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RIVER PARK Weighting
Ann Gardner | Via Latina


From left: Dianne Jacob, District Two County Supervisor; Dave Zilo, Solana Beach City Council; Dave Roberts, District Three County Supervisor; and Don Mosier, Del Mar City Council.
Click on image to enlarge.

At its first meeting after San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer approved just one more year of funding for the San Dieguito River Park unless certain issues were resolved, the Park’s Joint Powers Agency (JPA) on May 16 considered the issues, agreed on some but left most on the table including Faulkner’s number one issue: non-weighted voting.

Del Mar and Solana Beach, along with the four other jurisdictions that border the 55 mile long park stretching from Del Mar east to Volcan Mountain: San Diego County and the cities of San Diego, Escondido and Poway are members of the JPA. Each agency contributes financially to the operation of the park and their representatives meet regularly to set policy, approve a budget and staffing, plan acquisitions and land uses in the coast to crest resource. When the JPA’s 25 year old agreement came up for renewal this year the City of San Diego revealed that they had “a number of issues” with the arrangement and even suggested that the City might leave the JPA and assume management of the land within its jurisdiction.

This came as a shock to Park supporters who are celebrating 25 years of accomplishments including lagoon restoration, habitat conservation, historic structure rebuilding, 65 miles of trails and last month the opening of an open air classroom east of I-5. At stake is not only San Diego’s $254,000 annual contribution but regional management of approximately 50% of the land.

Under the agreement each agency is to contribute an annual fee based on the size of its jurisdiction: San Diego City and County each contribute $254,000; Escondido and Poway contribute $107,000 and Del Mar and Solana Beach $49,000. The JPA uses non-weighted voting although the City and County of San Diego have two representatives on the Board compared to one each for the remaining four smaller jurisdictions. San Diego is requesting a weighted vote to mirror the contributions. This would result in San Diego and the County’s vote weighing 31% compared to the current 21%; Escondido and Poway votes would be worth 13% and Del Mar and Solana Beach votes 6%. Leaving aside implementation questions, JPA members seemed more concerned about the loss of what, they say, has been consensual decision making for one based on financial contributions. “Support for the Park goes beyond money contributions” one member noted citing the large number of volunteers and donors from the North County area. Supervisor Dianne Jacobs compared the River Park collaboration to the recent regional response to wildfires that broke out in North County. “People did not (stop and) ask what are we getting for our money?” “A weighted vote diminishes the influence of smaller members; it would create a power shift,” another member commented.

The Board did agree to: correct potential misrepresentation of individual Board member votes, mediate billing for specific San Diego services and create a subcommittee with the City to work on clarifying the remaining issues. “We are struggling to figure out the issues, “JPA Chair Roberts said. In the meantime to avoid the automatic termination of the JPA on June 12th if all six agencies do not sign the renewal agreement, the remaining five agencies have signed an Extension Agreement for another fifty years although only two signatures are required.


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