Fairgrounds CEO gave greenway misinformation

By Jacqueline Winterer

President, Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley

I wish to point out some factual errors in the published comments of Mr. Timothy Fennell, Del Mar Fairgrounds CEO.

  • Senate Bill 1177 proposes the creation of a 100-foot greenway and trail along the southern edge of the Fairgrounds property. This 100-foot setback is a standard setback required of all upcoming coastal developments by the California Coastal Act and would only be implemented when the Fairgrounds Master Plan itself is implemented. The date of 2014 for implementation was drawn from the Fairgrounds construction time line presented in their 2009 Master Plan. Senator Kehoe has frequently stated that the greenway timeline could be adjusted; SB 1177 has now been modified to accommodate the Fairgrounds modified timeline, postponing by the implementation of the Fairgrounds Master Plan by seven to 10 years.
  • Recycling revenue: 71 percent of recycling material is generated by the horses and is not processed in the area of the proposed greenway. The March 9, 2010, Fairgrounds agenda for the Board of Directors’ meeting reported that 8,566 tons of recycled material was manure, which is generated near the stables and at the Horse Park facility. Moving the recycling center out of the greenway is a minor project and would not eliminate the recycling program.
  • Environmental stewardship: the Fairgrounds doesn’t comply with environmental laws as stated by Mr. Fennell. In a 2003 decision the Coastal Commission has specifically re-stated its position that the Fairgrounds could only use the dirt lots during the fair and racing seasons because those lots were wetlands that have been filled. In defiance of this State of California ruling, the Fairgrounds uses these lots for pumpkin and Christmas tree sales, large storage trailers and numerous instances of parking other than during the Fair and Races. Without getting the required permits, the Fairgrounds builds huge advertisements along the freeway in defiance of the federal law which prohibits such advertisement.
  • Master Plan Greenway: Finally the Master Plan “greenway” as proposed by the Fairgrounds for the northern riverbank west of Jimmy Durante Boulevard is in fact a 12- to 14-foot-high landscaped levee which would deflect flood waters on the city of Del Mar’s public works building and a residential neighborhood. The SB 1177 Greenway would afford an area that would help absorb flood waters rather than concentrating their destructive force on City of Del Mar properties.

If the leadership of the Del Mar Fairgrounds would invest more time considering how they might support California laws, they might not need to waste so much time in self-serving misinformation campaigns.