By Solana Beach City Council member Lesa Heebner
Last week, every resident in Solana Beach received a mailer and/or email regarding a potential costly Special Election on the use policy for the Fletcher Cove Community Center. It asked you to tell your Council members you are “not in favor of spending our scarce taxpayer dollars on a Special Election for the Fletcher Cove Community Center.”
Thank you for your emails and postcards. I agree with you.
But do you know why we are even talking about this? You might be interested in a little background. The use policy at the newly renovated Fletcher Cove Community Center (FCCC) came up a couple years ago. I was in favor of a trial period to see how it went: try out a few parties per month, beer and wine allowed, parking in designated lots, no DJs, ambient music okay, etc. Others on the Council were for some aspects; not for others. Some neighbors were for; others absolutely against. Studies were done, meetings were held. It became very controversial, divisive and emotional.
During the latter part of this summer you probably saw signature gatherers at the grocery store asking you to sign a petition to allow private parties at the FCCC.
What you were probably not told by them was that signing the petition meant the city would be forced to spend $250,000 for a Special Election. The people behind this petition announced they were intent on gathering 15 percent of our voters’ signatures to force a Special Election. They achieved that mark.
By law, they could turn their petition in to the city anytime within six months. Early submission meant a $250,000 Special Election; later submission meant a $20,000 General Election in June.
Rather than do the prudent thing, they turned in their petition early, thereby forcing a $250,000 Special Election.
Isn’t it interesting that they are now saying they don’t want an expensive Special Election? Also, isn’t it interesting that they spent thousands to send a postcard to you and every other household in the city to ask you to ask us not to spend the money for the election they forced by submitting the signatures early? Yes…you read right: the people who sent you the postcard are the very ones who gathered the signatures and turned them in early, forcing a $250,000 Special Election!
Why? What do they want?
They want the city to adopt their idea for how the FCCC should be used.
By the way, the City does have a use policy in place for the FCCC that allows private parties. It’s known as the Compromise Policy because it takes into consideration public safety concerns, the concerns of the neighbors as well as the desires of those who want to hold parties there.
But there’s more!
You were also not told by the signature gatherers that by utilizing the Initiative process and forcing an expensive Special Election, the use policy for the FCCC cannot be adjusted except by another expensive election! Any public safety concerns that may arise from raucous parties, overuse of alcohol, bands playing outside every weekend, party goers’ cars parked in front of homes every weekend in a neighborhood like yours, cannot be corrected by your City Council. Instead, any adjustments to the policy have to go to another expensive election.
My foremost responsibility as your council member is to ensure public safety. Their Initiative process preempts your elected representatives from doing their job. As a steward of your public safety, whether we adopt their “our way or the highway” policy, or go to a Special Election and lose, in either case your City Council will not be able to assure the public health, safety and wellbeing of the community. Our hands will be tied.
Furthermore, our budget must continue to be managed by your council members, not forced into unnecessary expenditures by a well-funded minority faction who want their way.
So where does this leave us?
The Council will make a decision between the following options by mid-November:
- Go to an expensive Special Election in February with the public voting for or against their “our way or the highway” Initiative;
- Go to an expensive Special Election in February with the public voting on their “our way or the highway” Initiative AND competing measure(s) submitted by the community or the council;
- Adopt their “our way or the highway” Initiative language and simultaneously call for a regularly scheduled election in June ($20,000) with the public voting on a community — or council — authored measure on the use policy at the FCCC.
As I said, I’ve been in favor of limited private parties with beer and wine at the FCCC since this conversation began a couple years ago. I still am, but not without the ability of the Council to correct problems if they arise. Don’t be fooled by these people! They are banking on the fact that you are busy living your life and not paying close attention to city issues. Given you took the time to read this editorial, I know you care about our little town and are probably paying more attention than most. After reading the above, I’d like to know what your thoughts are. #1, #2 or #3 above? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org