The Del Mar Fairgrounds EIR and you

By Dennis E. Ridz

Chairman, Torrey Pines

Community Planning Board

As you may know, the agency that runs the Del Mar Fairgrounds has big plans for expansion in the coming years. As required by the California Environmental Quality Act, the 22nd Agricultural District must submit a draft environmental impact report and allow a 90-day period for public comment. In this case, the public review period ends Jan. 8, 2010.

In order to receive consideration and a response you need to speak about the inadequacies, errors and omissions, in the report. This approach requires you read and analyze areas of interest in this DEIR. The following are examples:

What about current legislation that wasn’t considered or adequately discussed? In the case of the fairgrounds, a new California Senate Bill (SB 517) states that the primary funding source for the Fair and Exposition Fund will shift from horse racing license fees to the state General Fund, effective July 1, 2009. This massive expansion will require bonds, which create debt payments.

What if the income from operations at the fairgrounds is inadequate? The comment you want to submit is: “There appears to be no adequate explanation of how the fairground and racetrack expansion will be paid for. Furthermore it appears that the citizens of California will be the primary source of funding based upon Senate Bill 517, which is not addressed in this DEIR.”

One can also try “thinking outside the box.” This always gives me a headache but here goes.

One of the projects in the DEIR is for playing fields to be atop some new buildings. Playing fields will be lit from dusk to 11 p.m. seven days a week.

The fairgrounds is located on a flood plain next to the San Dieguito River and is home to many species of birds including raptors (birds of prey). Some hunt at night when they can see better than their prey. If the lagoon is lit up like Times Square, raptors may move to better hunting grounds. Oh, did I mention the lagoon is home of several endangered species?

This man-made intrusion into a fragile ecological system that just underwent a nearly $90 million restoration can alter the natural cycle of predator and prey.

Taking the time now may save a special place for future generations.

Send your comments to: Dustin Fuller, 22nd District Agricultural Association, Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, Calif. 92014-2216.

The entire DEIR can be found online at www.sdfair.com.


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