Opinion/Letters to the Editor November 2021
Nov. 4 issue:
Thank you for saving the field!
This past Saturday, I got to sit at the upper field of Earl Warren Middle School and watch my daughter and her friends play in one of the final games of their long recreational soccer careers. That in itself was a joy -- seeing these high school girls who are in the thick of college applications take a break from the stress, just for the fun of playing a game they still love. But even better was looking down to the lower field and seeing two games of little soccer players.
For those who don’t know, the lower field was slated to be the new San Dieguito School District offices. The field was to be replaced by yet another building and parking lot. But instead, people spoke up and fought to preserve it as a playing field. And the San Dieguito District listened. They chose to modernize their current district offices, rather than take this precious resource away from the kids.
And so instead of construction – destruction – on that field, I got to watch as little ones were introduced to the sport of soccer, while their younger siblings played together on the sidelines and parents chatted. Families enjoying a beautiful fall day. For some of these kids, it could become the sport that gains them admission to prestigious universities. For others, a sport that they will simply enjoy, a welcome diversion in a busy, stressful life. But for all, it is a wonderful memory of childhood.
In this time of declining enrollments and rising property values in our mature coastal communities, it is understandable that a school district could see its properties as “assets”-- something to be sold to the highest bidder, while paving over other district properties and crowding children onto them. A quick profit for a permanent loss. It is admirable that San Dieguito district was able to see the bigger picture, and resist this temptation.
So, to San Dieguito District: Thank you. Thank you for truly caring about the kids of this community, and understanding your responsibility to their health and happiness. Thank you for understanding that education is so much more than what happens within the walls of a classroom. And to the people who fought to preserve this field: Thank you. Thank you for refusing to allow our kids’ childhoods to be sold at a rummage sale of surplus district properties. Thank you for taking time from your schedules to fight for all kids, even if your own are grown. Thank you for caring. And thank you for saving the field!
Bring redistricting back to citizens and their communities
When our former City Councilmember Sherri Lightner declared “this stinks”, referring to the San Diego Redistricting Commission’s latest proposed map of city districts, she was forcefully pushing back on plans to break up the District 1 communities of Del Mar Mesa and University City.
Which leads us to the curious case of the map under final consideration that would put the small community of Torrey Highlands north of SR56 into a new District 6 running through Kearny Mesa to Mira Mesa creating three council districts along the SR56 corridor.
Despite having no population or transportation connections to Mira Mesa, the Commission has commandeered Del Mar Mesa Preserve out of District 1 and away from the Del Mar Mesa community.
Our natural habitat areas can’t speak for themselves. Endangered wildlife and plant communities rely on citizens for their defense and our elected representatives to respond by promoting prudent planning policies.
The latest map proposed by the Redistricting Commission shamefully disrespects Del Mar Mesa Preserve and the Torrey Highland Del Mar Mesa communities that have traditionally provided stewardship with support from District 1 and District 5.
This is contrary to the requirements of redistricting that communities have connectivity and are compact. Further, it splits the small community of Del Mar Mesa into two council districts which is a total waste of resources.
And so we wonder if this map has more to do with developer interests than those of our communities.
Torrey Highlands’ planning area already has approvals for commercial buildings. Under a sympathetic councilmember, those buildings could double or triple in size. We in Torrey Hills and Carmel Valley know that better than anyone as buildings in our planning areas have also morphed in size.
Cisterra Development got an up zone for a low intensity property jutting into Del Mar Mesa Preserve in Torrey Highlands (a windfall to Cisterra of $20 million) by virtue of support from the District 6 Councilmember but opposed by then District 1 Councilmember Bry. Other developers hope to follow in Cisterra’s footsteps and believe it will be easier in a newly configured District 6.
Redistricting is not supposed to be about advancing the fortunes of one industry over neighborhoods and natural resources.
The scent of undue influence is wafting over this redistricting process. Let’s bring it back to citizens and their communities. I encourage residents to attend meetings and submit comments supporting District 1 to the San Diego Redistricting Commission at www.sandiego.gov/redistricting-commission
Nov. 11 issue:
Torrey Pines Community Planning Board position on redistricting
The letter below was sent to the Redistricting Commission of the City of San Diego and to this newspaper for publication.
This letter is written to express the clear and concise position of the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board regarding the City of San Diego Council Redistricting effort currently underway.
The Torrey Pines Community Planning Board wishes to express its strong support for the Redistricting Map approved by the Commission in an 8-1 vote on October 29, 2021. The map is shown on this page.
The Torrey Pines Community Planning Board has previously provided written support for the D1 United proposed Redistricting Map as it is generally consistent with the Commission map approved Oct. 29. Our board further supports the adjustments recommended by the D1 United group which shift lines to maintain equal numbers in their districts, since redistricting is about representation of the citizens of San Diego first and foremost. (To see the redistricting maps online go to www.sandiego.gov/redistricting-commission)
The Torrey Pines Community Planning Board jurisdiction includes threatened coastal areas that are vital to our communities and represent the greatest challenges we face in San Diego: rising oceans levels, bluff erosion, and likely significant climate challenges in the near future. These issues must be handled with great attention, focus and consistency up and down the coastal strip of San Diego. Consistent and focused representation is critical to our ability to deal with these challenges.
The Torrey Pines Community Planning Board believes in the cohesion and consistency of representation for Carmel Valley and the Torrey Pines Community. These communities are tied together in their school systems, retail and transportation services, community parks, etc. Consistent representation together with cooperative community planning boards provide the most efficient and effective means of meeting the challenges of these areas. The Torrey Pines Community Planning Board believes the supported maps described above adequately meets our concerns regarding coastal challenges and cohesion with the Carmel Valley community.
Thank you for your attention.
Sent on behalf of the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board by board member Jeff Burges
We must protect the beauty of the Del Mar bluff for future generations
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and North County Transit District (NCTD) have sweeping engineering projects underway and also in planning that will forever destroy the entire 1.7-mile Del Mar coastal bluff and beaches below. The SANDAG/NCTD plans are projected to reinforce railroad tracks on top of the bluff for 20-30 years in the face of inevitable bluff slides within this timeframe due to sea level rise. Without objective, independent review, the SANDAG/NCTD plans will impose environmentally-destructive structures on the bluff’s top, face, and toe, and will bury the adjacent beaches under in-fill behind the seawalls.
For 20 years, local governments have postponed and ignored the necessary relocation of the railway off the fragile bluff. This cannot continue. The railway must be relocated within 7 to 10 years to avoid further engineering expense and environmental destruction.
The environmental impacts of the planned engineering are profound. The natural bluff will be destroyed and replaced by engineering. Beaches will be buried behind continuous seawalls. Public views and beach experience will be ruined. 100 years of public access to the bluff and beaches will be denied. Over time, sea level rise will cause engineering structures to fail and fall onto the beaches.
The Coastal Commission’s legal authority will be undermined if a thorough and independent environment impact review, as required by law, does not happen.
Numerous science and engineering questions about the plans remain unaddressed. The engineering of the proposed structures is excessive and unproven. Objective analysis is lacking and needed, and requires SANDAG/NCTD public response. An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) must be done, as required by CEQA and the California Coastal Act.
We have asked the Coastal Commission to review the plans and pursue the following: Do a 10-year project, not 20 to 30-year. Don’t destroy the bluff and the beaches. Less destructive engineering is possible and necessary.
To protect and preserve the bluff, a 10-year timeline for railway relocation must be implemented now. The beauty of this last remaining natural coastal bluff in San Diego’s North County demands conservation for future generations.
Payson R. Stevens,
Help stop the mayhem
Recently a friend and I had a terrible experience at a Carmel Valley shopping center when several middle school kids shouted profanity at us, mooned us (pulled down their pants) and rode their ebikes and skateboards dangerously close to us. We were so upset that we left the shopping center. Unfortunately no security guards were in the area. I later spoke with the security guard and police department and both indicated that they weren’t going to get involved for fear of being sued by the parents.
So why do 13-year-old kids get to terrorize shoppers with no consequences? I don’t have the answer but I know that we better address this now or we will be paying a bigger price when these kids get older. Someone suggested that the kids were bored but I don’t buy that. Carmel Valley has more parks, sports and activities than most places. So I don’t think boredom is the answer.
If anyone is interested in putting a stop to this mayhem, please contact the police department or school in your area. This behavior is not limited to this area and it won’t stop until we make it a priority for the community.
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