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Dr Rich
Every month, Rich Simons answers readers’ most perplexing questions.
Rich Simons | Upper East 11th Street

Photo illustration Art Olson.
Click on photo to enlarge.

I heard something recently about “undergrounding” something-or-other in Del Mar. Can you tell me what this is all about? – p.j.

I heard the same thing and it got me all excited because I thought the grand scheme of tunneling under Camino Del Mar to get the railroad off the cliffs was about to be revived. Some of us had hoped that they would just dig it a little wider so as to accommodate Olde Highway 101, so then Camino Del Mar would become a lush garden with a footpath winding through it.

So of course I was devastated when I learned that what they were talking about was undergrounding utilities in our neighbrhoods. You know – cables carrying electricity, telephone lines – that sort of thing. I guess some people think they are ugly. Not me. Over the years the cables that run along our street have been the source of great entertainment. We had fun draping things over them: toilet paper, old garden hoses, whatever. But mostly old shoes.

The neat thing about shoes was that there was a rumor for a while that they signaled houses where drugs were for sale. So a lot of interesting characters showed up at the door. They were disappointed, of course, but I told them a few jokes and they would go away happy. Hey - anything to get an audience.

There’s been some grumbling around town about our visitors (you know – the Fair, the Races, the beach crowd) not chipping in to help with what it costs for us to host them. A one percent sales tax increase has been proposed to help defray these expenses. What do you think of that? – d.s.

I think that would be like shooting ourselves in the foot. It means the price of my Bullyburger would go up, as well as your Guiness down at Zel’s. And there’s a better way to do this. Look – we are a “tourist destination,” right? So think a minute: can you just go and park for free at the base of Magic Mountain? Can you just wheel up to the dolphin pond at SeaWorld and drop off your kids with lawn chairs and a bunch of snacks? NO, you can’t – because they make you park a long way away and pay to get in! Get it? We should be charging a fee at all the entrances to our precious “destination.” A small Del Mar surcharge at the fairgrounds ticket booth would hardly be noticed. I have previously suggested that at the entrances to our beach the lifeguards should put up kiosks where they could sell different levels of lifesaving service to the bathers, from economy to luxury.

And if the highway is finally run underground we are REALLY in business! We can put ticket booths at 9th street and 15th street. Hell, we’ll be a huge ATTRACTION. Families will bring their children to see the only downtown area in California that has not changed in any substantial way since the mid-seventies, when we wrote the General Plan.

June 11, 2016. Councilmember Dwight Worden swings into action at former City Hall on CDM. Photo Bill Morris.
Click on photo to enlarge.

(Sidebar: that damn new City Hall is going to screw this up. Maybe we should put the southern booth at 11th Street.) Anyway - along Camino Del Mar we’ll have kiosks that sell the usual stuff. You know – cotton candy, churros, little tchotchkes, mementoes of Olde Del Mar – made in China of course. Maybe little molded plastic replicas of our most iconic scenes – the Powerhouse? Canterbury Corner? Bullys? . . . . whaddaya think?






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