Del Mar has long been known as a strong citizen participation city. Much of what we have achieved has been initiated by grass roots citizen groups. Many ideas such as condos in Crest Canyon and a “restaurant row” instead of Powerhouse Park, have been defeated by the watchful eyes of active citizen groups. Much of what we value today about Del Mar’s character, especially our vast open green spaces and open beach front, has citizen fingerprints all over it.
This strong citizen influence has yielded a distinctive community that we enjoy and take pride in, yielding incredibly high property values that we also benefit from. Our rich history of citizen vigilance is a great base but not enough to shape our future. We need to keep mining our citizenry for good ideas now lest we back into a future that is unintended.
Of course anyone can decide to speak up, especially on the city’s new website and surveys, but we think a logical place to light a fire is in the many committees ,boards, and non-profit organizations that have already attracted high energy citizens. Collectively these groups know the community well, are familiar with some of our challenges, and have ideas about where we ought to be going and how to get there.
The agendas of these committees and non-profits are already full and they are diligently addressing issues that come to them. This is important work but often they operate in a reactive mode in the “now.” We would like to urge each of these groups to set aside quality time on a regular basis to move beyond the “now” to the “future,” to proactively think about ways we can move the community in fruitful directions for the medium and long term future, to organize these visions and ideas and bubble them up to the Council to put on the public agenda.
Every year the Council meets to set priorities with the idea that the top of the list should be reflected in the budget wrestling period that follows. Usually Council Members try to divine these priorities on their own. This year the Council has formally requested input from our many non-profit, committee and board members to help them reflect community ideas in City priorities.
We urge all city groups to stand down from business as usual and spend some quality time crafting their strategies for shaping our future. The Council then should stand down from its business as usual and seriously consider what the community tells them. Using history as our guide let’s put citizens in charge of our future.