Why has the neighborhood of Del Mar become so overwhelmed by governmental problems?
In the ’50s, Del Mar was a neighborhood in the county, like Rancho Santa Fe. Then there was an effort to annex to the City of San Diego as a neighborhood,
like La Jolla.
But most residents voted to incorporate as a city in 1959, under the “Lakewood Plan,” in order to keep our neighborhood small and control our own destiny. The “Lakewood Plan” was named after the City of Lakewood, Calif., which contracted out all public functions to other jurisdictions and companies. The Del Mar water and sewer utilities were privately owned by Sam Fraser, one San Diego County planner was assigned to Del Mar, fire services were supplied by the California Forestry Department, police were contracted with the county sheriff, and the government offices and council chambers were all located in the building now occupied by Rusty (surf shop) at 15th and Stratford. Del Mar government was really simple! Today, there are more costs and regulations of cities and counties than for individual neighborhoods.
Today, Del Mar is still the same small neighborhood, but we don’t control our own destiny! Somebody higher up tells us how many houses, including affordability, we have to have — because we are a city, not just a neighborhood. For some reason, our same small neighborhood requires a whole lot more employees, negotiating with council neighbors, not individually paying, wages and pensions that are overwhelming our resources — because we are a city, not just a neighborhood. Our small neighborhood has to pay for parks, beach maintenance and lifeguards for the whole world to use — because we are a city, not just a neighborhood. No wonder the city is always talking about not financially making it as a city.
Other small neighborhoods — like Rancho Santa Fe, La Jolla and Fallbrook — seem to be controlling their own destiny without having all the problems and costs required of being a city — by just being a neighborhood in a larger jurisdiction.
Maybe we should give up trying to be a city. It’s costing us too much to not really control our own neighborhood destiny.
Maybe it’s time to discuss the issue.
Ralph Peck, Del Mar