The backers of the so-called “Party Policy Initiative” for the Fletcher Cove Community Center have placed the Solana Beach City Council in a very difficult position, essentially holding a gun to their head to adopt their plan as is, or go to an expensive special election. These same backers intentionally timed the submission of their signatures to require a special election – despite the $200,000-$250,000 price tag on such a scenario. Had they held onto their signatures and submitted them just a few weeks later, their Initiative could have been part of the general election, at a fraction of the cost. Now, these same Party Policy backers are trying to place the blame and the cost of the special election at the City Council’s feet.
The City Council was very thoughtful in coming up with the current use policy for the Fletcher Cove Community Center. The current policy weighs desire to use the facility for private events, with concerns regarding the impact to beach access, parking, the close proximately to the local family park, and noise, safety and traffic concerns. The current council use policy is for a trial period and can be amended as needed by the City Council. But because the Party Policy backers want their way or the highway, they aren’t willing to let the current use policy play out. The backers have used deep pockets and deceptive tactics to get their way. Paid signature gatherers misrepresented the facts when collecting signatures and high-paid campaign attorneys from San Francisco are behind the glossy postcards and emails blaming the City Council for the cost of the special election.
After misleading the public into signing a petition for an election and intentionally timing the submission of the signatures to require an expensive special election, they are trying to blackmail the City Council into adopting the initiative outright in order to avoid the cost of the special election that they, the backers of the initiative themselves, orchestrated! And now the sponsors are backpedaling, claiming they “didn’t know” about the special election. Really? This small group consists of two former mayors and some very politically savvy individuals. Really? They didn’t know? Councilmember Thomas Campbell was right at last week’s meeting when he said, “They clearly did this on purpose, and they knew what they were doing.”
So what’s the problem with adopting the initiative outright? For one thing, the Party Policy Initiative, as it is currently drafted, is a bad law. And if the City Council adopts the petition outright, neither the current City Council, nor any future City Council, could modify a single element of the policy – even for public safety concerns. Secondly, the backers of this initiative are setting a dangerous precedent for the city – basically saying one can deceive Solana Beach voters and blackmail the City Council, as long as one has the money (and lack of moral compass) to do so.
Solana Beach voters are too smart for these deceptive tactics. Don’t let the deep-pocketed minority trying to commandeer our community center set the tone for future politics in our charming beach town.