Five Carmel Valley stories to watch in 2012


By Karen Billing

Carmel Mountain Preserve

The trail portion of the resource management plan for the Del Mar Mesa and Carmel Mountain Preserves received most of the attention, but the constant delays affected much more than hikers, bikers and equestrians itching to get back on approved trails. The delay also held up grant-funded restoration projects that have been planned for the 300-acre preserve.

“Finalizing that plan has been the main hurdle,” said David Hogan, of the Chaparral Lands Conservancy. “We expect once we’ve been given the OK we’ll get all our permits signed off by everybody by spring to break ground in summer 2012.”

The preserve is home to one of the largest remaining patches of endangered Southern maritime chaparral, as well as several “unique and imperiled species,” such as the short-leaved dudleya that only grows in five other places on the planet.

Hogan’s project will focus on restoring the habitats of both, as well as improving the vernal pools, home to fairy shrimp and Western spade foot toads.

“The planning on these projects is incredible, it’s a very arduous process,” said Hogan of the RMP that has been 10 years in the making. “It will be very gratifying to get some work done on the ground as opposed to sitting at a desk.”

New superintendent at SBSD

With Superintendent Leslie Fausset’s impending retirement, the Solana Beach School District is in search of a new leader. Fausset has led the district, which includes three schools in Carmel Valley, for the last six years. The board of trustees is continuing on its search and Fausset has said she will stay on until the new superintendent is hired. The board took a break for winter, but will pick up the search again in January.

The district is in good shape with all three Carmel Valley schools improving on their Academic Performance Index scores in 2011; Carmel Creek recorded the highest API score in the district with 953.

Kilroy’s One Paseo

Many questions have been raised about the impacts of a new “Main Street for Carmel Valley,” the mixed use retail center called One Paseo planned for El Camino Real and Del Mar Heights Road. One Paseo’s plan includes about 1.8 million square feet (just over 800,000 square feet is for retail and office uses, and the balance is residential and hotel) and will require a community plan amendment.

Some residents are looking forward to the new shops, eateries and movie theater that the project will bring. Others have been very concerned with the size of the project, and what kind of traffic it will bring.

Many of those questions will be looked at in the draft environmental impact report that is expected to be released in January.

Kilroy continues to make an effort toward hearing the community’s opinions by hosting a series of small group meetings at its Carmel Valley offices on Jan. 17 at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m., and Thursday, Jan. 19, at 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. Those interested in providing input on the project or wanting to learn more about One Paseo can RSVP for the meetings at

Mayoral and City Council races

In 2012, voters will decide the next mayor of San Diego after Mayor Jerry Sanders terms out after seven years.

Although 15 people have filed statements of intention to run for mayor of San Diego, only six candidates have taken the next step to file their committee organization: Carl DeMaio, Bonnie Dumanis, Bob Filner, Nathan Fletcher, Sunny Enyoghwergo and Tobiah Lee Pettus.

The City Council could also be shaken up as voters will make decisions in five of the nine districts. Current District 1 Councilmember Sherri Lightner will be up for re-election, so far running against Raymond Ellis.

Primaries will be held June 5 leading up to the Nov. 6 election.

Jennie Frager

This 6’6 Torrey Pines High volleyball player has already committed to play at UCLA in 2013.

“She’s one of my favorite kids of all time,” said Jud Buechler, Jennie’s coach on her Wave volleyball squad.

Buechler said Jennie stands out most obviously because of her 6’6 size, but it’s also how she’s able to use it — she’s extremely athletic and moves well.

Buechler, who has coached Jennie for five years, said it didn’t always come easy for her. She had to grow into her size and work a little harder to become a better player. It meant not getting much playing time when she was younger.

“The real gem in this whole thing is that she’s so grounded by her incredible parents. Nobody ever complained that she wasn’t playing, they believed in what I was doing, they were patient,” Buechler said.

Working hard on her passing skills, hitting and blocking made the difference and when Jennie was 15 she completely dominated, becoming the best middle blocker in all of Southern California, earning first team All American honors and catching the attention of UCLA, which offered her a full-ride scholarship.

An ankle sprain and a torn elbow tendon kept her out for much of her 2011 Wave and junior TPHS season, but Buechler has confidence she’ll be ready to strike in 2012, when she’ll help defend the team’s 2011 CIF championship.

“It’s just one of those all-time feel good stories,” said Buechler. “A tall girl, kinda awkward, grows into her body, works hard, doesn’t complain and gets rewarded at the end.”

Besides Jennie, Torrey Pines is churning out tons of volleyball talent: Gigi Cresto will play at Utah in 2012; Karly Drolson at UCLA; and junior Maddy Kerr has also already committed for 2013 to play at UC Berkeley. Additionally, Jennie’s Wave teammate, Katelyn Cuff, who plays high school volleyball for Santa Fe Christian, has already committed to Colorado for 2013.