Lagoon panel’s response to fairgrounds plan restricted

Del Mar City Council turned down a request of its Lagoon Committee to submit its own comments to the Del Mar Fairgrounds in response to the recently released master plan draft environmental impact report.

Incoming Mayor Richard Earnest said the city’s response to the 22nd Agricultural Association is one of the most important it will make and it needs to make its point as effectively as possible.

“Our voice needs to speak loudly to the master plan and it should be a singular collective response because it has more weight,” Earnest said.

As the Lagoon Committee is a city committee, chair Dawn Rawls was seeking the council’s approval to send the panel’s comments separately with a disclaimer that it was not part of the city’s official response.

“Over the past 30 years, there’s grown an awareness within the community of the Lagoon Committee as an organization of citizens whose opinions people really pay attention to,” Rawls said.

Rawls said there will be an expectation that it would respond to this most important issue to Del Mar and the lagoon. She argued that the committee won’t be restricted in its candor in response to the DEIR, as opposed to the city’s response, which may be restricted for political reasons.

Councilman Carl Hilliard applauded the committee for the “heart and soul” it put into the work and its attendance at the city’s ad hoc fairgrounds DEIR committee meetings. He said much of its work would be included in the city’s official response.

“I’m very confident that the city’s response to the EIR will be complete in every respect,” Hilliard said.

Hilliard also suggested that the committee, which was established by the city in 1974, consider becoming a nonprofit and independent from the city.