February 2010 home page

  There You Go Again!
Mark Whitehead | Santa Fe Avenue

The 22nd Agricultural District’s massive development plans that include a hotel, conference center and multistory parking structure, their environmental threats, and a lack of consultation with Del Mar spurred the city to formally contest the district’s draft environmental impact report (EIR). The city council voted unanimously on January 19 to respond the district by detailing the EIR’s many inadequacies and inaccuracies as identified by the city’s consultants and by its long-standing Fairgrounds Master Plan Advisory Committee.

The city’s 65-page response to the draft EIR is harshly critical of the district’s planning, dubbed “imperious” and “dismissive of Del Mar” by the council. The City’s response is backed up by a long appendix containing wetlands maps that conflict with district claims, historic and current photographs (see article by Dwight Worden page 1) of the district’s unauthorized grading and filling of wetlands, expert testimony regarding increased traffic and flooding risks that would attend the project, and inconsistencies of the district’s development plans and past practices with the Coastal Act, with longstanding and unfulfilled obligations required of the district by the California Coastal Commission, and with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

CEQA requires that the public be given detailed information about development to ensure its meaningful participation in the protection of the environment. The city maintains that the district’s planning process for the environmentally sensitive lagoon area abjectly failed to afford or solicit CEQA-mandated public input. Nevertheless, despite the many inadequacies of the EIR, and such egregious proposals as paving wetlands, the city reaffirmed its willingness to cooperate with the district in mutually beneficial and environmentally sound planning. The city’s response to the district concludes that the EIR is so flawed that it must be withdrawn, rewritten and re-circulated, and that responding to the city’s many comments are obligatory.


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