Newly established Solana Beach Council use policy for Fletcher Cove Community Center is a sensible compromise

The Solana Beach City Council established a use policy for private rental of the Fletcher Cove Community Center (FCCC) at its meeting of Aug. 28. As a result of Council action, the FCCC is now available for rental to Solana Beach residents for a variety of ceremonial events. The use policy represents a sensible compromise between the parties on both sides of this issue. It makes available the FCCC to residents while providing reasonable safeguards to the neighborhood against severe negative impacts. Unlike neighboring cities like Del Mar and Encinitas that have Community Centers located in commercial areas, the FCCC in Solana Beach is located in a residential area immediately adjacent to and opposite of existing homes. With the exception of two handicapped spaces, the FCCC has no onsite parking.

The newly established Council use policy limits attendees to private events to 50 persons and provides safeguards against excessive noise. The policy attempts to control alcohol consumption by establishing a two drink maximum policy for beer and wine only. An onsite monitor must be present at all times to enforce the policy provisions, as well as to encourage attendees to park other than on the street in front of residences. The policy allows for one private event per weekend on every other weekend.

But to a small group of City residents, this use policy is not enough. This group wants more, much more. This group wants two parties every weekend for 100 attendees with unlimited alcohol and no onsite monitor. The Del Mar Powerhouse center requires at least one full-time, onsite monitor for every event. The greater number of people — 100 people attending FCCC events twice every weekend — creates a parking problem resulting in limiting the public’s access to the beach and park A parking study detailing the severity of the parking problem and prepared by a professional traffic engineer is on file with the City. This group claims that existing City ordinances and state laws for alcohol control will limit negative impacts to the local neighborhood. Well, if this is true, then why didn’t these ordinances effectively control the negative impacts experienced by the neighborhood back in the 1990s, the last time the City rented the FCCC to private parties. Loud band music into the night and public drunkenness were clearly in evidence. Not a parking space in front of residences was available until noisy party goers exited the neighborhood at 10 p.m.

Despite warnings of a return of these nightmares of the ‘90s, this small group is determined to have their way, begin their two parties every weekend program and overturn the City Council use policy. Using paid signature gatherers, they have asked that the collected signatures be verified in order to force the City to put this issue on the ballot for a City-wide vote. This election will cost Solana Beach taxpayers $250,000, money that could otherwise be available for fixing potholes, improving traffic flow or improving and enhancing City parks. If this ballot measure were to pass, this expanded, intensive use policy would be out of the control of the City Council and could only be altered by conducting another City -wide election at the cost of an additional $250,000.

Clearly the newly established Council use policy is the better choice. It makes the FCCC available to City residents for private events while providing safeguards to protect the character and integrity of the local neighborhood. Spending $250,000 of City money for more and larger private parties with unlimited alcohol is not a wise choice.

Richard Jacobs