November 2009 home page


Mission Forgotten
Dawn Rawls | Chair San Dieguito Lagoon Committee

This is Fig 3.5 from the Fairgrounds draft EIR showing a proposed aerial view of the Fairgrounds after implementation of the Master Plan. Note the convention center complex of hotel and exhibit halls along the river’s edge. That continuous stucco wall of buildings is 50 feet high with taller towers, wide enough for 3 full-size, rooftop sports fields and is as long as the race track.


Fairgrounds expansion looms gaudy! Simulation Art Olson

Here is the Mission Statement for the Del Mar Fairgrounds as posted by the 22nd District Agricultural Association (DAA) on their website www.sdfair.com
“To manage and promote a world-class, multi-use, public assembly facility with an emphasis on agriculture, education, entertainment and recreation in a fiscally sound and environmentally conscientious manner for the benefit of all.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? However, the newly released draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Fairgrounds Master Plan tells us that the DAA staff and Board of Directors have forgotten their own mission. Of the 18 projects listed, 12 are directly related to converting the Fairgrounds to a Convention Center.

What, you exclaim! Yes, the Master Plan that lays out the building projects for the upcoming 15-20 years at the Fairgrounds features a “330-room condominium hotel and accompanying conference facilities” complete with 58 RV hookups and new exhibit buildings sprouting 3 full-sized rooftop sports fields. A health club/sports training facility adjacent to the miniature golf course completes the “keep them on the Fairgrounds” convention center complex. The remaining projects in this group of 12 are designed to “move ‘em in, move ‘em out”. To keep those cars coming/keep those cars going, the Fairgrounds staff and Board of Directors intend to realign the Solana Gate entrance and add a turn lane from Via de la Valle, pave the dirt lot near the miniature golf course and add a multistory parking garage there. To attract more cars and get people into the events, a 5-story high electronic reader board will add a flashing 192 sq ft advertisement space adjacent to I-5 while a 3-story entrance gate/ administration building will engulf visitors as they walk in from the parking lots.

To no one’s surprise, the Fairgrounds staff and Board of Directors will avoid letting these massive exhibit halls and lavish hotel accommodations languish in a state of emptiness. Prepare for traffic, air pollution, noise and bright lights every weekday and weekend they can possibly schedule “interim events.” Ah, yes, the Fairgrounds staff will cry: we plan a seasonal train stop and will mitigate effects of traffic.

Here is the point at which they recall that “fiscal responsibility” from their mission statement! The DEIR asserts that we the taxpayers will pay a “fair share” for a seasonal train stop platform and FIVE new stoplights in Del Mar! To soften the blow of even more traffic through Del Mar, the DEIR cites “mitigation” by adding stop lights at 11th St, 13th St, San Dieguito Dr, the hotel entrance, and the main Fairgrounds entrance. So Del Mar citizens will not only get ever more traffic, but will also suffer the visual blight of inconvenient stoplights every other block in the Village and at every intersection along Jimmy Durante Blvd. The real bonus, for the Fairgrounds, is that we, the taxpayers, will get the privilege of paying for the vast majority of these “mitigations” costs.

And just where will this convention center and new entrance gate/administrative building be located? The entire length of the north shore of the San Dieguito River between Jimmy Durante Blvd and the railroad trestle will become a wall of stucco and tile. All the current exhibit halls, the clock tower, administration buildings and the fire station will be demolished to open up the space needed for the convention center. Fire station? Indeed! The Fairgrounds staff and Board of Directors plan to “move” the fire station to land that they currently don’t own! While the DAA asserts it will buy this land, no offers are forthcoming to build us a new fire station.

The Fairgrounds Master Plan is asking us, the taxpayers of Del Mar, to live next to a convention center, endure year-long traffic increases, and, with no apology, to pay, through state taxes, for a seasonal train stop and to pay from the stretched-thin tax coffers of Del Mar for a new fire station and five new traffic lights.

A convention center, increased traffic and citizen taxation - all this in the name of “agriculture, education, entertainment and recreation”, that laudable mission the staff and Board of Directors of the Fairgrounds seem to have misplaced, forgotten and excluded from their Master Plan.

Voice your opinion:
In person: the DAA Board of Directors meet at 1:30pm on the 2nd Tuesday of each month in the Fairgrounds administrative building. Fill in a speaker’s slip for 5 min of air time.
By email: MasterPlanEIR@sdfair.com

See also: Pave Paradise
Pam Slater-Price | Chair of the San Dieguito River Park, JPA   Click here.



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