Fletcher Cove Community Center: How did we get into this mess?

City staff refers to the Fletcher Cove Community Center (FCCC) controversy as “the Mess.” How did we get into this mess? Let’s recap:

June 2013.

After two years of endless meetings, the rental of the FCCC was placed on the agenda for the June 12 Council meeting for final resolution. At the start of the meeting, two councilmen declared they sided with the neighbors and were against serving alcohol in the center. Nevertheless, it appeared Council was on the verge of a compromise when a third councilman reversed field and announced he also was against any provision that allowed alcohol. In total gridlock, rather than table the item, Council decided not to take any action and subsequently announced the matter would not be brought back for discussion. This meant the center would not be rented for any function. Stunned, a group of citizens decided that since Council could not make a decision, they would submit the matter to the voters in the form of an Initiative.

July 2013.

At the July 12 council meeting, Tom Golich, representing a group called the Friends of the FCCC, announced that as of that morning the Friends submitted the formal paperwork to circulate a petition. Mr. Golich submitted a copy of the petition that has provisions that Special Event permits shall be limited to no more than two weekend days, rental fees shall be nominal and that alcoholic beverage rules for beer and wine, noise restrictions and occupancy shall be per existing provisions of the Municipal Code. At that point the period of negotiation was closed since by law, no modifications can be made to the Initiative. In the first week of circulating petitions, over 1,000 signatures were obtained.

August 2013.

In a special meeting on Aug. 7, Council announced that despite previous statements they would review the issue again. Tom Golich urged Council to adopt the Initiative rather than the measures they were considering. Nevertheless, Council proceeded to compile a list of provisions including restricting events to two a month, restricting wine and beer to two glasses per person, stating cars should not be parked on neighboring streets, restricting the types of instruments that can be used in a band plus eight more restrictions. Council announced their plan to incorporate these provisions into an ordinance at the next Council meeting. This list provided a stark contrast to the Initiative with its limited number of provisions. Subsequent to the meeting, petition circulators noted that Council now was willing to open the center for use for special events but with a dozen restrictions. The petition gatherers encountered no loss in enthusiasm for the Initiative and gathered another 1,000 signatures. On Aug. 27 the petitions formally were submitted to the City Clerk to be forwarded to the Registrar of Voters (ROV) for signature verification. On Aug. 28 Council formally adopted into ordinance form, the dozen restrictions discussed in the Aug. 7 meeting.

September 2013.

Within the next few weeks the ROV will certify the results of the petition. Council who created “the mess” by their formal decision to take no action on June 12, now will determine the outcome of the matter. By law, Council must decide to adopt the Initiative without any modifications or set a date for an election. Should they adopt the Initiative, it will make their Aug. 28 ordinance null and void and limit their ability to impose restrictions on the center’s use beyond those in existing law. Should they opt to set a date for an election, as that date will not fall in the window for the June primary, it will require a special election costing $200,000-plus. If the voters approve the Initiative, again it will override the Aug. 28 ordinance and limit Council’s ability to impose restrictions beyond those in the Initiative and the Municipal Code. If the voters reject the Initiative, the Aug. 28 ordinance will continue to be in effect and Council has full powers to amend or repeal that ordinance. Question: Is spending $200,000-plus warranted to provide Council the authority to micromanage the rental process? If you decide no, tell council members not to spend $200,000-plus to hold a special election.

Dick Freeland

Solana Beach