10th St. to Tewa to Klish, we are learning many nuances and making numerous choices about how to proceed. Most importantly, we are learning ways to save money – lessons that will be applied to the much larger Crest/Oribia (“X1A”) and South Stratford Court (“1A”) projects. We expect cost savings on the larger projects to more than offset the cost of the pilot. An undergrounding pilot project was the fiscally sound move.

These are just a few examples. Strong fiscal responsibility has driven the decisions of this Del Mar City Council for the past nine months and will continue to do so.

Back in December 2020, we pledged to seek consensus and to keep pushing to polish policies until they have 4 or 5 votes and meet the needs of Del Mar’s residents. Last week, as Mayor, 8 City Council resolutions passed since June were signed. Except for one (4-1), all were unanimous (5-0) after vigorous discussion and responding to public input. Moreover, all our decisions were fiscally sound.

Terry Gaasterland, City of Del Mar Mayor

Tracy Martinez, Council Member

This letter was submitted by Terry Gaasterland and Tracy Martinez, as individuals, not on behalf of the City or the Council.

Setting an example for us all appreciated

To an anonymous customer of VG Donut & Bakery:

One morning recently, I dropped my wallet in the parking lot in front of VG Donut & Bakery. An anonymous person gave my wallet to a staff person at VG’s. Megan, the manager that day and a part of the family-owned business, said they have a Lost & Found box and a policy of having staff “just put anything in there, no need to check the contents”.

When I arrived, they asked for my name and address and returned with a smile and with everything intact in the wallet that I lost! I received my wallet with an even larger smile of relief!

In these days of dissension and mistrust in our society, I just wanted to share with you all that there are many people that “do unto others as they would have others do unto them”. An old expression of our parents! ... but a good one to pass along. This person and the staff at VG Donut & Bakery have set an example for us all.

Thank you all,

Howard Anderson

Del Mar

Kudos to local Shake Shack for upmost professionalism

I would like to express to the Del Mar Times that my experience with the shopping center at One Paseo Living has been interesting at times. But, most importantly, when someone acknowledges an individual on the spectrum in the most kindest way I think they should be recognized. Being a resident in Del Mar, I shop a lot, every day, and I take my son, who is now 20 years old and has autism, out with me to get acquainted to these experiences and lessen his anxiety about having to speak to others and facing his fears. I have informed the manager of Shake Shack but also wanted to share with other vendors how important it is to treat others with respect and kindness but also not to judge. I know while we still are wearing “masks” it’s difficult to see facial expressions, etc. Many times my son has been out on his own and he says he is judged, rushed and people are impatient with him and say the most hurtful things. Yes, this is happening in our neighborhoods. Multiple occasions over and over again people at Shake Shack should be recognized for their upmost professionalism and heartfelt customer service as an example for others in our area.

Rebekah Mihas

Del Mar

Oct. 14 issue:

A policy against Critical Race Theory will have negative consequences

At an upcoming school board meeting (after press time for this newspaper), SDHUSD interim Superintendent Lynch will present a policy that states Critical Race Theory (CRT) will not be taught in schools. This policy not only demonstrates a grave misunderstanding of CRT but will also suppress much-needed conversations about racism and inequity in schools.

Critics of CRT misappropriate the term to instill fear. They argue that it teaches “white guilt” or that it dishonors American history. However, CRT’s focus is on how institutions are systemically racist, not individuals. It does not cast students into roles of oppressors and victims, and the misuse of the term has become a way to prevent the discussion of racism, thus ensuring the inequities embedded in educational systems continue.

A ban on CRT, when it is already so misunderstood, can become a form of intimidation. Our teachers and administrators will not feel supported when addressing issues related to race, gender identity or any other “controversial topic” in the classroom. For example, if a teacher wants to discuss a topical issue such as affirmative action, slated to be taken up by the Supreme Court this term, the teacher may reconsider due to a fear of breaching the CRT ban. Such actions will not only further disenfranchise underserved students but also lead to missed educational opportunities and potentially violate California Teaching Standards which stress the importance of making learning relevant through meaningful, real-world contexts.

As a former teacher and school counselor, I know that the best way to communicate my expectations is to explain things to students in the affirmative as opposed to the negative. That is the case here. A more powerful, proactive and useful policy would center students rather than the critics in our community. It would clearly state why it is crucial for educators to explicitly address issues of race, ethnicity, sexual and gender identity, and different language, learning, and physical abilities in the curriculum and classrooms. With clear guidelines from the board and the administration, our teachers will be empowered to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of all our students.

I understand the complexity of these issues and the emotions they generate. Decisions that bring about real change are difficult, but we cannot be afraid of hard conversations. There is no perfect way forward, but with adequate training, intentional programming, and clear leadership, there is a road that takes us closer to where we hope to be. In lieu of a counterproductive CRT ban, the board should craft a well-articulated policy in support of an anti-bias curriculum that is rooted in action, not fear.

Marina Fleming

Solana Beach resident

Keep Torrey Pines attached to both Carmel Valley and La Jolla in District 1

The Torrey Pines community is a coastal community composed of 2,600 acres in the northwest corner of the City and is in District 1. Our community is bordered by the City of Del Mar and the Pacific Ocean to the west, Interstate 5 to the east, and University City to the south. The community features include: Torrey Pine trees, the Los Penasquitos lagoon wetlands, sandstone bluffs, parts of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and Crest Canyon leading down to the San Dieguito River park and its ecological reserve. Members of our community serve on the boards of all of these foundations.

The residential neighborhoods are the Del Mar Heights and Del Mar Terrace areas. Our community is in the Del Mar Union and San Dieguito Union High School Districts along with Carmel Valley. While having the beautiful beaches and natural parks of Torrey Pines and Crest Canyon in our neighborhood, we are a park-deficit community and consider ourselves fortunate that the DMUSD allows unofficial joint use of their fields. We are able to use many of Carmel Valley parks, library and recreation centers. Our children play together on the same sports teams, and are members of the same Boy Scouts and Girl Scout troops as the children in Carmel Valley.

Since our area is coastal, we share the same concerns as La Jolla and the University community regarding our beaches, bluffs and rising sea levels. We have the same interest in protecting the native species on both land and in the sea. We share the same wildlife corridors which we try to protect even as our houses abut them.

Many of our community members work in biotech, healthcare and for UCSD. Many of them share what may be the most beautiful short commute in San Diego County going from either Del Mar Heights Road or Carmel Valley Road and up Torrey Pines Road.

For all of the reasons stated above, the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board unanimously asks the redistricting committee to keep our small community attached to both Carmel Valley and to La Jolla in District 1.

Liz Shopes

Vice Chair, Torrey Pines Community Planning Board

Oct. 21 issue:

A need for school choice

The last 18 months have brought much-needed attention and discussion to matters regarding racial inequities embedded in our institutions. Nowhere is this more obvious than in our education system. We, in this community, are blessed with the privilege to send our children to some of the best schools in the country where they are given the best opportunities to excel in life. Sadly, many other families are not afforded that luxury. The grim reality is that California’s PK-12 education ranks #40 in our nation.. Five out of 10 students, grades 3 to 8, can’t read at the grade level, and 6 out of 10 are not proficient in math. Luckily, we now have the opportunity to correct this imbalance by voting for school choice.

Californians for School Choice has submitted a ballot initiative called the Education Freedom Act. This initiative will grant every parent of a K-12 child the opportunity to establish an Educational Savings Account. Each account will receive an equal share of Prop 98 state education dollars (currently $14,000 per student per year). Parents can then use these funds to enroll and pay for tuition at any accredited private school of their choice. Per the American Federation for Children: “The vast majority of credible evidence shows that school choice programs improve academic outcomes for not only the program participants but also the students in public schools; save taxpayers money; and reduce racial segregation.” Starting October 31st, Californians for School Choice will begin collecting signatures in order to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. I encourage everyone to learn about the benefits of school choice for every child and consider supporting this powerful initiative to bring about positive change for our historically underserved communities. The road to a better future starts with education. More information can be found at californiaschoolchoice.org.

Nirit Luchans

Carmel Valley

School board handled issue in an altruistic way

I am writing in response to the article titled “Critical Race Theory ban removed from San Dieguito agenda,” published on your website on Oct. 18. From my understanding, your article focuses on the ban upon Critical Race Theory (CRT) as how it should not be a part of San Dieguito’s school curriculum or taught in classrooms. The quote, “The instruction shall not reflect adversely upon persons because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, religion, or any other basis prohibited by law,” displays the rule as presented in this district. The school board handled this situation in a very altruistic way. The school understood the problem and fixed it in a way that was professional and considerate which is something that I can take away from this article, that faculty knows when they are wrong and what to do when problems like this come up. The interdependence of the district, board, and family members holds each accountable for situations like these. Overall, the way this article addresses the issue and faces it head on is important in today’s society as problems sprout rapidly in our daily lives.


Lilly Etheridge

San Marcos

What has happened to the Del Mar Way?

I recently read two articles on Del Mar’s rental assistance program. Both seem to indicate an indifference on the part of the City Council and the City staff for the wellbeing of some of Del Mar’s most vulnerable citizens. The City staff proposed to eliminate the rental assistance program. The City Council would not, or could not, make a decision, but did decide to hire an outside consultant to study the issue. The rental assistance program has an annual cost of $94,000. What will be the cost for the consultant — one year, two years, maybe even three years of the rental assistance program?

The term “Del Mar Way” was coined in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the greens and the grays disagreed, but sat down and negotiated solutions. Volunteer citizen advisory committees were formed from the vast array of expertise in the Del Mar population to help the Council with tough issues.

How do we find our way back to the Del Mar Way?

Larry D. Brooks

Del Mar