By Kristina Houck
Although the issue is already headed to the ballot, the Solana Beach City Council on Nov. 20 discussed a report on the Fletcher Cove Community Center initiative council members requested weeks earlier.
During the Oct. 9 meeting, the council decided to explore its options and ordered a report rather than adopt a citizen’s initiative for a use policy or spend about $200,000 on a special election. The council received the report at its Nov. 6 special meeting, when council members also unanimously voted to call a special election for Feb. 11, 2014, allowing voters to have their say on a use policy for the facility.
The report, which was prepared by attorneys Helen Holmes Peak and Inga Lintvedt, analyzed potential impacts the proposed initiative could have on the city.
“Based on the documents and analysis included in this report, there are not expected to be adverse impacts to the city’s general and specific plans, zoning, land use, housing, funding for infrastructure, schools, parks, traffic, parking, open space, business retention and employment, vacant parcels, agriculture, business districts, or areas designated for revitalization,” the report states.
Solana Beach resident Mary Jane Boyd — who backed the initiative along with former Solana Beach Mayor Thomas Golich and resident James Nelson — questioned why the council chose to discuss the report weeks after its vote.
“Why now are you bringing this report up tonight? It seems disingenuous to me since you already made the decision to have a special election,” she said. “I’m just trying to figure out what this all means.”
Deputy Mayor Thomas Campbell, who was on the East Coast during the special meeting and participated by phone, said he didn’t have an opportunity to read the report in detail prior to the meeting because it was only made available to the council and the public after 5 p.m. on Nov. 4. Campbell asked City Manager David Ott to add the report to the agenda so he could share his concerns.
Campbell said he believed the report didn’t consider a number of issues, and his colleagues agreed. These include the lack of information and analysis on the city’s fiscal, land use, parking and other issues. The report also didn’t mention that, if adopted, the initiative could only be modified by a public vote.
“If the council were to choose to adopt or if the voters choose to approve, once that is done, there’s no remedy that can be taken by the City Council or the city, without further elections to change it,” Mayor Mike Nichols said.
In a 5-0 vote, the council directed City Attorney Johanna Canlas to draft a letter to the authors of the report, outlining their concerns.
“I feel like this is an opportunity to provide some education to everyone, in terms of what could be considered, in my opinion, inaccurate or undisclosed information,” Nichols said.
“That’s our job — to give our opinions. This is no different than any of those other times.”