Ten Questions: Former Del Mar city attorney keen on bluegrass


Dwight Worden graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1974 and was the founding partner of Worden and Williams Law Firm 1975. He was the city attorney for Del Mar from 1977 to 1983.

Worden also taught land use and environmental law at local law schools, and lectured extensively on land use, environmental and government law topics for a variety of organizations including the Trial Lawyers Association, California Continuing Education of the Bar and the League of California Cities.

He is active in a number of community and civic organizations, including the Sierra Club, Solana Beach Town Council, Los Penasquitos Lagoon Foundation, San Diego Coast Regional Commission and San Dieguito Citizens Planning Group. He served as a member of the California Coastal Commission, the Attorney’s General Environmental Task Force, the Solana Beach Elementary School Board and the Surfrider Foundation Advisory Board.

What brought you to Del Mar?

Surf and cool ambiance brought me to Del Mar. I moved to Solana Beach in 1970 and then to Del Mar in 1981 and have been in the same house ever since. I had seen the area in the 1950s and 1960s visiting my grandmother, so when I graduated from college in Colorado in 1969 and had no clue what I would do, going to the Del Mar area to hang out and surf seemed, at the time, like a good idea. Thirty-nine years later has proved it was a good idea as I plan to spend the rest of my life right where I am.

What makes Del Mar special to you?

Del Mar’s relationship to the ocean, its great neighborhoods, its true local government and its informed citizen involvement make it special. It is one of the few places in San Diego County that has not significantly changed over the almost 40 years I have been in the area, but instead has managed to hang on to what makes it a great place. Battles have raged, for sure, but overall the people of the town have fought, with success, to make sure it stays a great place.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Del Mar?

I would reduce traffic on Camino Del Mar, I would remove the railroad from the bluffs, I would grace our town with a new City Hall and civic center with performance and theater space and community meeting rooms, and I would revitalize downtown so we locals can shop locally and meet our needs.

And, I would have the city own the King parking lot and the old railroad station so they could be put to community uses. I realize none of these is likely to happen, but hey, that in itself is pretty good testimony to how well off the town is that darn near all the good things that are achievable have been, or are being, achieved -powerhouse park, the new library, etc.

Who or what inspires you?

Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King inspire me at the global level. John Muir inspires me on environmental issues, and all the citizen volunteers in Del Mar who put so much time in to Del Mar committees, the garden club, the Del Mar Foundation, the lagoon committee, etc., inspire me.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Nelson Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as two of the greatest forces for positive change; Stuart Duncan, the greatest bluegrass fiddle player; Betty Wheeler, my significant other; Hideo Chino, my friend; Jared Diamond, author; Tom Curren, surfer; and Osama Bin Laden so we could see what makes him tick.

What are you currently reading?

Jared Diamond’s “Collapse” about the collapse of civilizations and sequel to “Guns, Germs and Steel”. “Fox in the Hen House” by Si Kahn and Elizabeth Minnich about why privatization (contracting out government services) is a bad thing; the Surfers Journal, every page every issue; and on airplanes some trash mysteries.

What is your most prized possession?

My 1964 martin D-28 guitar that I bought brand new when I was 17 and in high school. I have had that guitar longer than I have known any of my friends!

What do you do for fun?

Play lots of bluegrass and American acoustic music (I currently play in several bands: The Galapagos Mountain Boys (fiddle, mandolin and bass); Gone Tomorrow (bass); Urban Scramble (fiddle, mandolin, guitar and bass) and I am the president of the San Diego Bluegrass Society, Inc., a nonprofit promoting bluegrass music in San Diego County.

I am a board member of the International Bluegrass Music Association headquartered in Nashville. Traditional acoustic American music is a passion and an avocation. I also enjoy surfing and skiing.

Describe your greatest accomplishment.

Learning to enjoy life, get along with the ones I love, and to be able to enjoy contributing where I can.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Take your time. Enjoy something every day. See the good in people and ignore the bad. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions and for your community--if you don’t, who will?