Stuck in the middle
I have been reading with earnest the numerous Letters to the Editor published in your newspaper the past month which either strongly support or strongly oppose Proposition B. Almost all have been sharply worded and accuse the other side of deception, misleading information and lies. My guess is that despite all the tough talk and with about a week to go until the Special Election, Solana Beach citizens either passionately for or passionately against Proposition B make up roughly 10 percent of our population. The other 90 percent of us remain confused, not knowing who to believe, how this issue became so contentious, and why we are spending so much time and attention on this issue. We are stuck in the middle.
We have a city government that is, for the most part, very well run. We have a prized city manager in David Ott who oversees a well-oiled machine that is the envy of the region. Our finances are in order and we are more efficient than most communities our size in providing public services. Led by City Council, the past few years have seen a lowered train track, two new pedestrian bridges, the Coastal Rail Trail, a Vons expansion, Fletcher Cove Park, Fletcher Cove Community Center, Overlook Park, the new I-5 interchange, infrastructure investments along South Cedros, sewer upgrades, road repaving and the Highway 101 makeover. Yet after three years, hundreds of meetings and thousands of dollars spent, City Council has been ineffective in forging any reasonable private use policy for the Fletcher Cove Community Center.
Mistakes have been made by both sides along the way. Proposition B only started after then Mayor Mike Nichols publicly stated in a June 2013 council meeting that after two years of negotiations the issue had reached an impasse and would no longer be discussed. Later, when the “compromise policy” was introduced in response to the number of signatures quickly collected in protest to no policy at all, it was widely regarded as something between a joke and an insult. The signature drive only increased in momentum. Had the Proposition B camp only turned in 1,000 rather than 2,100 signatures, the Special Election would have been held in June at a cost of $12,000 rather than in February at a cost of $191,000.
I believe the vast majority of Solana Beach residents think the correct private use policy sits somewhere between the two choices we are presented with today. The bolded policy below is a representative example of changes that could be made to the existing policy after the Special Election. If Proposition B wins, City Council could control private party use through the existing permitting process and call for another Special Election in June at a cost of approximately $12,000. If Proposition B loses, City Council could move as soon as the next City Council meeting toward a policy that really is fair and balanced rather than what exists today. Either way, it needs fixing.
•Maximum occupancy is 50 guests
•Beer and wine are allowed, no hard alcohol.
•A private security guard (approved by the city) is required to monitor all rental guidelines, including alcohol and noise requirements.
•No amplified music, drums, horns and DJs are allowed. Small acoustic live music or recorded music is allowed as long as the noise levels stay under the allowable limits per the city’s Noise Ordinance.
•Only residents or “resident-sponsored” applicants can rent the facility for private events.
•Only one private event serving alcohol is allowed per weekend.
•Private events can only take place on the weekends during the following times:
5-10 p.m. on Fridays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Sundays. (Memorial Day — Labor Day only)