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Note: this notice has been in our print issue for ten years.

Pipe Up!

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Tunnel Vision and Rail Routing
Bob Fried, Stratford Court

I’d like to thank Councilmember Ellie Haviland for her excellent article in the March 2019 of the Sandpiper entitled “Tunnel Vision” which gave residents a better understanding of what projects are being planned by the North County Transit District (NCTD) and by the San Diego Association of Government, to ensure our bluffs remain stable until the tracks can me be moved off the bluffs, with construction expected to begin this summer.  The components of the various projects will definitely have a positive impact for both residents and visitors to Del Mar.  

Also, I wanted to thank Greg Beckham for his 2 great articles:  the first entitled “1997 Proposals” with his visionary ideas for rerouting the train off of the Bluff and for building a tunnel beginning near the Fairgrounds and exiting near Carmel Valley Road; and the second article,"Rail Routing," reminding us of his artistic vision from twenty years ago and challenging us today to “…not miss our opportunity to do great things to enhance our community’s quality of life” and find inspiration from his original design.  Here's hoping that with great leadership from our City, we will be able to work collaboratively and effectively with the various constituencies to move the tracks off of the bluff long before the date of 2050 that has been mentioned!

Nuke Near Miss
Alice McNally,  Stratford Court
A huge thank you to the Sandpiper and Don Moiser for the "Nuke Near Miss” story on the front page of the Sandpiper's April issue.

It is so import to draw the attention of the public.  This hazardous. public health emergency effects 8.4 million of us.  Before we are forced to cut and run what can each of us, as citizens, do to assure the waste is safely moved and stored off sight, away from the water?
Del Mar Resort
Nina Detrow, 23rd Street, Del Mar
Please accept this letter in support of the concept of a resort on the North Bluff. I have been watching the outreach process for the proposed Del Mar Resort! I understand Zephyr and Robert Green have stated they will be revising their proposed plan after they conduct their outreach to the community. This is significant movement and I look forward to the revised plan.  It will be very exciting to open up the Bluffs to the public!
Del Mar Resort
Lesa Heebner responds to Jeff Cameron
Lesa Heeber, Solana Beach City Council and Jeff Cameron, South Sierra Ave, Solana Beach

Dear Jeffrey,

Thank you for your email. As a Council member, I know full well that I cannot please everyone. At the same time, I strongly believe in representing the majority, not just my personal opinions.

In addition to my usual activities, I’ve been campaigning for two Council candidates, so have been in many living rooms and knocked on plenty of doors, speaking with hundreds of residents of all ages, in all neighborhoods. The overwhelming majority are opposed to this project. We have received an extraordinary number of communications opposing the project and illustrating with photographs their loss of views. I’ve also met with people in their homes to see their view loss, and I get out and about a bit and hear an earful on all sorts of topics, including this project. The opposition is overwhelming. Not even close. And BTW all Council candidates are opposed to this project.

Regrettably, Zephyr’s representatives have not offered or proposed any dialogue or communication with our City concerning this project and the significant negative impacts to Solana Beach.  Neither Brad or any other Zephyr representative has requested or initiated discussions or made any proposal to the Solana Beach City Manager or City Council to address the obvious negative impacts from the project on our city.  All we have to base our comments and actions on to date is the project we see today as depicted by the story poles, and the literature provided by Zephyr Together, these facts show us real and devastating negative impacts to our residents.

Continuation:  Heebner's full comments to Cameron and his response in pdf format.

Del Mar Resort
Tim Schnell, Via de la Valle, Del Mar

Hello, my name is Tim Schnell. I’m a resident of Del Mar and I’m likely the most impacted resident from Del Mar or Solana Beach from the proposed resort. One may ask, how am I the most impacted resident? I recently built a house at 107 via de La Valle less than 50 yard from the corner of Camino Del Mar. We made a large investment (multi million dollars) in our residence  with the expectation that we would maintain our view and maintain current traffic conditions directly in front of our house. Let there be no mistake my view and lifestyle will be altered because of the development of this proposed resort. 

However, I’m a strong proponent of the resort. I believe the benefits to our community far outweigh the fear of change or the potential negative impacts. The main benefits  to our community are; access to this incredible piece of land, public trails, public restaurants , improved public parking, public open space, significantly increased tax revenue that will allow this city to thrive and pay for community projects into the future. Let’s also be clear, the development of this resort will cause all of our property values to increase even residents who will have their views altered. 

I own a residential unit in Big Sky Montana where the Montage is building a resort and valuations instantly increased by 20% just on the day that Montage broke ground. Any statement  that this resort will Diminish property value is simply untrue.

My family and I look forward to the completed resort in our community 
and to enjoy the best in class facilities, the grounds, and the views.

Del Mar Resort
KC Vafiadis, Camino Del Mar

I remember the fear people had when my father, Jim Watkins wanted to build L'Auberge Del Mar. Even I had a hard time grasping my father's vision until I had time to truly look at the plans and a full scale model of the proposal. It's not easy to "see" what will be there when you look at 2 dimensional pictures.

What surprised me most as I knocked on doors or stood on the corner with the architectural model, was how people really didn't know what was planned, they just didn't want some high-rise hotel there. Once they took the time to see the vision as the heart of the community - the gathering place for friends and neighbors, they were willing to give it a chance. Once it was built, they loved it and still do!

So often a grand hotel becomes the focal point of a community. Think of Coronado-Hotel Del. 

Who doesn't enjoy high tea at the Del Mar Grande, live music in the lobby at the US Grant or watching a sunset wedding on the deck at L'Auberge Del Mar.

A quality resort like the one proposed will be a treasure for residents and visitors for years to come.

Del Mar Resort
Dylan Ramsey, Canyon Drive, Solana Beach

Dear City Council,

My name is Dylan Ramsey and I live at 427 Canyon Drive, Solana Beach. I am reaching out to you today to ask for your support for Del Mar Resort. This project is much-needed, common sense development by two thoughtful, well respected local developers. Solana Beach lacks places where the public can gather and enjoy white water views. In my opinion, the resort option will give the community another place to gather and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

This project has taken into consideration everything and is by far the best public use of this land. It will offer our community bluff access, increased parking, improved road infrastructure, amenities at dog beach, bluff preservation, sand replenishment, increased business and employment opportunities, new dining and entertainment options, and huge upside to our real estate values. All you have to do is look at how much real estate increased when they built the Montage in Laguna Beach and you will understand what we are talking about.

The traffic and sustainability issues are being addressed by the developer, the EIR, and the coastal commission. We need to trust these entities and the process if we ever want any chance of positive growth and common sense developments in our area.

Del Mar Resort
Gary Garber, Pacific Ave, Solana Beach



Dear City Council

My name is Gary Garber and I live at 231 Pacific Ave, Solana Beach. I am on the Solana Beach View Assessment Committee and am very involved in the community. I am a strong supporter of the Del Mar Resort project and believe that it would not only be an asset to Del Mar, but I great asset for Solana Beach.
As a member of VAC, I am well aware that there are about 20 homes whose view would be affected by the current plans, but I have spoken to the developers and I am also aware they are revising their plans. Now is the time for those homeowners to come to the table and work with the developers to ensure that they are a part of the process. We all know that something is going to be built on this land, the question is what. I personally believe that working with the resort will guarantee the best outcome for homeowners views and real estate values. The resort is going to be beautifully designed to blend into the bluffs. If individuals build custom homes on the bluffs they are going to maximize their FAR and every home will have a different style and color that could be an eyesore to the views
above. I believe it is the neighbors best interest to work with one project rather than two dozen different projects.

I have also heard the criticism that Del Mar will reap all the benefit while Solana Beach will receive all the traffic. While I understand that Del Mar will certainly benefit from the sales tax. I think it is short sighted to say that Solana Beach will not receive any benefits. Where do you think the guests of the hotel will walk, to eat, shop and spend money? Retail will boom in Solana Beach every day of the week as a result of the steady high end clientele, instead of just weekends as it is now. Real estate values will increase as a result of being adjacent to such a world class resort. All of this will directly increase SB tax revenue from both retail and property values.

In addition, the project will provide us hiking trails, dining, entertainment and all sorts of improved amenities to our roads and beaches. I urge you to consider supporting this project for the benefit of all of us.

Carbon Neutral Resort
Jeff Cameron, South Sierra Ave, Solana Beach

Del Mar City Council,

I am writing regarding the Del Mar Resort Project.  I am learning for the first time that this project will be the first proposed carbon neutral project, and I am intrigued by this innovative idea.  New construction projects create jobs and I fully support that  But responsible construction is even more important.  This project will actually build the housing we want in a responsible way. 

I appreciate the out of the box thinking to incorporate creative solutions to reduce greenhouse gases.  With our year-round sunny San Diego weather, it’s wonderful to see most of the proposed property will have solar rooftops.  Additionally, having charging stations throughout the resort is wonderful way to encourage more electric vehicles and bike share  on our roads and in our neighborhoods.  Providing electric bicycles and shuttles for guests to visit local shops and restaurants is a fantastic idea. I look forward to seeing this project approved and built.

Pipe Up from Al Tarkington, 11th Street
A recent newspaper article quoted North County Transit District blaming people walking on the Del Mar bluffs for bluff erosion.  Several years ago, they were blaming ground squirrels for eroding the ocean bluffs.  What a joke!

Perhaps we should place the blame on the heavily laden freight trains that shake the ground as they    rumble down the tracks several times each day.    The Coaster and Amtrak trains shake the ground thirty times every day!    And NCTD doesn’t mention the damage those trains do to the fragile (their words) bluff.

What a lame excuse for preventing beach goers from crossing the tracks.

People have been using Eleventh Street in Del Mar for public beach access ever since Col. Jacob Taylor constructed the path to the beach in the 1890s.  That’s right.  The 11th Street path to the beach was constructed in the mid 1890s!   When the Santa Fe Railway relocated the “Surf Line” rail tracks to the ocean bluff in 1909, they built a wooden bridge across the tracks to preserve beach access. The bridge over the tracks stood for 60 years until Santa Fe tore down (pre-Coastal Act) the bridge in 1969.

NCTD wants to reduce or eliminate any liability it has regarding people crossing the tracks.  There are solutions for that, but one of them is not fencing off the beach to the thousands that cross the tracks every year.

There are safe at-grade pedestrian crossings all over the world.  Even North County Transit District has at grade crossings on their Sprinter line to between Oceanside and Escondido.  Or, replace the old bridge between 10th and 11th Streets.

The public has had access to the beach at 11th Street for over 125 years!

As a San Diego public agency, NCTD has an obligation to preserve public beach access.  And to deny public beach access is clearly at odds with the intent of the Calif Coastal Act.

Note: Al Tarkington has lived on 11th Street next to the train tracks since 1970.

PRO: Del Mar Resort
Jim McMenamin, Brad Termini, and Robert Green, Del Mar Resort

Regarding Sandpiper’s article “Bluff Preserve – Origins and Promises” and “No to Del Mar Bluff & An Alternative to Development – Open Space / Historical Park”

As part of our commitment to the community, we wanted to provide an update, because we feel it is important to reaffirm our intentions, as we have a vested interest in ensuring our projects are complementary and beneficial to the communities of Del Mar and Solana Beach.

A previous Sandpiper commentary excludes reference to a 1994 document entitled “Covenant Regarding Grant of Easement Concerning City Property (Old Woodward Estate)”. This 1994 document amends and supersedes the 1971 and 1980 documents. The 4+ acre preserve dedication remains intact, except for a significant portion of the preserve property along the bluff. This portion of the property is fenced off from public access today. This blufftop area of the preserve would be re-opened with the development of the Del Mar Resort and its proposed trail amenity, which would also provide access to Dog Beach.

complete text in pdf format

CON: Del Mar Resort

No to Del Mar Bluff& An Alternative to Development- Open Space/Historical Park
Debbie Hecht, 27th Street

The 16-acre Del Mar Bluff is presently zoned for 16-22 homes in accordance to Community Development Plan standards and values.  The property is located at the southwest corner of Via de La Valle and Camino Del Mar. This is in accordance with the Community Development Plan.  Zephyr and The Robert Green Company have a specific plan that calls for up zoning to dense commercial for a 251-ROOM HOTEL with Convention Facilities, 76 HOMES, 4 RESTAURANTS and a SPA.    This will negatively affect the quality of life in the Beach Colony with a huge increase in traffic on 101 and Via de La Valle.   I believe this also dishonors the donation of James Scripps for the serene 4+-acre natural space park on the south side of the bluff.  It will impact air quality from construction dust and sediment runoff to the lagoon.  How does increasing traffic on our streets support our Climate Action Plan goals? It doesn’t!  

The developers only have an option on the property; they do not own it outright.  They are literally exploring their options.  This is NOT a done deal like so many of my neighbors assumed.

complete text in pdf format
Cyclists and Pedestrians
Dr. Helen Eckmann, West Ocean View Avenue

My husband Jim and I have lived in Del Mar for the past almost 30 years. We love it here. We have spent thousands of hours walking our beautiful city. We have nine grandchildren and we are often seen walking with some (occasionally all) of them.

I have found on Camino Del Mar that cars generally stop at stop signs, and the motorcycles are almost always polite and stop. However, there have been nine times that I have had to push one of our grandkids to safety; twice that many times I have almost been hit, one time I grabbed the Stop sign itself to steady myself.  Last week our dog was grazed by a bicyclist who failed to stop at a Del Mar stop sign. The bicyclists do not appear to respect our stop signs, signals and they respect our blinking cross walks even less.
One day I decided to sit and count how many bicyclists stopped for pedestrians at the 14th street blinking light (yes, with pedestrians in the crosswalk). Almost 80% of the bicyclists did not stop.

Additionally, the bicyclists often take up almost all of the free parking on 14th street, especially on the weekends, leaving basically no free parking close to downtown for the entire day while the bikers are up the coast. The bikers use the bathroom at Starbucks, but rarely spend any money in town.

I would like to recommend that we post a sign at the north and south entrances of our wonderful city letting bikers know that a complete stop at all crosswalks, stop signs and signals will be required.

RE: NRA Propaganda Hoax
Harriet Wadia, Luneta Drive


The NRA has perpetrated a great propaganda hoax with the statement that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”  The absurdity of this quote is easily understood if one substitutes any other device for guns. 

For example, “cameras don’t take pictures, people take pictures.”  Next time an NRA member wants a beautiful picture of a sunset, let him try to take one without a camera.  Would it work for him or for the millions of people who believe in this slogan? 

RE: Betty Wheeler's piece about Joel Holliday 
Del Mar Visionary

Ann Silber, Avenida Primavera

Click to enlarge.
Idaho Stop in Del Mar?
John O'Connell, Coast Boulevard

Should our traffic laws distinguish between cars and bikes?

My answer is an emphatic NO.

Bicycles are held to the same traffic laws as vehicles precisely because of the danger they can present to themselves and the general public just like the danger motor vehicles present.

It's unfortunate that some bicyclists are "averse" to stopping.  I agree that a vehicle operators simple tap on the accelerator vs the physical effort required for a bicyclists to move forward from a full stop are significant.
However, I have seen firsthand the poor behavior of a small percentage of single and group riders who have an aversion to stopping at our myriad of traffic calming measures. 
I've witnessed the 5 year old Rothbaler twins and their grandma Kathy experience a "near hit"  by riders choosing to ignore the stop signs and the fact that there are pedestrians crossing with the right of way.

I try to take the time to thank those that choose to obey the traffic laws.

Please, don't forget the reason many ride in the first place.  Exercise is defined as any activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness.

If it's too much for some riders to stop maybe something less strenuous should be the order of the day?

I hadn't noticed a need for a rolling stop law on the books.  Yet, the suggestion of an "Idaho stop" creates multiple problematic scenarios where bicycle riders may or may not stop, yield, and go at their discretion depending on traffic, visibility and pedestrian presence.  After reviewing rolling stop suggestions I noticed, "at any intersection with pedestrians present.  The bike rider yields".

My 24 years of experience along a major bike lane/route (Coast Blvd) is that too many members of our bicycle riding community fail to stop or yield as it is.  The rolling stop suggestion caters to a minority  of roadway users who have a small percentage of members that already fail to self police, and/or comply with current laws.  Stop means stop. 
My final plea; are you stopping by the post office after a walk on the beach and you parked in the 20 minute spot at Vista Del Mar?
Please, walk the 10 to 20 yards up the street to Stratford Ct and 15th and use the crosswalk.  The same goes for parking in the Seagrove lot and crossing Coast Blvd. to Jakes, Powerhouse Park, the beach, etc.   
Please cross where the city has spend thousands upon thousands of dollars, researching, planning and building a safe place for you to cross with the right of way at the appropriate time.

Jimmy Durante Roundabout
Jay Monsef, Seaview Drive

This was the best thing that, to my view, that ,has happened for traffic in our city.

As a family we have been living in Del Mar since 1994. We have seen many good developed projects over these years, this one is very noticeable as to how it has made the driving through this intersection so smoothly. You don't have to worry about cars, coming at intersection as who should go first or if the car that supposed to stop would really do that or not?! You just go through it only thinking about the yielding rules and that is it. No need to make stop only yield when needed.

Thank you the city officials for making it a reality.

Let's Face It!
Freda Reid | Cuchara Drive

Let’s face it! Del Mar is NOT primarily a resident-serving community any more.

In fact, we are a tourist town with fine, well-guarded beaches and well-kept parks for all. We have a small population of fortunate citizens with interesting homes and an elegant city hall complex underway.

We do however favor the commercial side of town by efforts to bolster business with many incentives: priority for utility undergrounding on Camino del Mar, help with frontage vegetation, lenient sign ordinances, banner permits, street closures for tent sales, plans for “street improvements,” city financial contributions to the DMVA. Not to forget continuous work on parking management.

Add to this, acquiescence to large crowd and auto-inducing fairground and park events. Extra race days in the fall, Kaaboo, gun shows, race track concerts, summer Powerhouse concerts, a promised new concert venue, and recently a cannabis festival and the Breeder’s Cup. And most important, the several-week San Diego County Fair. Some of these items can benefit the residents of the city, but we put up with a lot to host them.

In our downtown I can buy gold, dog delights, vacation clothes, body makeovers, multiple haircuts, multiple nail fixes, multiple real estate options and, of course, an eclectic selection of meals.

But I cannot buy a toothbrush, a battery, a pencil, a light bulb or a loaf of bread. I have no sympathy when merchants complain. They are obviously not resident-oriented.

Give me a good bakery and I will personally keep it in business.

Re: Mayor Sinnott's op ed piece about an independent police department
Ralph Reisner | Surfview Court

In his op ed piece  in the April 13 issue of the DMT, Mayor Terry Sinnott  makes the case for the establishment by DM of an independent police department (hereinafter DMPD).
Regretfully his advocacy article omits salient facts including the following: 

(1)The claim is made that the city would save circa $300,000 per year by establishing a DMPD instead of contracting with SD County’s Sheriff office. However the consultant’s cost estimates submitted to the City Council  on April 18, 2016 are by now out of date.  The cost projections of the  report are based on 2015 data.  These projections ignore  the  significant  increases of police  salaries, pension  contributions and  the inflation of building costs in the  two years since the report was drafted.   For instance,  pension contributions alone from 2016 to 2017 are projected  to increase by 20%. Thus, to compare  DMPD 2015 cost estimates with  current contract costs with the S.D. County Sheriff results in a highly distorted conclusion. (see, S.D. Police Officer Shortage  Gets Worse, S.D. Union Tribune, April 28, 2017).

Further, neither the consultants report or the  analysis prepared by the City Staff  addresses the added administrative costs associated  with the city manager and staff supervision of the DMPD that is implied  by both the consultants report and the City Staff Report of April 18, 2016. Such supervision and back office operations for payroll and such would be for a department  of 30 personnel or circa 40% additional personal from the city’s  current roster  of 55 FTEs.

(2) The Mayor’s  op ed article states: “The staffing increase (associated with a  DMPD) would be from 15.8 FTE to 19.0 FTE, an addition of 4 people.” The  factual basis for this assertion  is unclear since it is  puzzling  how the addition of 30 FTEs  - 29 officers and  one non officer administrative  assistant -  would lead to a net gain of  only 4 FTEs to the city payroll. 

(3) The estimated annual savings  claimed for  the establishment of a DMPD  totally ignores two  major cost factors.  The 2015 consultants report projects that a functional D.M.  police department would need to be housed in a physical  structure  of  circa 4300 s.f. —  roughly 50% of the  space devoted to administrative services in the city hall currently under construction. The $2.2—$3.2 million  2015 consultant’s estimate would appear to be in need of updating and revision notwithstanding the City Manager’s 2017 report that more of less adopts the consultants 2115 low end assessment of $2.4 million — without any backup data.  

Construction costs must be considered as well as  another  major cost factor — namely, the land acquisition costs that a structure of 4300 s.f. plus parking would require.  While estimates of land costs, at this point may be a futile exercise, it is certain  that land acquisition in Del Mar would be a major hurdle both financially and even in terms of availability.

Many Del Mar residents, such as ourselves, would welcome a more accurate presentation of facts and less advocacy based on questionable  facts.

RE: Pooch Protection Passes (April 1 Sandpiper)
Tabby McClaw, Via Felino
This new legislation is an outrageous example of prejudice for dogs over cats.  And another example of our local government adding administrative overhead without identifying a source of funding. The current license fee for an “altered” (talk about humiliation!) dog is only $14 per year. I suggest that fee should be increased to at least $140 per year so dogs pay their fair share.
Re: Plaza Lands in Local Hands (February 2016 Sandpiper)
Joe Sullivan, Ocean Front
I was pleased to see the interview with Marc Brutten, the new local owner of the Del Mar Plaza, in your February issue. We all look forward to the revitalization of this property after years of neglect by absentee landlords. One clarification is called for. Mr. Brutten says he has “been told that the last market suffered when the City brought in a farmers market that cut into the Plaza market’s sales.” In fact, I believe the Del Mar Farmers’ Market opened in 1986, while the Plaza market did not open until three years later in 1989. I believe the community and the region would support both our weekly Farmers’ Market and a correctly positioned artisanal market open every day in the Plaza.

Re: Positive aspects of Del Mar Election
T. Pat Stubbs. Forest Way


Well elections are over and the people in Del Mar have spoken.  I want to congratulate Ellen, Dave and Sherryl and wish them well in their role as City Council Members.  This was Del Mar’s first contested election in 10 years.  While there can be negative aspects of contested elections, I think some positive things came out of this election.

The election brought to light a number of issues facing Del Mar - creating a vibrant community, adequate law enforcement, short term rentals, beach and bluff access etc. The issues were thoroughly and publicly discussed.  Residents became aware of these issues and the candidates positons – a very good thing. 

Through Meet & Greets and candidate forums, residents and candidates had the opportunity to discuss issues and outline their positions. We saw candidates who had certain positions at the beginning of the campaign, change their position in response to hearing what residents actually wanted – another very good thing.
As I said in my last email, this was an important election for all of us. I want to thank everyone, whether you supported me or not, for being involved and caring about our community. Now we need to support our new City Council Members and work together to solve the issues facing our community. Please get involved -- attend city council and committee meetings. I look forward to seeing you there, and out and about in Del Mar!

Thank you and Goodbye for now.

Re: Rebuttal to Fact-Check #3: Garden Project
Nick Schaar, Schaar Homes and Building, Inc.

My firm was the Developer of the Garden Project in Del Mar. A couple days ago, I received an email from a Del Mar resident along with a copy of the Sandpiper “Fact Check” article. Please find below my rebuttal to your fact finding.

Because of the onerous Del Mar planning process, we spent an extra $2 million in redesign and consultant costs plus additional expenses for salaries and interest. This doesn’t include all our time and expense to change and re-change the plans and endure the ire from a handful of aggressive Del Mar residents who missed the point entirely.  We did this 73 times at mandatory public meetings where no effective support was ever given by staff to deflect these very hateful, misguided, paranoid few.

Yes 2008 came, but this ridiculous, unnecessary exercise resulted in far too great a cost.  We had an incredibly smart plan designed by Bokal and Sneed, which could have produced by far the best, most beautiful building in Del Mar, or any other coastal town.  Our business model did support this kind of excellence; however, our model could not endure the spastic and angry modus operandi of what seems to be Del Mar politics.

On a personal note.... it crushed me and hurt a bunch of other good folks a lot. It could have worked and it would have been great for us and Del Mar.  I'm still sad to think what it should have been. 
Re: Dog Walkers and Poop Bags
David Arnold, Ocean View Avenue

There is an increase in inconsiderate dog walkers leaving their poop bags on the street for someone else to pick up or to just remain untouched. People who do this are totally aware of their actions. Perhaps some editorial coverage would help Their conscience.

Re: Fact Checks
Henry Arbarbanel, Crest Road
Brilliant, bravo!
Re: Fact Check #3
Jim Benedict, Christy Lane | Candidate for City Council
I think with this third fact check, you are being too obvious as a publication that supports three candidates and wishes to slam, periodically the other three.  Actually very sad journalism and I am very disappointed in your editorial board.

Regarding the #3 fact check.  Yes the railroad law is a State Law.  You imply that it is not.

And the first place to go for guidance for a remedy is our state legislators.  No, they may not be the solution, but they can help.  Going to the NCTD, as your candidate suggested, is a complete waste of time.  Getting our legislatures involved may be very helpful and underused assets for our city.

I stand by my statement as accurate and a good strategy.
Re: Fact Checks
Lynn Gaylord, Ocean Front
These are terrific Fact Checks!  Keep them coming!
Re: Fact Checks
Lisa and Mike Uhrhammer, Stratford Court
nice fact check, sandpiper;  you are doing a great job!  thanks for working hard on behalf of residents.

for the record, very disappointed sandpiper not supporting measure R.
Measure Q is poorly constructed and false how presented to residents.

Re: Downtown Revitalization and the Plaza
Kipp Downing, owner of Pacifica Del Mar and Breeze Cafe

When I talk to Del Mar residents about out village center I regularly here< "Why cant we have a nice village like Solana Beach, Carmel or what is going on in Carlsbad?" What is holding us back? This is a legitimate question. As the owner of Pacifica Del Mar and the Breeze Cafe for 27 years I too have the same questions.

Residents are frustrated with our village center. He 2014 Citizen Satisfaction survey asked, "If City government could change could change one thing to make Del Mar a better place to live now and in the future, what change would you like to see?" The over whelming results were: #l-more beautification/redesign the City and #2 attract more businesses (i.e. retail/restaurants etc).

The Del Mar Community Plan from 40 years ago in 1976 to my understanding was for a vibrant city center. My businesses have been in town for over a decade and nothing really has changed since the
Del Mar Plaza and I'Auberge were built in 1989. What he have now vacant lots such as the........................................... ,  struggling businesses at risk of closing, "For Lease" Signs aplenty and a poor pedestrian sidewalk layout. Prop J was a great idea but had "something to hate" for nearly everyone and went down in a close vote. Nothing to my knowledge is in the works to replace it.

For 40 years, various City Councils have honored the wishes of a small group of residences that oppose virtually any development including the Plaza and I'Auberge in their time. Without change businesses will continue to come and go as status quo prevents any common sense pathway to an improved and vibrant downtown. This looks to continue as our neighborhoods north and east continue to thrive whether it be a city center or more user friendly shopping areas. After 40 years, Del Mar residents and business owners deserve better.

Re: Groundhog Day
Scott Renner and family, Via Alta

First, let it be stated that I respect the individuals on the Del Mar City Council regardless of whether or not they agree with my position regarding STRs. I assume each council member serves out of a genuine desire to make Del Mar a better place. As I stated at last night’s meeting, they are up there, and I am not, doing the hard work in navigating this city forward during a time of community change. That said, I left last night’s discussion early (10pm) utterly frustrated that numerous previous council meetings, public input, a draft STRs ordinance based on this public input, a public workshop that was from my point of view indicative of the overall community feeling that STRs are an issue in our city, the implementation of a moratorium of new STRs in Del Mar, and a recommendation offering two options authored by Mr. Worden and Mr. Sinnott offering viable (albeit potentially difficult) paths for our city to implement, have  all occurred in an absolute time vacuum. It was as if none of the hard ground work had been done, and the council was meeting for the first time on this issue. In short, respectfully, there was no backbone demonstrated by our city council.

Discourse became the excuse for non-action. The threat of legal action (which will take place regardless) all of sudden became a flash point as if it had not been previously considered. The lack of statistics became a rallying cry for inaction; something to hide behind preventing any movement on this issue. I distinctly remember statistics being shared at the public workshop in June. In short, my council let me, and I believe our city, down Monday night by not acting on an issue that needs action. I can only hope that our future council will act, and act in such a manner that pays tribute to the past involvement, action, and public debate centered on STRs in Del Mar.

Re: Bluff Access
Drew Cady, Stratford Court

The question is whether enforcing no trespassing on the bluff will reduce the deaths by train.  Since NCTD started commuter service in 1996, there has been about one death per month along the 30 mile corridor. Most of these deaths are suicide. Up until recently there have been only a few deaths along the Del Mar segment. In total there are no more deaths in Del Mar than any other segment, even though the bluff in Del Mar is well used. Enforcement is not going to stop people from committing suicide as the corridor is too long and train travel is regular but sporadic in comparison to freeway traffic.

The bluff is an integral part to the natural beauty and recreational areas of Del Mar that also include the two lagoons, Crest Canyon and the beach. The numbers of people that use the bluff on a daily basis is close to 300 people. The erosion of the bluff is due to the amount of irrigation that streams from the hill not people walking on top of the bluff. The bluffs can easily absorb about 10 inches of rain on an annual basis, because of irrigation the bluffs receive almost 100 inches of water per year.

In the spirit of not just saying “No”, enforcement should be based upon people abusing the privilege – crossing the tracks as a train approaches, walking on the tracks or walking too close as a train passes by. The corridor is mostly free of trains on the bluff as it usually only takes a train about 10 minutes to traverse all of Del Mar and the trains are infrequent. Ultimately, we need to get the train off the bluff so we can reclaim this area as a wonderful park and provide access to the beach via staircases and ramps.

The Del Mar City Council needs to work with NCTD to ensure that we have continued unfettered access to the bluff and beaches,

Re: Possible Sales Tax Increase
Jim Benedict, Christy Lane

We have over 5 million visitors to Del Mar each year -  3 million to the fairgrounds, and 2 million to our beaches.  And a frustration is that these visitors do not pay their fair share of the costs of public services that they use.

Example – over 85% of all beach rescues are visitors.  Our lifeguard budget is over $1 million annually, and visitors pay, effectively, zero.  Not fair.

Crime in Del Mar goes up in the summer with the impact of beach goers and fairground users.  The visitors pay zero for our increased costs.  Not fair.

With 5 million annual visitors our streets take a beating.  Our costs of beach and street maintenance increases.  The visitors pay nothing.  Not fair.

How can we attempt to recoup some of these visitor costs for our city ? Find a revenue source that has a visitor focus - increase our sales tax by 1%.   Over 85% of all sales tax collected in the city of Del Mar is paid by visitors.  Approximately 40% of all sales tax collected comes from the Fairgrounds.

A good solution to a nagging problem.

Re: Possible Sales Tax Increase
Tom McGreal, Stratford Court

We’ve all been told that the City of Del Mar is in good financial condition; the City can afford a $16 million Bond for the new City Hall and our ten-year Capital Improvement Plan is funded. So, why do we need to increase Sales Tax?

At any given point in time the City has a list of projects that are important to the community, but must be scheduled for completion over an extended period of time when the money will be available.

Right now Del Mar has three projects that are important to most people, but funding is not available in the current budget.

  • Undergrounding of the utility wires has been a priority for years. We’ve had some success with assessment districts but wires remain throughout most of the City.
  • The City is well into the Shores Park Master planning process and the cost estimates will be presented to the community in the coming months.   
  • The City has downtown streetscape plans, which will benefit the residents and the local merchants when completed.

The City has an opportunity to raise the sales tax rate by 1% as a revenue source for these priority projects and other general fund activities. At present Del Mar keeps 1% of the current 8% sales tax with the first 7% going to the State and County. The additional 1% increase would be fully retained by Del Mar. This increase would provide approximately $1.6 to $2.0 million per year in new revenues to help the city with important projects. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is estimated that the visitors to Del pay 85% of the Sales Tax receipts in Del Mar Mar.  This means the residents only pay 15%. In effect, the funding for these priority projects is being spread across the millions of visitors to Del Mar each year.

Let’s get these projects done sooner than later! It is a good strategy for the community and an important revenue source for the City. We urge you to support the sales tax increase.

Re: Del Mar Short Term Vacation Rentals are a Threat to Our Residential Zone
Scott Renner and his family, Via Alta

Next door to you is a 3 BR/2 BA home with pool. It is occupied by a family of four you know. You share small talk from time to time. You know their kids. They know your kids. You both hear each other yell, laugh, and entertain from time to time.  They sell, and the people purchasing inform you that they plan on using this home as a STR (short term rental). How do you respond?

That communities throughout Southern California are struggling with how to address STRS is evidence that a significant portion of these communities are negatively impacted by this issue. Anyone arguing that a STR in a residential zone is not a commercial venture is plainly incorrect. Next door to our home is a 3 BR/ 2 BA home with pool advertised on VRBO at $575.00 per night (5 night minimum). The absentee owners have purchased it as an investment that can generate $2875.00 every 5 days. This business creates significant revenue while producing issues that have absolutely changed my families’ experience within the neighborhood we have long resided.

I have no desire to sell our home. However, if I were to put it on the market, I would certainly have to disclose that the home next door is a STR. Arguably, the value of my home to a family seeking to purchase a home and reside full time in Del Mar is compromised. In contrast, those looking to purchase a second or third property as an investment might be encouraged to purchase my home to use as a STR. One fewer neighbor to object to a STR, and one fewer single family home occupied by a family invested in the community. The community begins to change from the inside out. Not a concern if you support STRS.

Good Neighbor Policies are touted as a way to curtail STR behaviors deemed disruptive. However, the responsibility of policing begins with the residents impacted by the non-compliant behavior. While I acknowledge that this is a first world problem, it is very stressful to policemultiple new ‘neighbors’, who are doing nothing other than enjoying their vacation in a short term residential hotel located in one’s neighborhood.

Del Mar is faced with a transformative community issue.  A STR opening next to one’s home will certainly create a very different quality, quantity, and intensity of home use often at odds with a mellow neighborhood vibe.  As a long-term year around resident, I urge our city council and citizens to say NO to STRS in our residential neighborhoods.

Suren G. Dutia
11th Street
Art Olson’s interview with Adam Birnbaum in April 2016 issue of Sandpiper touched my responsive chord.  Having periodically observed and interacted with Adam over the last 25 years, calling him Del Mar’s Superhero is spot on.  Adam epitomized what public service is all about.  In addition to his sensitivity and fine values that were nicely revealed in this interview, Adam is one of the most knowledgeable, objective, experienced, helpful and a consummate professionals I have met.  Like many in this community, we are grateful for his exemplary service and job well done.  Adam will be truly missed. 
RE: Welcome Kent Clarke
Camilla Rang
10th Street

This is really silly, but as a Swedish-American, I just couldn't stop myself from informing Mr. Kent Clarke that the word "Ombudsman", is from the old norse (actually Swedish) language, still used in all the Scandinavian countries.  It, of course, means a person who has been authorized to speak on behalf of someone else, a representative. The word appeared written for the first time in a Danish law in the year of 1241.

Broken down, there are three words: 
Om means about
Bud means message
Man means man

So, in short, a man about messages :)

And it would be great to get one in Del Mar that can carry our messages. Welcome Kent Clarke!

Re: Watergate is a needed addition
Ann Silber
Avenida Primavera
Have you looked at the HUD project on El Camino Real south of Del Mar Heights Road?  It was designed by Rob Quigley back in the days of Bush I..  I haven't looked lately but it is an example of low-income housing after many years of occupancy.
It is the first development south of the road which leads up to the library and community pool.  Take a look.  It might help you convince the Del Mar skeptics that Watermark is a needed addition to our community - or pay the fine for not having the city's supply of this component on their books!  Cut down the size if you want it to pass a vote!
Re: Navy Medica Center San Diego Surf Clinic
Bob Burke
Navy Medical Center San Diego Surf Clinic
On behalf of the Navy Medical Center San Diego Surf Clinic, (which occurs every Thursday at the main lifeguard station as a therapy for injured service people) we’d like to sincerely thank the long term assistance that the City of Del Mar Lifeguards have provided. Led by the amazing Pat Vergne, the lifeguards have helped in every way imaginable- safety, setup, equipment, as well as being warm and welcoming to patients and volunteers alike for well over 5 years. 
Re: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Coastal Commission
Jeff Barnouw 
Amphitheatre Drive

On February 10 the Commissioners voted to 5 to dismiss the Executive Director Dr. Charles Lester, who had been recommended by the previous, long serving Executive Director Peter Douglas to succeed him and unanimously voted in by the Commission in 2011. By all public accounts,  Doctor Lester had done an excellent job since assuming office.  The key question remains unanswered : Why?

Complete text in pdf format

D. B. Shelton
Sea View Avenue

One day before long, beautiful homes like those near I-5 on San Dieguito Drive, the fine homes along Jimmy Durante and in the Heather Lane/Sea View/Luzon extended area will all converge at this corner. Hopefully, the Southfair architecture will extend to or fill the corner on the west side of Jimmy Durante. It is very important that the corner be "Del Mar.”

If the corner is to be residential whether individual homes, condos, townhomes, I favor architecture similar to Del Mar Woods, the Dominy jewel between the tennis courts and 23rd St on CDM. the two homes on thRe: e SW and NW corners of 27th/CDM, the Beach Colony townhomes at the bridge/CDM, the various Del Mar Dean Meredith designs.  No property line to property line Chock-a-Block proliferation like Watermark threatening the landscape behind it. If the corner is to be commercial. I favor a lesser sized version of Southfair architecture. 

RE: Coastal Commission in Disgrace
Hershell Price
Grand Avenue
My wife and I drove from Del Mar to Morro Bay [on Wednesday. February 10] to attend the Coastal Commission meeting where the dismissal of its Executive Director, Dr. Charles Lester, was to be determined. Over 682 coastal advocates also traveled from all over California to let their thoughts be known and to support Dr. Lester.  The meeting lasted for over 10 hours and not one person spoke in favor of his termination.  The Chairman had to finally quit taking testimony from individuals because there was no more time left in the day. To repeat, after 10 hours of testimony, there was 100% support for retaining Dr. Lester.

But did that matter? Not one iota, because they went behind closed doors – that’s called Closed Session – to determine Dr. Lester’s fate.  In about an hour the Commissioners came out to greet the huge crowd and tell everyone that on a 7 -5 vote, they had decided to terminate Dr. Lester, in spite of the supportive testimony that had been given, including support of over 150 of the Coastal Commission Staff.  Everyone was in shock and very depressed. One vote the other way and the result would have been different.
Olga Diaz, an Alternate Commissioner from Escondido and a proclaimed environmentalist who has rarely attended any meetings, voted to sack Dr. Lester.  Her vote for him and the environment would have kept his job secure and we could have had a joyous outcome.  She was not ethical enough to vote to keep him, after listening to the overwhelming testimony in favor of Dr. Lester.  To add insult to injury, she was then quoted by Logan Jenkins in the San Diego Union Tribune, calling the hearing a “circus”, a vicious insult to all who had attended and testified.  She is now being called an Environmental Traitor and the evidence of her vote tells why. 

For those Commissioners who voted to DISMISS, this question remains to be answered:  If everyone in attendance spoke in support of Dr. Lester, how could they vote to DISMISS?  If everyone, or most everyone, had spoken against Dr. Lester, their decision to vote to DISMISS would be easy to understand, but the case was just the opposite.  AN EXPLANATION TO THE PUBLIC IS WARRANTED AND MUST BE MADE.
RE: The Naming of the River Path
Freda Reid
Cuchara Drive

I  note that in the current paper there are several references to River Path Del Mar. You should be aware of this form of the name as you refer to it  as Del Mar River Path.

This seems a small matter but, in fact , when we named the trail we had a serious discussion on how to do it. The river is actually the San Dieguito River and we wanted to keep that name related, as it is, to a long river ( for California) and to the San Dieguito Lagoon and the San Dieguito RIver Park.  We wanted to emphasize that the River Path is in Del Mar but that the river's  name is San Dieguito River not Del Mar River. You will see the correct name on the sign on JD Blvd.

The River Park website now has this correct  and we hope you can do the same. It is easy to perpetuate wrong names as, for example,  Anderson canyon, which has almost lost its real name:  Del Mar Canyon  Preserve to complement Del Mar Bluff Preserve at the North end of town. I believe the Anderson name does not represent a gift to the city but  is related to a land swap.

Re: CIVIC CENTER meeting on January 4
Tanya Blaclkshaw
10th Street

January 4. 2016

I agree with my neighbors [Julie Maxie-Allison and Brad Allison on] 10th Street regarding the City Hall Project, as I have participated in the ongoing process of this development and every time the concept was presented the drawings did not incorporate the changes that were agreed upon so it is hard to visualize the overall concept without final design graphics being presented.  It appears in your editorial that we are the bad guys opposing this project at the "11th hour."  Also, in the final EIR it states that "the outdoor plaza will be for performances, art exhibits, gatherings......at times using amplified sound systems."  This is the first time I have read or heard about this "amplified sound system".

This has turned into neighbor against neighbor and having to hire attorneys in order for concerns to be heard.

This whole thing has become a forced expedited process sans a vote from the resident's of Del Mar.  What was decided on how this was going to be financed?  In the report it states that around December 2, 2013 that a review of financing options: 1) bond financing, City assets for sale, and public-private partnerships.  I for one, would like to know what was discussed and what was decided.

You might want to do a little more research into this new city hall and "town hall" to see who really is behind and supporting this development!

Re: CIVIC CENTER meeting on January 4
Julie Maxey-Allison and Brad Allison
10th Street

January 3. 2016

The third paragraph of the editorial (?) from The Sandpiper, "Civic Center Close to Finish Line..." is not correct.

As a "nearby neighbor," 25' across from the City Hall project, I have participated in the ongoing process of planning. The plans, however, have continually been presented in a partial and/or fluid state. 

There is no defined plan, cost analysis or defined operational policy. We have made our concerns known.

FYI: we, the "nearby neighbor," live on a quiet dark sky street and have co-existed with the current city hall without incident. We want to be sure that our peace, quiet, privacy and stability are assured just as you want for your neighborhood.

Perhaps your editorial comments should wait for the final building designs, financial plan, operational codes and public approval process.


In-and-Out Rentals
Gina C. Mattern, resident in the Beach Colony, Camino Del Mar | an "experieced investor in home and rental properties" working for Willis Allen in Del Mar.  She "own[s] and manage[s] rental property in the coveted Beach Colony of Del Mar."
December 11. 2015

The article In-and-Out Rentals [December 2015], comes with a clever title, but little else. 

Looking at a bigger picture and avoiding the “buzz words” may help ponder the question:  Does Del Mar REALLY have a short term rental problem?  Del Mar has a history of contentiousness between neighbors regarding building, views, fences, trees all being played out in at the council meetings – could the STR issue be another hot issue to gripe about?  Could the "issue" be  personal or localized just between a few who are unhappy with their neighbors in general? 

Will a ban on STR really solve the issue of bad neighbors?  Noisy people, inconsiderate parking, excessive trash can all continue within a 30+ day rental.  For the cities that are consistently quoted as having banned STR (Manhattan Beach, Palm Desert), is there any research to suggest the ban improved the neighborhood and reduced or eliminated the problems that had been complained about?  How has enforcement of the ordinance played out? 

I sit as the current President on our homeowner’s Board.  Our experience has been the complete opposite of what is being proposed.  Our 16 unit building had been a blight in the Beach Colony.  It was long known for excessive parties, noise, trash and a general nuisance.   The Homeowner who lived above me had a party every weekend – I would have gladly welcomed a STR.  The building and its occupants changed when the majority of the owner’s decided to rent as vacation rentals so that they could “vacation” there as well.  Of the 16 units, we have 3 year-round tenants, 3 who only use it for their personal use and 10 who rent as vacation rentals.  We did not have to change our rules, instead, we chose to practice the “good neighbor” policy, meet, discuss, share ideas and connect as a community.   Del Mar may want to take a page out of our book!

Ban short Short-term rentals
Hershell Price, former Planning Commissioner, Grand Avenue
November 16, 2019

I am in support of a ban on rentals of less than 30 days in all Residential Zones.  The Del Mar Municipal Code should NOT be amended to allow short term rentals of less than 30 days.

There should be no amendment to Title 9 of the Municipal Code to establish a new chapter to regulate and issue permits for short term rentals, as requested by City Staff in its presentation to the Planning Commission last Tuesday, November 10th. 

I would be in support of a Municipal Code amendment stating the following:

Rentals of less than 30 days are not permitted in any residential zone throughout the City of Del Mar

Do not ask our City Council to legalize residential rentals of less than 30 days.  The future of Del Mar as we have known it is at stake.  Short term rentals are no longer just “Mom and Pop” operations during the summer.  The Vacation Rental Industry has invaded our tiny community and it is detrimentally affecting all of our neighborhoods in the beach areas and up on the hillside too, and it is getting worse each year.

If rentals of less than 30 days are legalized and given permits to operate, there will never be a way to turn back the clock.   A Mini-Hotel will have the right to do business next door to your home and forever disturb your peace of mind and quality of life.

As these short term rentals continue to increase, strangers will be coming and going through our neighborhoods at all times of the year.  Is this why we moved to Del Mar?  I think not, and so do a growing number of our permanent residents and registered voters of Del Mar.

Unless you want even more Mini-Hotels doing business in Del Mar – and perhaps next to your someday, do not let our City Council legalize rentals of less than 30 days in any residential zone within Del Mar.

If the Municipal Code can be modified so that Short Term Rentals are not permitted, the City would then have the power it needs to STOP the Vacation Rental Industry and other property owners from renting to rowdy, noise-making and disrespectful vacationers. Life could then go on in Del Mar as it has for many generations.  We must act now to make this happen!

Impacts of Limits
Gina C. Mattern, realtor investor | Camino Del Mar
November 23, 2015
The most concerning is limits on the numbers of days per month or year. This would have a huge impact on my ability to generate revenue AND limit how many visitors are likely to come enjoy Del Mar.
1 only rent my property in the summer. So to limit the number of days in a month I could rent force me to turn away visitors and money. On average I am able to get 9 weeks of the 12 weeks of summer booked.
I have owned my property 15 years, in the past (before I moved into the condo) it was available for rent year round. I averaged between 165 to 180 days of occupancy. It appears to be a misconception that vacation rentals arc booked continuously. It is certainly not the case in the 16-unit complex I reside in. The best year I had was a 65% occupancy rate.
Let’s focus on encouraging being good landlords or property managers. Educating the community on how vacation rentals are vital to Del Mar’s economy.
Not very welcoming Del Mar!  Short-term rentals
Gina C. Mattern, Camino del Mar | an "experieced investor in home and rental properties" working for Willis Allen in Del Mar
November 12, 2015

Disappointed to see such slanted journalism in Ann Gardner's story "Milking the Cash Cow".  I write to you sitting on the pile of rental income -- not!

Never once does she mention the impact that tourism has on Del Mar's economy, or the long and extended rental history of Del Mar.  Tourism is THE economy in Del Mar, we, as a community should do every thing we can to bring tourists to our city.  They eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores and purchase our real estate.  

Del Mar gave up the train station preventing tourist of landing smack dab in the middle of our village and now they want to close the doors on renting to them!  Not very welcoming Del Mar!  It sounds a bit like "sour grapes" from owners - we bought here and now want our community to ourselves.

Rentals are nothing new to Del Mar (at least not in the last 20 years).  When my family first starting renting in 1995 we looked in the local paper or went to a real estate company.  There was NEVER a shortage of short term rentals.  I believe the only real difference is how exposed everyone is to the rental industry from the internet.  No longer do you see ads in newspapers or use an agent.  

As mentioned in the article, other coastal communities are closing their doors to visitors who want to enjoy the beach for a quick stay.  Where are the weekly vacationer to go? How sad it would have been for me to not be able to take my family to the beach for a week's vacation...and eventually purchase property here.

Owner's are not "getting rich quick" on becoming a vacation landlord, those who have low mortgages and overhead are certainly netting a higher return on investment, but like so many of us (and that includes me) it is "break-even" at best.

Instead of pitting long term vs short term against each other, look to see how both are vital to the community and our economy.  Maybe a management class should be offered to errant owners so they can better screen their tenants.


Comments for the Planning Commissioner
Short-Term Rentals
Betty Wheeler, resident:
November 11, 2015


An increasing number of short-term rentals in Del Mar involve year-round rental of the entire house, frequently for very short periods with a high turnover rate, and with the owner permanently off-site. In these cases, the house is really no longer a residence at all, but rather, a business operation. I urge you to carefully consider the impact on residential neighborhoods of allowing business uses to take place that would not be permitted if they were any business other than vacation rentals. I also urge you to carefully consider the impact of short-term rentals on issues of affordability, civic engagement, and neighborhood quality.

Some key points:
The only differences between a B&B or small boutique hotel, neither of which is allowed in residential zones in Del Mar, and a short-term rental, are essentially negative -- there is no staff on site to monitor inappropriate guest conduct, to deal with complaints from neighboring properties, or to ensure compliance with occupancy limits or parking rules.

full text here

Overwhelming positive Impact: Short-term Rentals
Jonah Mechanic, Bonair Way, La Jolla | manager of short-term rentals on 11th Street, 12th Street, and 27th Street in Del Mar
November 9, 2015
Short term rentals provide alternative accommodations to visitors who spend money in the city of Del Mar. They also allow homeowners to supplement their income which in turn leads to them investing this money back into their homes, which leads to nicer houses and a better community.  In addition, if done correctly, these guests do not have a negative impact on the community.  Also, owners property rights need to be protected as long as these guests are not having a negative impact on the community.  There needs to be a balance between reasonable peace and quiet to your neighbors and an owners property rights. When there is an opportunity for income some people will take advantage and push the limits as far as they can.  However, we must understand that these are the minority of short term rental owners, not the majority.  Common sense regulations are needed and they need to be enforced.  Occupancy limits, noise restrictions with fines to both the owner and the guests, and parking restrictions are all ways to accomplish this goal without sacrificing homeowners rights. community.  The overwhelming majority of short term rental owners and guests have a positive impact on the community. Yes, there probably are a few bad owners and bad guests. but there is no reason to punish the majority because of the minority.  Let’s implement common sense regulation to force the few bad owners and guests out and protect the rights of the responsible owners and guests.
Being a Good Neighbor
Bruce McDermott and family, 25th Street
November 7, 2015
Part of getting along in life is to be self-aware of one's own output and to listen to input.

The dialogue, letters and passion surrounding the Short Term Vacation Rental agenda is heated for sure. Change is difficult for all involved.

As a Short Term Vacation Rental owner, my family and I understand the issues (noise, trash, community) and we're very mindful and sensitive to not being the host of a party house. We rent to people that are respectful of our home, pay a substantial deposit to provide us a sense of their commitment to our terms and abide by our Good Neighbor rules we post and are included in the agreement. Paramount to those rules are "respect for neighbors". So far, we've had some great guests over the years. And yes, we've had a couple of tenants that needed reminders but on the whole we are respectful and have neighbors that will hold us accountable. That's a good thing.

The City Council Members and Planning Commission Members will be hearing from all sides and all we ask is for fairness and to take steps that help us evolve to the best solutions for all and not a swift move for the sake of moving on.
Better and better
Jan McMillan, 12th Street
November 4, 2015
The Sandpiper gets better and better!  Keep it up!   
Overbuilding/DRB - Alternative View
Ingrid Hoffmeister, 10th Street
October 18, 2015
The dark adjectives used by your writer of "‘Residents’ Angst,"  filled me with great sadness. Such blaming, negative narrative feeds bad feeling plus the polarization of residents. New or old residents (our neighbors) who want to build or refurbish their homes on a larger scale have every right to do so if they have received approval from our City Planners. Any changes to codes or issues with bulk and mass must be initiated by our City Planners…right? The radiance and splendor of living in our community includes more than bricks and mortar, it includes the relationships we forge with our neighbors. I live in a quiet alley off Stratford Court where four large homes have been built or refurbished over the past three years. During that time I have been treated with great respect and consideration by all parties. Have I been inconvenienced…YES, but that is the nature of life. If we are overbuilding let us direct our feelings to the City, and Sandpiper, please help stop this verbal abuse by NOT using it yourself. The majority of residents are doing what the City is allowing.
Astounding Noise from KAABOO
Ralph Reisner, Surf View Court
October 12, 2015As you are aware, a number of Del Mar residents have according to various media reports and acknowledgements by city staff, complained about the astounding noise associated with the Kaaboo concert.  Some of the complaining residents were more than 2 miles or more, from the fairgrounds and still experienced the vibrations and sound emanating from the fairgrounds.  In our case, we live approximately 1.5 miles from the fairgrounds and the noise, at least on Sunday evening was at the low end of the scale sufficient to vibrate the walls. I would like to suggest to the editors that the issues associated with the astounding concert noise is part of a much larger problem, which deserves extended treatment by the Sand Piper.  Basically, the problem is an ostensive one where the fairgrounds administration has felt entitled in past years to pursue policies that are in some cases contra to state law, and in other cases ignore the ordinances of surrounding communities even though the policies which the fairground has in various cases adopted have an immediate and deleterious effect on surrounding communities.   Ralph Reisner, Surf View Court Click here for full text in pdf format
Yellow Journalism
Jan Kinney, 9th Street

October 8, 2015 The Sandpiper has stooped to a new low by using a doctored photograph of four separate construction projects merged into one on the front page!  You have indeed done an excellent job of exemplifying Yellow Journalism--journalism that exploits, distorts and/or exaggerates the news to create sensation and attract readers. Did you have to make your case in supporting a growing number of residents who sense the rules are being manipulated to achieve projects that are out of scale within various neighborhoods by manipulating (your word) the photograph? There are a number of residents who feel the new homes being constructed will add to the beauty and charm of Del Mar.  For those residents who don’t want basements, pools, outdoor living spaces, etc., may I suggest you place deed restrictions on your property and leave the rest of us alone. Jan Kinney, 9th Street
KAABOO Unsuitable for Del Mar
Bob Jellison, Mira Montana Drive
September 21, 2015 Thank  you for providing a number to report noise issues - but since the calls simply went to an answering machine it is not clear how that could possibly help. Admittedly a Kaaboo like event worked well in the desert community of Indio, but why anyone thought a similar event could possibly be suitable for Del Mar is completely beyond my understanding.
goodbye old Torry pine Friend
Gail Miller, Stratford Way

September 6, 2015
This is the Gaylen Pavelko property at 1661 Luneta/Stratford Way.  The charming structure was leveled to make way for a large house.  Even more sad is that they also cut down the magestic old Torry Pine in the picture.  Just think of all the life that went with it. Drive by... It's gone.......
TPAC Forum a year late
Jan McMillan, 12th Street
August 19, 2015 Thanks for letting everyone know, and thanks to TPAC for scheduling a forum.  Unfortunately, it appears that everything has already been decided, with the event only weeks away.  My question is:  Why didn't the City hold a forum a year ago, or whenever the discussions with the Fair Board began?   
Another View of Beach Cleanup
Dave Sykes, Ocean Front

August 10, 2015 Beach cleaning has been and should always be a top priority for Del Mar.  This includes as much kelp removal as possible from the river mouth south to 14th street.  Keeping the beach clean, odor free and groomed is pleasing to the locals and tourist alike.  How about the fact that a large portion of the city's revenue comes from tourism, tot taxes and sales tax from the tourist plus all the parking tickets issued to the tourists. Tourist and locals don't like beaches that are covered with kelp, flies and trash or smell from decaying debris.   Pretty straight forward stuff.
Environmentally Destructive Policy on Del Mar Beaches 
Steve Denyes, 19th Street

August 2, 2015 I am a lifelong Del Mar resident and an avid beach-goer. This Friday, after a morning surf, I was deeply dismayed to see that Del Mar has begun an extremely destructive beach grooming/kelp removal program on our beaches. As you know, Del Mar has used a beach-cleaning machine for decades. This machine skimmed the top layer of sand to remove trash and debris. The machine was not capable of processing large amounts of kelp so the operators typically maneuvered around it. Because of this, its negative environmental impact was far less than what is now in place. On Friday, a new machine was introduced that is specifically designed to remove kelp, also known as “wrack,” from our beaches. It rakes and grooms the sand, digging 6-8 inches deep leaving a groomed, lifeless trail in its path. Steve Denyes, 19th Street
full letter in pdf format
Fire in Crest Canyon Averted
Thank you to the Del Mar Fire Department
Linda and Frank Chisari, Crest Road
July 18, 2015
Here’s a shout out to the Del Mar Fire Department who responded so quickly and effectively to the fire in Crest Canyon this morning.  Within minutes of the bright flash and immediate thunder crack that startled us as we were fixing breakfast in our Crest Road kitchen this morning (July 18), several fire trucks were racing south past our house and gathering at the intersection Crest and Hoska.   From the road, it was easy to see many courageous firefighters scrambling down to the flames at the bottom of the Canyon, drowning them with water shot from a huge firehose and cutting brush to prevent the flames from spreading up the hill. A few minutes later, the fire was out and our canyon and our homes were safe.  We are very lucky to live in a beautiful but wild-fire prone community that’s blessed by a Fire Department that responds so quickly and professionally to threats such as this that put our canyon, our community, and our lives at risk. Thank you to all the brave firefighters who did that for all of us this morning and every day of the year.
Alvarado House
Larry Brooks, President DM Historical Society
July 3, 2015
Last Sunday, a man named Arturo visited the Alvarado House in the garden section of the fairgrounds with his wife and two young children.  They spent many minutes going from room to room with one of the docents, as the docent explained the various rooms and answered questions for the family.  This prompted many lengthy conversations between Arturo and his children.  As the family was leaving the house, Arturo, in broken and halting English, thanked the docents for having the house available for him to share with his family, particularly his young children.  He told of how he grew up in a similar very Spartan environment and how he tried today to give his children a better life than he had experienced.  Soon he had tears running down his cheeks as he thanked the docents yet again, and then he quietly left the house.   The Alvarado House was the first house sold in Jacob Taylor’s Del Mar in 1885.  It was on the lot that became 144 10th Street and was lived in for 100 years.  The house is known by the name of its first owner, Don Diego de Jesus Alvarado, one of the last “Silver Dons” who ruled the great land grant ranchos that once covered large areas of San Diego County.  As the Del Mar Historical Society works to return Alvarado House to Del Mar, the community is reminded that there is more to Alvarado House than just its age and its contents.
Thank You, Del Mar!
Jim Watkins, Camino Del Mar and Kit Leeger, Solana Beach
June 26, 2015
We are impressed with the progress that has been made toward creating a dynamic new Civic Center for our Community.  We salute the current and recent Council members and staff members Kathy Garcia and Scott Huth for their persistent, wise leadership in bringing our Community together in support of this worthy endeavor.  My daughter, Kit Leeger and I have spent countless hours creating a design vision for an exciting grand plaza for a variety of community, civic and social events, Del Mar’s own Village Square.  We know that future decisions are yet to be made about other potential uses of the site, perhaps public or private.  We stand ready to continue offering our professional services to help the Community and its leaders in achieving this important goal and we thank all those who have contributed so much to bring us to this point.
Bob Fuchs, Founder of WhatPriceMainStreet coalition of concerned community residents.
June 18, 2015
In response to Ann Gardner's article Killjoy for Kilroy - Sandpiper June 2015 here
I have to congratulate the Sandpiper in publishing one of the most complete, accurate, and mildly congratulatory [pieces] ... for the many people who put in untold hours to accomplish the reversal of what people across the county, and even the country, have called “a done deal."  I thank you for giving me a platform early on to try to raise awareness of the debacle that was in front of us in the form of One Paseo. Keep up the good work.
100% correct
Debra Mills, Ocean View Avenue
May 26, 2015

In response to Scott Renner’s Commentary in the May 2015 issue: Air AssaultWe also live next to a short term vacation rental house. After paying the price of admission to live in Del Mar by actually purchasing our home, we discovered that a house directly adjacent to us was owned by an absentee owner who had, we understood, “inherited it from a relative” and was owned and operated solely as a short term vacation rental. We realize the vacationers are paying good, in fact VERY good money for the privilege of renting this house for the few days they are here, and we also appreciate that the owner of the home has the right to do what he wishes with his property. However, for nearly two decades, this house has been the subject of many a sleepless night, not to mention run ins with with the visitors, rental company and absentee homeowner for us, as well as our neighboring homeowners. The vacationers are, as Mr. Renner states, in “vacation mode,” and we are in “this is our home” mode. Is it fair to either party to have “vacation village” smack dab in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood? Perhaps the answer is to make a minimum stay requirement. Two weeks... Thirty days...?
Overflowing Trash
D.B. Shelton, Seaview Avenue
May 26, 2015

PIPE UP in response to Scott Renner’s Commentary in the May 2015 issue: Air Assault. 
Sandpiper May 2015 article here
I think [Scott Renner] is 100% correct. I won't go into the details with my
experience because I know and like the owners of the home involved.
Suffice it to say that with the owners living elsewhere this was a
years long series of one and two week rentals. The main problem being
overflowing trash/garbage cans that often failed to get to the street
for pickup and additional noise. Incidentally, you may find that some owners consider that they "can
rent to anyone they damn well please" - whenever they please.
No More Signs !!!
Mark Stuckelman, Luneta Drive
May 26, 2015

PIPE UP in response to Ira Sharp's Commentary in the May 2015 issue:
Cycle Citation - Sandpiper May 2015 article here
We don't need more sign clutter.  We don't need separate signs telling cyclists to stop at stop signs.  As a long time cyclist, I'm well aware that it is illegal to run a stop sign on a bike anywhere in California.  Having ridden with many local groups, I can also convey that local cyclists are well aware that the stop signs in Del Mar are well patrolled by sheriffs who love to hand out tickets to cyclists.  I'm not adverse to slowly rolling through a stop sign when I have great visibility in all directions and see no potential hazards.  It's a pain to constantly stop, click out of your pedals, click back in and start up again.  But you better believe I fully stop at every sign in Del Mar and I'm fine with that. I do however have a problem with the inordinate amount of attention and resources that are being dedicated to this issue.  There are much greater risks to public safely than cyclists rolling through stop signs.  Crossing Camino Del Mar at 12th Street crosswalk is a near death experience.  I would estimate that cars fail to stop 80% of the time I cross despite having pushed the button to start the flashing lights.  I would love to see more enforcement resources dedicated to ticketing cars that fail to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.  It's only a matter of time until there is another tragic accident.

No Sense of Community
Gale Darling, Wesley Lane
May 21, 2015

In response to Scott Renner’s Commentary in the May 2015 issue:
Air Assault

I feel the same as Scott Renner does about short-term rentals. I also live next door to an airbnb (hotel) property. Not knowing your neighbors and strangers checking in routinely is disruptive. I don’t like the short-term rentals because you don’t have a sense of community and familiarity.

Heartwarming Professional Attack
Dave Ulrey, 13th Street
May 21, 2015

In response to the Sandpiper’s eBlast Thursday evening, May 21st, announcing that the San Diego City Council had repealed its approval of the One PASEO project.

Thank you. Watching your professional attack on this monster of a project has been heartwarming.


Nothing to Do with Affordable Housing
Richard L. Anglin, Heather Lane
April 3, 2015

Opposition to Watermark has little if anything to do with affordable housing and absolutely nothing to do with the characteristics of the people that might live in such housing.

Opposition to Watermark is based upon the City officials' more than a decade of inaction in addressing the State affordable housing mandate.  Each group of politicians, appointees and staff has kicked the can down the road for the next group to deal with it.  The can has gotten larger and the City is out of road.
It is based upon an opportunistic developer who seeing the City's political problem has tendered an egregious project that will exact an incalculable price for solving the City's political problem.

It is based upon a project totally out of character with other projects approved on this parcel and elsewhere in the City.  Watermark has no building setbacks, no open space, building mass and a land coverage ratio greater than the now infamous One Paseo, to which the City formally objected.  Watermark is One Paseo Junior with all of its attendant impacts on surrounding neighborhoods and the City at large.


Disappointed in the Sandpiper
Julie Korsmeyer Oribia Road
March 28, 2015

Never have I heard anyone use the word "undesirables" to describe the potential residents of Watermark. "Undesirable" is certainly appropriate to describe the plan to build 48 housing units on a 2.37 acre lot adjacent to the lagoon and the entrance to Del Mar and Crest Canyon.

I have lived in Del Mar for 30 years. I remember the fight to scale down the Plaza and the Auberge. How is it that now an oversized residential development on a zoned commercial lot is A-OK. Could it be that it is out of the view of those living on the west side of Del Mar?

I was one of the founders of the Sandpiper. We were proud that our mission was to educate the community about the Community Plan and the need for responsible development through citizen involvement. Does the Sandpiper now seek to stifle dissent through intimidation and spurious, unfounded comments?

Back in the old days it was Green vs. Gray, but we're over that. Statements like those contained in your "News Updates" column can only serve to divide the community. West vs. East anyone?

Sandpiper, I am very disappointed. 



Dear Editor:

Thank you so much for taking the time to write about the Little Free Library Del Mar.  As the goal behind installing the Little Free Library was to encourage and build community, I was saddened to read the disparaging tone of the article; it seems our little library didn't meet the writer's expectations and therefore, as a whole, falls short. 

The "sidewalk library" movement is a growing movement not just across the country but across the world and almost all of these "sidewalk libraries" are installed on private property.   There is an easement for access through Del Mar Woods condo complex and while Stratford Court ends in a cul de sac just to the south of the Little Free Library it is quite easy to drive your car right up to the Library and stop to check it out.  We have a regular cadre of walkers, runners, cyclists who pass the Little Free Library every day.   It is through the sharing of books and ideas I hope that people will come to know one another, meet each other on the sidewalk and have a conversation (as apparently your writer did meet someone from the community who stops by the Little Free Library almost daily to see what might be new).  This kind of face to face conversation (as opposed to online or electronic conversation) is what we hope to foster with the installation of the Little Free Library.

Kate Zimmer, Stratford Park Circle, Steward of the Little Free Library
The Sandpiper artcle about the Little Free Library  here


Dear Editor:

Del Mar employees know every inch of our city and care about it. Many times we residents aren’t aware of the initiative, problem solving skills, innovation and concern for preservation of funds that these women and men employ improving our city.

Here’s one recent outstanding example.

Del Mar has had parking meters for about 25 years. Five years ago solar powered meters were first marketed. The city is now in the midst of replacing the old nickel/cadmium ones with the new ones. Solar charges a storage battery that powers the meter clock, credit card processor and cell phone type communicator. These new meters last longer and allow credit card use which is expected to increase usage that in turn in time will pay for the new technology.
The solar parking meters are not designed for two coin collection boxes that our existing meters have. This means that the parking enforcement employee must unlock two separate boxes to retrieve the coins. This would double the time of collection.

This is where 42-year Department of Community Services employee Eric Sandy took the initiative to work with engineers to design a special metal plate to be installed between the old collection boxes and the new meter which allows the coins for two cars to fall into the single container.

Savings also come from reduced collection time. Because of the use of credit cards, coin collections can be made less often. Consequently the Finance Department will spend less time processing coin collection money. The city will save over $5,000 because the old collection buckets will not have to be replaced.

Before long these meters will be available all over the city including in shady spots and in the parking garage at L’Auberge. Using a cell phone type signal booster these areas will get very good reception.

For these reasons it’s hoped that at his next performance review the City will recognize this valuable employee financially for his contribution to the city.
(Community Services Department includes lifeguard services, parking enforcement, facility use permits, the park ranger and regulation of surf and volleyball camps.)

Karen Lockwood, Crest Road

Dear Editor,

At the request of the Del Mar City Council, our city staff has assembled a comprehensive amount of information on our city’s facilities needs with the option of selecting a replacement site for our derelict City Hall. This leads to a reflection on what the Camino Del Mar site represents for our community. At the present time it is the location of our administrative offices and the TV studio, where our City Council meets. Built in 1984, the studio also provides the Council with a recently remodeled meeting room for its closed sessions. Only the administrative building is in urgent need of replacement.

What has gone unmentioned is an analysis of the many other activities that take place on the Camino Del Mar site. These activities actually make the site the modern equivalent of the medieval “commons”. Old village communities in England used the word “commons” to characterize lands held in common, thrown open to members of the community for their temporary private uses: at that time sheep grazing, feed for cattle, wood for repairs. Today, as in the medieval commons, the land belongs to one entity, our City, but other entities can use it temporarily for their benefit. In the past the library held annual fundraisers for the County Library. Today the Farmers Market benefits the merchants selling their produce and members of our community. Coast Waste management holds collection events for recyclables. We hold meetings of civic groups. We park our cars there for free. It is our “commons”.

By purchasing an existing commercial building all these functions would be orphaned. We would buy land when we already have vacant land that we own in full. We would vacate a lot in the middle of our City for an uncertain development future. Chances are good that the site will remain vacant for a very long time as the Jefferson and Gas Station lots are.

The Council has now forwarded the City Hall matter to the Finance Committee. No doubt the Finance Committee will let us know the price of everything but perhaps not the value of the property.

Jacqueline Winterer, Ocean View Avenue 03/01/14

Dear Editor,

    The survey being conducted by the city of Del Mar in regard to a new city hall and civic center is based on the premise that the citizens of Del Mar have already agreed that Del Mar should have both a new city hall and civic center. This is a false premise as a few years ago, the voters of Del Mar decided Del Mar did not need a new city hall. The current survey should have started with two questions 1) should Del Mar build a new city hall and 2) should Del Mar build a new civic center.  If both answers were "yes", the survey could proceed as is. If the answer to the first were "no", then the survey could have asked whether the current city hall should be expanded to obviate the need for portable buildings (the earthquake unsafe building adjacent the city hall could be razed to accommodate an expansion) or whether the city should rent additional space or keep the status quo. If the answer to the second were "no", the survey could ask whether Del Mar already has adequate community space in the shores school occupied by Community Connections and in the power house community center or whether additional space for a civic center should be considered in the future. 
    I am reminded that in 2012, the citizens of Del Mar voted not to raise the height limit of buildings on the west side of Camino Del Mar, but even so, the city council tried to raise the height limit anyway until faced with strong opposition from the citizens of Del Mar.  The current push and lopsided survey by the city council for a new city hall and civic center seems to be yet another attempt to strong-arm the citizenry. If the city council wants a new city hall and civic center, these buildings should be put to a binding vote on the November ballot.
Sincerely yours,

Linda Holland, Coast Blvd 01/23/14

Dear Editor,

How about building our new city hall for FREE? Hard to fathom, but yes an option that should be considered

Fact – our new city hall will cost approximately $8 million + $3-4 million for the meeting rooms that the community wants.  A total cost of $11 – 12 million.

Fact – the property where the current city hall is today has a resale value of anywhere from $7 – 12 million.
Fact – the public works property has little to no resale value because it is designated in a floodplain

What if we turned lemons into lemonade?

What if we were able to get FEMA to re-designate the public works property to a buildable site?  Poof – instantly we find a $12 million asset!

And the floodplain designation, itself, is old news.  This site has not been      reassessed since SC Edison spent $122 million on flood control.  Time to take      a fresh look at this site.  Lot’s of hurdles but well worth the investment of time and a small amount of funds.

Our city cannot afford a $12 million new city hall.  But we could build one for    free!!!!!

Next steps – the Del Mar city council needs to add this option to the list for the
community to consider.

Jim Benedict, Christy Lane 01/22/14

Dear Editor:

The sad and untimely passing of former Del Mar Mayor, Lou Terrell, will have a personal impact on many of us.  His great contributions will have a further impact on his students, the city of Del Mar and for his dedication to so many causes dear to all of us.  

We extend to his family our sincere condolences.

Maneck and Harriet Wadia, Luneta Drive, posted 01/09/14

Dear Editor:

Last week, Del Mar resident Lou Terrell was killed in an awful accident by an Amtrak train while he was trying to save his canine companion Abe from an oncoming train along the coastal bluffs.  This was terrible news for everyone, including me.

Lou was a great leader and a true friend. I am one of many friends who join family members in sympathy over his untimely passing.

Even though I am sad that Lou will no longer physically be present in our lives, I was so pleased that a standing room of family and friends overflowed the Del Mar Powerhouse this past Sunday less than 45 hours after his death to celebrate his life and his many accomplishments.

I first met Lou over eight years ago after I began serving on the Solana Beach City Council and had already been active in local and regional affairs.  Lou’s contributions to his beloved Del Mar where he served as councilmember and Mayor are well known. But he was also very active as the former President of Planned Parenthood San Diego/Riverside County, as a former Board Member of ACLU San Diego/Imperial Counties, as a co-founder of the Del Mar Foundation with Joel Holliday and he was on the Board of the Foundation for Change. He was also active at San Diego State University, where he was a political science professor and helped to groom future leaders on and off campus.

Our shared passion for equality for all people was quickly apparent and over time led to a growing friendship.

It was through Foundation for Change, a non-profit dedicated to social justice, where we cemented our friendship.  Lou had heard that my family and I lived in the former home of the singer Miss Patti Page in Solana Beach and he asked if he could hold a Meet & Greet social there.  When he was at our home one day preparing for this event, he asked me how I had so many children.  We talked about the county’s foster to adoption program and how we were blessed with a number of adopted children.  It was then that we learned that Lou’s wife, Juvenile Judge Carol Isackson, had been involved in my family’s creation during the adoption process of some of our foster children. Clearly it’s a small world, but this was a touching coincidence.

As our friendship grew, I saw how seamlessly Lou helped others reach their potential. We both loved politics and how to make the system work to improve the lives of the citizens in the region.  In my case, Lou supported my attempts to expand my ability to serve others in San Diego County with time, energy and resources.

Lou helped me to understand the dynamics of the Del Mar community and he helped to connect me with former mayors when I was running for County Supervisor.  And Lou was always ready to lend a hand to help and encourage others to help, too.  In fact, Lou came to my birthday party at my house last month to help begin my re-election campaign.

Lou was a survivor physically and mentally. He had battled and overcome brain cancer. With good humor we discussed both the joys and challenges of our aging bodies. Even with this ailment, Lou always repeated a number of his favorite expressions including, “That’s just wonderful” and “you made my life so much richer.”

Lou loved to walk his dog Abe as much as I enjoy walking my dog, Cutie, which I do with my kids.  Lou always counseled me to enjoy each day and to recognize that we only get so many days in our lives, so we had better make the most it. For me, that is one of the toughest ironies.

To the Terrell-Isackson family and all who knew Lou truly made our lives so much richer. Lou was just a wonderful man, and it is wonderful that our paths crossed so many years ago. Rest in peace, my dear friend. 

County Supervisor Dave Roberts, posted 01/09/14

full text in pdf format

Dear Editor:

Christmas Eve concert 2013 at L'Auberge. 
Peter Sprague in hat next to tree. 
Photo Mike Salt.  Click on image to enlarge.

It was over 35 years ago on Christmas Eve that a talented young musician strummed his guitar on the corner of 15th street and Camino Del Mar to the delight of residents and visitors to our community.  At the time, outside the corner shop in Stratford Square where he played was the Sugar Plum Bakery, then Carlos & Annie’s and now the Americana.  That young man was and is the internationally renowned guitarist, Peter Sprague.  It was Peter’s gift to Del Mar and what a wonderful gift it has been for our community every Christmas Eve for the past 35 years.  This Christmas Eve 2013 was the best ever as hundreds of residents and visitors gathered in the L’Auberge semi-public park across the street from the Stratford Square to listen to the wonderful music of Peter Sprague and his ensemble.  It was of particular joy to me because when I designed and built the L’Auberge I dedicated the prime commercial corner of all Del Mar as a semi-public park and a gathering place for community events.   This Christmas Eve the gathering of so many Del Mar residents to listen to Peter’s music was a fulfillment of what I envisioned the semi public park to be for our community -  

Thank you Peter for your wonderful gift over the years.

Jim Watkins, Camino Del Mar, posted 01/06/14






Dear Editor:

Thanks for your excellent editorial supporting Del Mar's leafblower ordinance.  What a coincidence that Brooke Eisenberg-Pike's "Book Corner" appeared in the same issue because it was Mayor Eisenberg who led the Del Mar City Council to create the ordinance in 1989!  Once again, Del Mar was (and still is) ahead of the game.

Jan McMillan, 12th St. 12/14/13


Google Images.  Click on image to enlarge.

Dear Editor:

With all the happy talk about Del Mar being so wonderful, and I live here and agree, in part, but with all the energy seemingly spent on stopping things i.e. traffic circles, new parking angles , new proposed projected, the town seems to be slowly wasting away. The plaza is practically empty and although I used to go there to visit a book store or go to the market, these places are no longer there and  we are left with either crazy tourist clothing stores or restaurants who last three months because no one wants to go there anymore, and the rest of the town is virtually empty, there is no where to park no handicapped parking to speak of. And even though I live here I NEVER shop in Del Mar, preferring to go to a vital town like Solana Beach, Encinitas or Leucadia, where  you can park and have a great selection of different kinds of stores and moderately priced, varied restaurants. We are so afraid of change that we have reduced this town to one where few ever go to shop, especially from outside the community, even when parking is free for a few weeks! Wake up Del Mar, before it is too late. One Paseo will be another reason why no one will shop here, they will probably have stores people want to go to and parking! Traffic circles work in Rome, Paris, Encinitas, Leucadia, lajolla, but for some reason they won't work in Del Mar, why is it not addressed that Del Mar has no market, pharmacy, or small, takeout food places. Is no one concerned that the Plaza is mostly vacant?

Melanie Gradinger, 8th Street, posted 12/14/13

re: Current Status of Watermark

Dear Editor:

There have been concerns expressed in the community regarding a proposed multi-family project at the corner of Jimmy Durante Boulevard and San Dieguito Drive.   The underlying message has been that the City is moving forward, disregarding the values of the community.  That is not correct.

Here is the current status:

An application has been submitted by a private development company for a Specific Plan for the property at the corner of Jimmy Durante and San Dieguito Drive, and it does propose multi-family housing.  However, the application was only submitted late last week and is just now undergoing an initial review by staff.   Because the application has just been filed, there have not yet been any public hearings nor any review or action by the Planning Commission or the City Council.

All aspects of the proposal will be subject to numerous noticed public hearings.  This includes any legislative proposals to apply a new land use designation or development standards to the property and to review of a project itself.  This process will allow the community to weigh the potential benefits of the project as well as any potential adverse impacts.   The City Council will review all of the information provided to make a determination on whether the project is appropriate for the community.  The project is also subject to Del Mar’s design review process, including the City’s Citizen Participation Program.  This will further ensure multiple opportunities for neighbors and other interested parties to review and provide comment on the project’s design.

The proposal will also undergo a thorough environmental review, most likely an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).  The EIR process also provides numerous opportunities for public input.   

Because we anticipate a lot of interest in this project, the City will provide a space on the Del Mar website for receipt and posting of comments.  The Council and staff look forward to hearing from the public so that complete information can be considered as the proposal moves through the multiple review processes.  

I hope this is helpful and will give your readers some assurance that the process is in place to thoroughly review the proposal and to seek community input.  Our City Council, Planning Commission, and Design Review Board will work hard to achieve a positive project outcome for Del Mar.

Terry Sinnott, Mayor of Del Mar, posted 11/12/13

Letters to to Editor
Re: Seasonal, Not Marginal



re: our October article about the arrival of the freeway in the series Del Mar Voices

Dear Editor,

I find it important that I make the following corrections from the Oct newsletter: #1. Del Mar was known as “Gasoline Alley” because of all the stations and yes it did have auto-accidents. #2. The city-hall building was original built by San Diego County Schools Dept in 1921, sold to Father Gillfillan,St James, 1950.after the students were moved to the new school on 9th/Stradford.My older brothers attendend that school. Than St. James sold it to the city . #3 “Slaughter Alley” was in Leucadia, on Hywy101 from south of La CostaBlvd to 2-blocks north of Encinitas Blvd. The Hywy Dept planted Eucalyptus trees on both sides of the road and also in the center in early ‘30s. They grew huge in no time. By the late ‘30s they were tall, and beautiful to drive between. But soon they became killers to everyone who chose to drive carelessly at high speed. When WW11 started & many millitary camps were built in the area, it truly became the most dangerous section of road to drive, specially at night. I got to see several accidents.

Tensia Moriel Trejo, Cuchara Drive, posted 11/02/13

Dear Editor,


Photos Bill Morris

About ten years ago the Fairboard (22nd. Agricultural District governing Board) started talking about a Platform stop to serve the Fairgrounds. By 2010 the NCTD (North County Transit District) came on board with the Fairboard to propose building a minimal train “Event Platform” stop north of tennis courts and south of the San Dieguito Lagoon channel. Estimated cost of project $ 1.5 million.
The Del Mar City Council, along with a petition of 400 signatures of citizens opposing this project, helped convince NTCD and the Fairboard to cancel this project. The NTCD and the Fairboard could also not afford it!

Today with the NRA( National Railroad Authority) along with SANDAG, FEMA, and NCTD on board,a New $ 110 million + version of the “Event Platform” project has been introduced with a lot more baggage. The NCTD now requires an expanded platform of 1000 feet to accommodate 10 passenger cars along with 1.1 miles of double tracking. The platform and tracking in Del Mar would have to be raised at least 8-10 feet according to FEMA. This includes the track between 28th to 21st Street. All of this adjacent to to the San Dieguito River mouth, an area much beloved for its natural beauty, sensitive habitats and compatible recreational values. Considerable time, effort and money has been spent developing the recently completed San Dieguito Lagoon Enhancement Project that now preserves these special, fast disappearing, natural values.

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and North County Transit District (NCTD) held a Public Information Open House on October 30. Additional public information meetings are planned in the future. Please visit www.KeepSanDiegoMoving.com/SDDT
or call (858) 549-RAIL for more information about the project.
Graphic from Open House flyer.

Presently, attendees can take the train to the Solana Beach station ( 1 mile to the north of Fairgrounds) and then board a free shuttle bus to the Fairgrounds. The percentage of these out-of-town attendees currently is small. At a cost of $110 million+ will a new larger, higher platform increase this percentage? And, what are the costs to Del Mar?

Why now would the Platform need to be so large and high? The Lagoon Enhancement Project was intended to increase the flood absorption properties of the lagoon area. As part of the Lagoon Project the supporting piers of the trestle/ tracks were reinforced per FEMA standards at a significant cost to withstand flooding. Homes north of the tennis courts were built to FEMA standards.

Today, 1/2 mile of double tracking exist in Del Mar and 1/2 mile in Solana Beach south of their station. There have been efforts in past to extend double tracking along the beautiful bluffs to the south in Del Mar and these efforts have been defeated by the Del Mar community. Del Mar and its citizens are being asked to support this $110 million+project. Will this project buy us more noise, congestion, loss of natural beauty and precious habitat area, loss of privacy, blight, as well as reductions in property values? Where will these trains go? Will they park and noisily sit with engines running? When do the trains go home?

What are the benefits of this Project to Del Mar and its Citizens? I am still trying to come up with an answer.

Don Coordt | Luzon Avenue posted on 11/02/13

Dear Editor,

Bud Emerson's article [Citizen Del Mar] was a terrific summary of our history here and brought back memories.  I hope it is helpful to the newer-comers and may encourage them to get involved.

Arlene Lighthall, Luzon Avenue, posted on 09/11/13

RE: “Trashing Trash Traffic” by Shirley King in the summer edition of the Sandpiper

Dear Editor,

You would have counted me as a skeptic if, a few years ago, you had you proposed the “carry in – carry out” mode of visitor trash control.  A family reunion at Maumee Bay State Park in Ohio in 2011 changed my attitude.  About 100 members of our Vexler Family Club gathered in an expansive green park on the shores of Lake Erie, where many other groups, both large and small, were enjoying the day.  I hadn’t noticed, until I tried to throw a used paper plate away, that there wasn’t a trash receptacle in sight.  The situation was brought closer to home when I realized that there wasn’t even one in a conveniently located men’s restroom.  That’s when it was explained to me that the park was a “carry-in, carry-out” public facility – you must take with you, what you bring in to the park.

With all of the groups using this park, my surprised realization was that the park was spotless – not a bit of trash lying around anywhere. Some of the more well informed members of our group had brought along large trash bags, and the Vexler Family Club with it’s 100 well-fed and well exercised members took in stride the task of packing up and carrying out all of our trash, leaving our picnic site as we had found it. I guess it can work!

Arthur Olson, Avenida Primavera, posted on 08/19/13

(Full disclosure, Shirley King, the author of the original article is my lovely, caring wife – but I wrote this letter of my own free will).

RE: Specific Plan for Watermark on Jimmy Durante

Dear Editor,

Del Mar government with developers now planning to house 54 families on the southeast corner property at the intersection of Jimmy Durante Boulevard and San Dieguito Road.  Same intersection which is Del Mars north portal entry.  A crucial designation location of significance. Residents have long stood strong to insure our city entry would be symbolic of Del Mar life: ecologically sensitive to lagoon, bluffs, residential neighborhood, etc., in other words, exemplify an environmentally sensitive land use.   

Cities can rebirth themselves, like our neighbor Solana Beach, while others like Del Mar might hit hard times, lacking creativity to revive downtown commerce and now proposing structures for 54 families to live on this corner.  City government of Del Mar has now exposed itself, not to share the same considerations nor values as the majority of Del Mar citizens.  Instead, they are committed to discard Del Mar Zoning laws, which are our fundamental protection from irrational harmful change.  Our city has already laid the ground work to move forward with this obscene and violative plan.  Their misguided plan is to change zoning code to permit residential high density use, destroy current height restrictions where natural bluffs and topography are viewable, and destroy life and home values of those neighboring residents whom believed they were protected from this type of community land plan change.  

Unfortunately, our government has victimized itself by not timely planning according to California state law.  Now, instead of dismissing staff or holding them responsible, Del Mar government chooses to ignore Del Mar residents values and all their hard fought, twenty years plus, battles over the sensitivity concerns about this property.  

City residents of Encinitas, in order to protect themselves from their city governments contrary interests and lack of sensitivities, has recently passed Prop A.  Now, the city of Encinitas can no longer change zoning laws without a public vote. 

This is the time, Del Mar citizens remove the power to change zoning laws from our government administrators.  The power to change Del Mar citizens lives so drastically, by changing zoning laws the city land plan, is too much power for only a few government officials to wield.  

Arnold Wiesel, Heather Lane,  posted on 08/13/13

Dear Editor:

Though there may be some wisdom in Carl's comments re.the Solana Beach 'upgrade' of the 101 corridor;  as a local bike rider who frequently rides the coastline, I can tell you that this new arrangement of diagonal parking that must 'push out' into a lane of traffic with little or no visibility, presents a harrowing situation for us two-wheel human-propelled vehicles.  I have had three near misses already and usually bypass the 101 in SB altogether now as a result. It is laughable that the signage designation suggests that bikers are allowed to ride in the full lane closest to the shoulder.  With the volume of auto traffic and speed these vehicles are usually traveling, nothing could be more  absurd!  This whole plan was obviously designed and approved for the benefit of local businesses with little or no regard for pedestrians and bicycles.  And to think, Del Mar nearly made the same mistake!

Drew Cady, Stratford Court

Dear Editor:

posted 05/17/13

Hats off to the members of the City of Del Mar’s Finance Committee Pension Sub-Committee for the 18+ months they spent learning the ins and outs of the City’s $23,000,000+ pension obligation. They really have a well-researched understanding of the issues and the politics and the challenges of the City’s pension liability, and as we approach the next round of budget discussions we need to lean on them and their knowledge to help guide the decisions we make as a City.

The learning curve for the rest of us is huge; we are fortunate that the Committee has done the hard work for us. I admittedly don’t begin to understand it all, but the bottom line I do understand is that we have terrific City Staff working for us who help make Del Mar a wonderful place to live, and we citizens already have $3 Million in side fund debt + $23 Million in pension debt for the work they have done (plus we continue to incur pension expenses as we go forward). 

We can’t let these numbers get any larger, we can’t leave the debt unpaid, and we can’t diddle with making minimum payments that end up being 10 times the cost (as Poway has chosen to do). We have some tough decisions ahead of us, and they need to include the commitment to pay our past debts now so that we can move forward on the other projects we desire.

Nancy Stoke,  Coast Boulevard




Fairgrounds | the Election | Beach Safety Center
Garden Project Revisited | School Board | SANDAG'S RTP

VSP: Letters concerning the Prop J received prior to election day  here

Dear Editor:

posted 11/26/12

Private Citizens and public organizations can work together and accomplish the impossible, and that is what resulted when the North County Transit District worked with a group of residents from Del Mar to reduce the train horn noise.

The Federal Railroad Act dictates train horn decibel levels at railroad crossings. In Del Mar, local residents decided to look into options to minimize the noise that pervaded the community. The group approached the city of Del Mar and formally requested to be recognized as a community group. Del Mar advised that the issue had been explored in the past, but welcomed the community involvement so long as the city would not incur any financial obligation in any outcome.

continuation in pdf format>>

The Quiet Zone Committee; Hershell Price and Lee Stein, co-chairs Pete Glaser, Don Coordt, Larry Richards, Bryce Rhodes, Jim Benedict, Casey Sullivan

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Dear Editor:

posted 11/28/12

On Monday, November 26, the City Council of Del Mar met to discuss priorities for the coming year.  It is strange that the current council would set priorities while two members are leaving, but it is even stranger that the council would allow the council members elect - Sherryl Parks and Al Corti to sit at the table prior to their swearing in. 

As of November 26, 2012, the election is not certified and Sherryl and Al have no more standing than any other member of the public.  Of course the council received a ruling from the city attorney that it was ok.

The problem also is that none of the council members new or old has not reached out to the opponents of Prop J.

At the beginning of the workshop, I strongly objected to this workshop.

At the end of the workshop I stated the following:

There are three lessons from the last election.

1) Do not change the community plan.  58% of the people like the community plan as is.
2) The public does not trust the council.  Over 51% of the people choose not to vote for any of the council members on the ballot.
3) The council needs to reach out to Hershell Price and Dave Druker about major decisions.  Hershell Price has organized the defeat of the Cottage Tax and the Village Specific Plan.  I have knocked on every registered voter’s door 4 times and have the pulse of the community.

The council needs to do the following:

1)     Find a project like the Powerhouse, Library or Beach Safety Center that will heal the community.
2)     Work on building the trust of the community by doing small projects and do the normal blocking and tackling to run the city.

David Druker, 10th St

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Dear Editor:

posted 11/10/12

Kudos to both YES and NO on J for their rapid sign removal. I cannot remember another political campaign in Del Mar that removed all their signs in what seemed like a nanosecond of the end of the campaign. Thank you for that.

Brooke Eisenberg-Pike, Hoska Drive

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Dear Editor:

posted 11/07/12

The voters have spoken. Downtown revitalization has lost the battle, but could it still win the war?

Of the numerous letters to the Sandpiper in opposition to Prop. J, one third explicitly made the point that revitalization is desirable:  “[D]owntown Del Mar needs revitalizing”, and “what Del Mar requires [is] a viable and enforceable village revitalization that projects and protects the essence of Del Mar”. Add in those who actually supported Prop. J and revitalization could well enjoy majority approval. 

    continuation in pdf format

John Kerridge, El Amigo Road

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Dear Editor:

posted 11/07/12

The VSP has been defeated, but Del Mar residents still want change. I’ve submitted a speaker slip for the November 19 City Council Hearing.  I invite concerned residents to attend this hearing and voice your ideas about how to promote downtown re-vitalization.   

    continuation in pdf format

George Conkwright, Camino del Mar

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To the Editors:

posted 10/27/12

In response to the news that the 22nd DAA has proposed a partnership with the County of San Diego that would "serve to provide local control and leadership for this valuable community asset," one must wonder why the City of Del Mar, or for that matter Solana Beach, have not been invited to participate in these discussions. 

Both Del Mar and Solana Beach have a much greater stake in the "local control and leadership" of the Fairgroungs property.  Is this just another "end run" by the wily Ag District board?  Del Mar certainly deserves to have a seat at the table where any such discussions are taking place. 

Wayne Dernetz, 9th Street  

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To the Editors:

posted 08/08/12

I attended the 7-30 city council meeting, the results of the slanted survey were discussed, the findings showed the plan to be pass or fail within the margin of error. The consensus seeming for a postponment till 2013  or later.

I find it interesting with all the time and money spent,  a demonstration project was not planned, no questions were asked about the cost of the plan, roundabouts and developing one lane, both in Project hard costs and loss in sales tax income.

Should not the voters decide if the cost when revealed, could be better spent on the bettering, beautifying the existing layout, or on a downtown Encinitas approach, say with allowing the development density increases and allocate where the new parking will be designated? Certainly  a valid areas for voter discussion.

Dennis Mulligan, 7th Street  

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To the Editors:

posted 07/19/12

I appreciate the work and effort done by the planners bringing forth the proposed Village Plan, but the plan is an overreach, having the potential to destroy the village we have all come to love and enjoy.


(1) Traffic has to move through Del Mar. It is apparent that four lanes are better than two.
(2) Roundabouts are not safe for a heavy mix of pedestrians and motor vehicles, they pit the pedestrian vs car.  The traffic light is still the best for safety, giving a definite, when to stop, and when to go.
(3)  Raising the building height to 26 feet west of El Camino Real will destroy views, especially just north of the hotel and plaza.
 (4)  The plan is based in favor of business.  Lets remember, Del Mar is a good place to live, don`t lose it.

Sincerely, William D. Daniel, Luneta Drive  

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La Jollaization of Del Mar?

posted 07/08/12

Look around and envision your future, your neighborhood and your village. Major changes to the Del Mar’s Adopted Community Plan have been proposed that have the potential to significantly alter our downtown. Call it revitalization or redevelopment; our main street may soon be transformed in ways that will redefine the character of Del Mar.

The Proposed Plan (the Village Specific Plan or VSP) calls for rezoning the “core downtown” east and west side of Camino del Mar to allow 1.0 to 1.5 (with a bonus for Exceptional Public Benefits) FAR and 26’ buildings on the west side, which could increase the amount of building area by as much as 320,000 sq ft., including residential (138 condos), hotel (43 rooms), retail (~100,000 sq ft.), and restaurants (~33,000 sq ft. or ~ 20 new restaurants). This would contribute more traffic. The Proposed Plan could introduce as many as1, 500+ cars a day but has little discussion of where these 1,500 cars would park. (There are currently 2,581 public and private parking spaces in the village center).

On the other hand, the No Project (Development Consistent with the Adopted Community Plan) Alternative could reduce 4 lanes to one-lane north and one-lane south, and adhere to current zoning. This plan might reduce commuter traffic, add parking spaces, and create a more pedestrian-friendly downtown with familiar shops, restaurants and businesses.

Should Del Mar change from a quaint, but seasonally bustling village to a more La Jolla-downtown? What are the benefits to the people of Del Mar under these plans, and do the benefits outweigh additional traffic, view blockage and densification?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then review the Draft Program Environmental Impact Report for the VSP (Proposed Plan) Appendix B; Visual Impacts (www.delmar.ca.us/Government/Pages/VillageRevitalization.aspx). Examine the building simulations and candidate-key views. It is clear how dense and tall the buildings on either side of Camino del Mar will become under the Proposed Plan…and how open and ocean views will be eliminated.
Traffic in Del Mar in the summer is congested, and I would hate to think that the redevelopment of our downtown will lead to similar traffic, year round. Change is inevitable, but the Proposed Plan seems incompatible with the existing Adopted Community Plan, and it would create a downtown density that would negatively impact residents.

Do we need 1.0 to 1.5 FAR and building heights to 26’? Can’t revitalization occur within the guidelines of the Community Plan without expansive redevelopment? As residents and participants in our citizen government, it is up to us, as a community, to decide the future of our downtown.

Justin Kulongoski, Amphitheatre Drive  

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RE: Sandpiper's photo preview of the new Beach Safety Center

posted 06/24/12

What a treat to see it this way – and especially as a way for so many others to see as well. [.....]

We, are so proud of each one of you lifeguards, and you Pat Vergne for taking the lead role through all these years to keep those as “Friends” involved and energized.  How exciting it is to see it all together!   

As one who “has seen it all from the 50s," my best, Chiquita Abbott  

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Fake Locals in Favor

posted 06/01/12

“Hate the sin, not the sinner,” was a phrase my mother often said to me when I would complain about some injustice being allowed to continue. I try to apply the lessons learned at my month’s knee (and other low joints). So it is not the big LA developer that I hate, it is the greed and dishonesty behind their slick marketing campaign and equally deceptive astroturf effort.

When I first received the glossy brochure announcing One Paseo, I was in favor of it. Then I looked closer at what was being proposed and I realized we were getting a snow job. Now that the developer has finally released the environmental impact report, I am adamantly opposed to the traffic jams this super-sized development would create.

The one area of agreement with the One Paseo project is for mixed-use development. As I collected signatures for a petition in opposition to this proposed development, most people liked the idea of mixed use but want it scaled down to what is currently allowed in the zoning. If the big LA Developer is truly listening, they should hear this community loud and clear. We want mixed use at the 510,000 square feet currently allowed in the Carmel Valley Community Plan, not a super-sized choke point.

I went from a supporter to an opponent after researching the project and discovering most of the information in favor of the development sounded the same and was from relatively new web sites. The big developer is waging an astroturf campaign. They are pretending they have grassroots support but it is phony. Look at the puff pieces written up in some of the newly created web sites. They use the developer’s same glowing descriptions of the “Main Street” waiting for us when One Paseo gets built. They would have you believe they are from our community. Their web sites state this very thing. But what do you think I found when I researched the new web sites? Another LA interloper.

Well, I don’t want to seem too parochial but my community does not stretch all the way to the traffic jams in LA. And I certainly do not want the traffic jams from LA coming to my community. But gridlock is what we will all get if my neighbors fail to act while they still have a chance. One of the expected impacts of this project is 27,000 cars added daily to our streets.

San Diego City Council is going to vote on the developer’s request to change the Carmel Valley Community Plan. Do you own investigation and call City Council Representative Sherri Lightner (858-484-3808) asking her to vote against this project. Keep the current limit of 510,000 square feet. Do not allow greed to ruin our community.

Michael Durkin, Caminito Beso, Carmel Valley   

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Dear Editors:

This attempt to urbanize the north county coast will be the single biggest detriment to the quality of life that Del Mar, Solana Beach and Carmel Valley have ever seen.  It won't matter what the Village Specific Plans are for our individual communities, as this kind of dense development will cement the fate of this region.....please write a letter, and please sign the petition and pass this along to others who care.

Drew Cady, Stratford Court

Sign petition    here>>

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dEr Sandpiper Editors:

posted 04/05/12

ICUR n d midst of fundraising. Nstead of lkn4 mor $, Y? dnt u considA cutting costs?

4 xampl, IK d Sandpiper S preoccupied W d wrd count of evryting dey prnt. dis, I imajn, S due 2 d fact dat wrds transl8 N2 column inches, n column inches r XpNsiv!

hrs w@ I propose: Nstead of printn d Sandpiper n en, as uv done sinC 1997, Y? dnt u prnt it n txtN lingo. dis w%d cut dwn d column inches n w%d av gr8r appeal 4 Del’s Mar’s yungA citizens.

Cutting dwn on column inches n @ d same tym increasn yr audience appeal, w%d clearly transl8 N2 Big $!

ll 4 cutting bk.

Percy Strings, Del Mar Terrace

Editor’s note: Thx Prc, we wl put yr sgstion whr it blngs    


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Garden Project Gets Life by Art Olson

The SANDPAPER put out this outrageous April Fool’s story. We hope most found its foolhardy fantasies amusing. In any case, here are two responses to our April Fool’s story, which may have turned the joke on us, since we’ve been unable to identify the contributors as Del Mar residents.  Original piece

Let’s Get Real

Just curious ... Is the article by Art Olson published on April 1, 2012 an April Fool’s Day joke or is it real?

Thank you. Claudia Job Kennedy   <<

Brain #@*&

The article by Art Olson is either a travesty or a tongue-in-cheek spoof for the Del Mar business persons to ponder. Such a manifestation of a “Del Mar Correctional Center” is certainly a “brain #@*&” of huge proportions... simply ghastly!

The editor, Art Olson, should have visited some communities with such a facility and determined if that added any form of “status” to the community. The dollar signs must have blinded him or twisted his weak mind to entertain such a project. It is a very negative attribute Del Mar doesn’t need. Visit El Cajon and see all the wonderful businesses around the city’s jail, or any other jail oriented town. They’re disasters from a community’s quality of life standpoint and will always be so.

Sincerely, Richard White  

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Dear Sandpiper Editors:

posted 04/08/12

After reading some of the information on the Plan For Village Revitalization, I have the following input:

1. Narrowing Camino Del Mar (Pacific Coast Hwy.) to two lanes for 6 blocks is a     primary enhancement of this plan.  Since Camino Del Mar acts as an alternative bypass when there is an accident or similar  blockage on I-5, how will the increased traffic be handled through Del Mar?

2.   How will emergency vehicles, even during normal traffic times or during Fair and Race Season, respond to a 911 call, etc. using one lane each way (6 blocks) on Camino Del Mar?

3.   I have heard your traffic expert indicate that more traffic is handled with the installation  of roundabouts.  Is that why four roundabouts are specified rather then one at 15th and Camino Del Mar intersection and one at 9th?

4.   What happened to the suggestion of improving pedestrian flow at 15th and Camino Del Mar intersection with pedestrians crossing intersection diagonally from all  4 corners at one time?

5.   The sidewalks seem adequate already for these six blocks regarding  width.  Why was the expansion of landscape areas and the expansion of seating areas for pedestrians not considered using the design concept welcomed by Encinitas?  Some the planned parking spaces would be eliminated.  The existing 4 lanes of traffic could be retained or even 3 of the 4 lanes retained.  More $ are being invested in modifying these 6 blocks street wise then the $ invested in the long past needed construction of the parking garage!

6.   Putting more $ into attractive pedestrian scale street lighting, textured/colored paving for sidewalks, attractive seating areas and quality landscaped areas along with building owners improvements will significantly enhance area.  The paving for sidewalks can serpentine or be offset to accommodate out door food services. Roundabouts are not the reason that will keep visitors and locals coming back to Del Mar.  The much needed parking garage should be built first and will do more to keep folks returning to Del Mar.

Don Coordt, Luzon Avenue  

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Dear Editor:

posted 04/08/12

Stuckelman 03/30/12 | Reisner 04/08/12

Mark Stuckelman (Letter to the Editor "Character Change," April
2012) is on point in elaborating the potentially damaging consequences
that would flow from the adoption of the plan presented to the city
council by the planning department.  Ostensibly, the "revitalization"
of the commercial area has been relentlessly pushed over the past 10
years by various interests, many of which are not even community
residents.  Judging by the publicity that has been associated with
these efforts the principal objective of  the "revitalization"
initiative has been the preservation of the villages original
character.  However as the plan is developing, it seemingly is becoming
more and more like a purely commercial venture favoring only the
interests of property owners and renters along the commercial zone of
Camino Del Mar.  As Mr. Stuckelman points out, any planning proposal
that would allow 30 ft high row buildings would severely diminish
allowable floor area ratios would do little to preserve the character
of the village but mainly  serve to enhance the select commercial
interests with little or no benefit to the community.

Also David Druker's searching commentary "A Far too Far" (same issue of
the Sandpiper) raises some fundamental issues as to the soundness of
the proposal in terms of preserving the unique character of our
community.  All in all, one has the impressions that the revitalization
process is being hijacked by  commercial interests that have little or
no interest in preserving the unique characteristics of the Del Mar
community (low density and a feeling of openness) but instead are
prepared to accept abandonment of normal zoning requirements for purely 
commercial gain.

Hopefully the current city council will adhere to the priorities and
policies of earlier city councils that have served as a bulwark against
runaway development that threatens to endanger not only the character
of the community, while causing incalculable environmental damage. 
This is not to suggest that some  upgrading of Camino Del Mar
commercial zone is not desirable, but that whatever plan is adopted to
achieve these ends, should meet desirable aesthetic and environmental

Ralph Reisner, Surfview Court  

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Dear Editor:

posted 03/30/12

Configure Camino del Mar as a one-lane one-way road with the direction changing every two hours:

North to South 6 AM-8 AM, 10 AM-12 PM, 2 PM-4 PM,
6 PM-8 PM
South to North 8 AM-10 AM, 12 PM-2 PM, 4 PM-6 PM, 10 PM-12 AM

12 AM-6 AM Camino del Mar will be closed except for emergency vehicles.

Parking and strolling will be provided in the current Camino del Mar median.

Bruce Astarita, 8th Street  

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Dear Sir (or Madam, as the case may be):

posted 03/30/12

I wonder why you keep publishing garbage like that “Ask Dr. Rich” column. Come on, his answers seldom seem to have anything to do with the questions, and he always seems to be trying to poke fun at something or someone. Isn’t that kind of mean-spirited? And have you checked that guy’s credentials? If he’s a “doctor” of anything, I’m Lady Gaga.

Dick Silsby, Calle Once  

  ( Editor’s note: Dr. Rich will be back next month.)

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posted 03/30/12

Stuckelman 03/30/12 | Reisner 04/08/12

I recently attended a City Council meeting where the Planning Director made a presentation on the development standards that are being proposed for the Village Specific Plan. I am deeply concerned about what I heard.

The Specific Plan will change zoning to allow the construction of 30 ft high buildings on the west side of Camino del Mar, versus the current 14 ft limit. These taller buildings will block sunlight, ocean breezes and views. A 30 foot high row of buildings separating downtown from the ocean would also create a tunnel feeling while walking through the Village.

The Specific Plan also calls for increasing allowable Floor Area Ratio (FAR) to 150%. This will result in massive buildings over 3 times larger than what currently exists. The added congestion from 140 new apartments, 43 additional hotel rooms and a near tripling of retail and restaurant space will dramatically increase noise, air pollution and ocean runoff. This is not appropriate in a fragile coastal environment.
The City Council has stated on numerous occasions that the Specific Plan must include strong measures to protect the character of Del Mar. Yet the proposed changes will fundamentally change the character of Del Mar and have a very negative impact on the quality of life for Del Mar residents. Del Mar is a special city. It is not worth destroying what we have in search of increased economic vitality.

I’m supportive of revitalizing downtown. However, it needs to be done in a sensible way that maintains the character of Del Mar and protects our environment.

Mark Stuckelman, Luneta Drive  

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Dear Editor:

posted 03/30/12

Kudos to the Del Mar Garden Club for donating Frank Mando’s ‘Flock of Birds’ sculpture to the City. This gift will now permanently beautify the garden that was installed by Garden Club members in front of City Hall at 11th Street and Camino Del Mar. Nearly every corner of our city has benefited enormously from the commitment to beautification of our City by our elected officials and the generosity and hard work of our Garden Club.

Virginia Lawrence, Caminito Del Rocio  

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Dear Editor:

posted 02/01/12

In January 2012, the Del Mar School Board shut down a fully parent-funded Spanish program at Del Mar Heights School.  And while the Board of Trustees followed the lead of Trustee Comischell Rodruiguez, who lobbied hard for ending the program, parents and STAFF spoke for bringing language to our district and our children.

I would like to write this letter to the  Del Mar California Teacher’s Union and to the staff of Del Mar Schools who spoke or wrote in favor of finding ways to bring programs.  DMCTA Vice President Gina Williams read a letter from the DMCTA asking the Board to find a way to keep the program.  Educators Teachers committed to education and our students spoke about the value of second language acquisition not only for our global economy but for other academic areas as well.  I was so proud to be in the audience listening to the teaching staff advocate for our children.  I was touched by the way Del Mar teachers championed a program, supported innovation and spoke out for what they felt was best for children.  I was reminded again by the DMCTA letter Ms Williams read of a comment I have heard many times at Board meetings from the Del Mar Union School District teaching staff – that fair is not equal – it is giving each child what they need.   I understand that as a parent.  I feel blessed that the teaching staff in our district live by that as well. 

Thank you Del Mar teachers for once again showing the community why you are truly the best.


Katherine White
Parent of a 4th grader  

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Dear Editor:

posted 01/04/12

Reading the Sandpiper editorial you probably wonder what in the world Carl Hilliard is thinking. I certainly would from this dispatch except for one thing: The information isn’t true.

I’ll start with the Sandpiper’s statement that I voted yes for SANDAG’s new Regional Transportation Program (RTP), a vote the paper maintains flies in the face of the California attorney general’s objections to the program’s environmental-impact report.

Actually, I argued and voted against the 14-lane SANDAG proposal. My colleagues on the Del Mar City Council and I later supported Senator Christine Kehoe’s compromise bill, SB 468, allowing for only four additional carpool lanes while requiring that North County coastal mass-transit projects be built out before highway construction begins.  The lane-reduction compromise was adopted by SANDAG and became part of the RTP.

No one was kept in the dark about this, as the Sandpiper editorial insinuates. The public was in the know from the get-go through expansive media coverage and a continuous flow of information to the communities.

As far as the Sandpiper’s comment about the attorney general’s office decrying the five-volume environmental report, that’s an inaccuracy. The objection in question addresses the Sustainable Communities Strategy, specifically greenhouse gas studies beyond 2035. Since none of the cities in San Diego County have a general plan that goes beyond 2035, current projections are merely estimates, which the attorney general questioned the use of. Furthermore, the time to object in court has passed with not another word from the attorney general.

The last Sandpiper editorial point I’d like to address is the Kilroy development. My council colleagues and I are well aware of the proposed project and we plan to receive a thorough briefing in January. It would be premature to make any comments about the project prior to a detailed disclosure.

Which pretty much sums up my belief in leadership, a quality questioned in the Sandpiper editorial. Effective results are the measure of a leader, not confusing, baseless rhetoric.

That’s the course I’ll be steering for the next year as mayor of Del Mar. And I’ll be keeping both hands on the wheel.

Carl Hilliard, currently mayor of Del Mar, has been on the Del Mar City Council since 2004. He has been Del Mar’s SANDAG representative since 2010. He was elected to represent the North Coastal region on SANDAG’s Planning Committee in 2011 and continues as vice chairman through 2012. He is also the 2012 vice chairman of the California League of Cities, Legislative Committee, a position he has held since 2009. He was elected Commissioner San Diego LAFCO from 2007 through 2011, serving as chairman in 2010 and 2011. From 2007 to 2009, he was a member of the board of directors for the North County Transit District.  

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Prop J | Shores Park | Quiet Zone | Fairgrounds Noise
City Hall Site | Short Term Rentals | Pot | Cosmetic Surgery
Fairgrounds Finanaces | Form-Based Code | Revitalization
Shingles | Balbpoa Property | Recycling | DRB

Dear Editor:

posted 12/23/11

The editor’s note to the "Vital Signs" article (here) points out that a small minority of survey respondents were owners or employees of businesses along Camino Del Mar. This would seem to explain the distribution of responses to the question of two lanes on Del Mar's main thoroughfare. I've spoken to some of these people and it is clear that some were unaware of the survey and all were negative on the idea of only two lanes of traffic. To borrow words from The Economist editorial writers, the idea is "barking mad" from their standpoint. Mine too, as a nearby resident.

Bob Ringland | Caminito Del Canto   

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Dear Editor:

posted 10/29/11

In a park in L.A.
Photo Rick Ehrenfeld

How many of us have returned to Del Mar after a weekend in Los Angeles, and reflected on why we live here – and not there!!! I actually had the opposite reaction the other day.... yes, I thought, “If this was LA, the problem would be solved.” My family and I spent an afternoon in the Silverlake Meadow Park, in the Silverlake neighborhood of LA. The park was “barefoot friendly.” Babies played on the grass, toddlers and adults ran playfully and barefoot on the grass.

Upon our return to Del Mar, we walked through Seagrove Park, and found ourselves affronted by the droppings of inconsiderate dogs (not sure if I should include the dog owners?) Would I want to watch a toddler playing on the grass, knowing that, even if a dog owner had picked up after their beloved puppy (which was not the case on this particular afternoon), there might be a residual mess?
It is time for Del Mar to step up and create barefoot friendly parks, for the health and safety of all residents and visitors to our town.

Rick Ehrenfeld, 10th Street   

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Dear Editor:

posted 10/29/11

The Del Mar Quiet Zone Committee members are very happy to announce that they have raised $173,000 in written pledges toward their goal of $378,000, the amount needed to install a Wayside Horn at the Coast Boulevard railroad intersection. Once installed, this stationary horn system will replace the need for trains to sound their horns as they pass through Del Mar. However, they will still sound the horn when the operator senses a need, such as people on or near the tracks, fog or other related weather instances or when they determine a need due to other safety reasons.

The Wayside Horn System for Del Mar has received City Council and North County Transit District approvals and all needed design plans have been completed. All that is now needed is to complete the fundraising and the project will be ready to commence installation. We are asking any resident or business in Del Mar who wants to contribute to visit our website www.delmarquietzone.com to learn more about the project and to print out a pledge form and send it to our Committee. Once we have the total needed, we will call the pledges and remit them to the City of Del Mar so that the project can commence construction. This is a community public project so it qualifies as a deductible charitable contribution but we advise all contributors to check with their tax advisors prior to making a pledge. We would appreciate contributions regardless of size. It will take all of us to make this worthy project a reality. Remember, Silence is Golden.

Hershell Price, Chair Del Mar Quiet Zone Committee  

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Dear Editor:

posted 08/23/11

One Saturday evening this summer, my family is sitting around the kitchen counter eating dinner when we hear some very loud, somewhat muddled music blasting through our open windows.

At first, I thought it was a neighbor throwing a raging party, and then I thought it was coming from the Plaza or perhaps a concert in the park. My oldest son deduced that it was the band Weezer—one of his favorites—and we all realized that a band of this popularity could only be playing at the fairgrounds, but it wasn’t Friday night? It was a Saturday.

We hopped in our golf cart to investigate and ended up at the cul-de-sac at the top of Serpentine. Sure enough, Weezer was playing at the fairgrounds and we were all singing along from the cheap seats.

Soon enough other neighbors began showing up to see what was going on too. One couple heard the music all the way from their home at 9th and Hoska!
I’m all for pork and beans—a Weezer hit—but can they turn it down a notch?

Yours in decibel reduction, Piper Underwood, Rimini Road   

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Dear Editor:

posted 08/23/11

As long-time Del Mar residents who have the good fortune of living at the northern end of the town, on the hill where views are good and the neighborhood tranquil, we have been – almost literally – stunned by the noise levels of the amplified entertainment at the Fairgrounds this year. Beginning on Friday afternoon, July 29, the roar of amplifiers on steroids shattered the day and the evening calm. It went on for a long time. Saturday afternoon brought more of the same as did the evening.

When I called the Sheriff’s phone number, as listed for Del Mar issues, I was told, and very politely, I should say, that the Fairground activities were “permitted activity.” “Surely,” I said, “any permission is granted with boundary conditions?”
The officer said that she could ask a patrolman to call us, but that it was probable he would say the same thing: the activity has been permitted.

Now, I was not objecting to the idea that entertainment is a reasonable part of the Fairground’s activity. No, it is rather the completely unnecessary (and one would venture, unhealthy) sound pressure level of the electronically amplified music that is intolerable. It is simply not necessary for the ground to shake and spectators to endure ear-blistering loudness levels for an audience to be satisfied. It is clear that no one is monitoring event amplification, and there are, or certainly should be, limits on what is allowable.

During the periods indicated above, with our windows closed, the Fairground sound interrupted and made unpleasant even the watching of evening television programs.
It is my strong suggestion and hope that the Fairgrounds management can be induced by persuasion or penalties to mend its ways for its Del Mar neighbors. Enjoying the horses – or music, for that matter– simply does not require such unreasonable playback levels. Any competent technician can devise playback strategies that will serve a playback venue without impacting those who have (or want to have) other things on their minds and in their ears.

If noise matters to you, make your concerns known. The appropriate contact for 22nd District Agricultural Association (DAA) is: Tim Fennell, CEO, Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar, California 92014-2216. Phone: (858) 755-1161.

Also: City of Del Mar Code Enforcement, Patty Malik: (858) 755-9313, ext. 171 and code@delmar.ca.us

Roger Reynolds, Serpentine Drive     

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Dear Editor:

posted 07/12/11

I certainly agree with Sam Borgese’s comments that now is the time to move on to implementation, not more studies.  The City has shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars on planning reports that have created stacks of paperwork many feet high. But, for the most part, if at all, we have never moved on to the implementation stage, mostly due to “lack of funds”.  If we want to get visitors and residents moving up and down Camino Del Mar from one end of the commercial district to the other, why not pull out those Streetscape plans and pick a project to make it happen.  An excellent example of a project we did implement quickly was the Sidewalk Café ordinance.  More of that kind of action, please.  It saved many of our restaurants and increased the city’s tax revenue.

There are planned upcoming meetings to once again begin a search to the ultimate answer to just what the downtown commercial area should become as we move forward.  The City Council will, in the near future and after hearings at the Planning Commission level, begin to analyze just what should go into a future Specific Plan and how it should be implemented over time.  This will take money, lots of Staff time and also an environmental impact report before it would be ready for approval by the City Council.  After that, it will have to meet the expectations of our residents by a vote of the people, probably sometime in the next two years or so.  If it is not approved by a majority of our voting public, it will fail and all of the work will be lost, just like the undergrounding district vote did.  Let’s hope we get it right this time!

Hershell Price, Grand Avenue 

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To the Editors:

posted 07/06/11


Congratulations on yet another great edition of the Sandpiper. You consistently put out a quality journal, with well-written, accurate and timely articles. The July edition sets the bar even higher. I loved the Garbage Day poem interspersed with the news.

I used to cite the [Martha’s] Vineyard Gazette as the finest local paper I’d ever seen (it helped that it was published by the Reston family of the New York Times fame), but now I consider the Sandpiper the absolute tops. By the way, the Gazette recently sold for $2 million so I’ll watch for a Sandpiper IPO! 

Adam Birnbaum, Del Mar Planning Manager

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To whom it may concern:

posted 07/01/11

We should not rush into building a new city hall while in the next few years the post office building will be available, a perfect location.

The Gov. makes moves to close offices to save money. The Del Mar office is a candidate to close. Should we wait?

It is on the list.

Marcel Van Boxtel, Luneta Drive 

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Sandpiper Editors:

posted 07/01/11

This was to have been a “letter to the editor” which one of my neighbors begged me to send after a lengthy interview. At the last minute she reneged concerned that her neighbors would think her too harsh. But this is the gist of it all.

She, like some others, feels that with the arrival of summer they are confronted with the clamor, din, and roar of what seems to be “unending noise.” Often the noise is attributed to Del Mar residents who vacate in the summer, retreat to their favorite vacation place and rent their house.

She feels that it is impossible to escape the noise, since she is “locked-in” by the massive Fair and racetrack traffic.

What might be done? Well, I noted that we have a noise ordinance to control the worst of those she might categorize as “culprits”--those who seem unaware of their contribution to the “noise factor.” One would hope that there is always the route of personal contact-“talking to the neighbors.”

The conclusion she and others have reached is that some visitors find themselves paying what they conclude is an exorbitant summer rent, so they should feel free to vacation as they please.
As a former city planner my diagnosis is that some individuals think the “Del Mar Village” should be quiet and bucolic as the countryside. However, the “village” is quickly evolving as a “city” -- with it its urbanity and urban life, noisy at time and increasingly diverse!

Anthony Corso, a Sandpiper Editor 

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To whom it may concern:

posted 05/09/11

The following comments are not about Pot.  They're about the reckless use of computer technology in the name of creativity.

In the current issue of the Sandpiper is an article entitled; Let's be Pot Smart

Retouching a marijuana leaf over the City of Del Mar logo not only implies City wide acceptance of pot but also encourages future "creative" defacement of the monument.

Cardiff spends numerous dollars monthly cleaning a defaced City sculpture. Del Mar has been lucky.

As the designer of the Del Mar logo and the monument, I  would like to see more subjective scrutiny of photo material in your publication. "Clever" can be destructive, let's not promote it.

David Arnold, designer of the Del Mar Logo and Monument, Ocean View Avenue 

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Dear Sandpiper Editor,

posted 04/30/11

I am requesting the “Sandpiper” alter the letter I sent to you [ on April 8, 2011 ] for publication. The proposed site plan now shows the elevation difference between Starbucks and our clinic to be 16-18” (not 18”) and the height of the fence between these properties is proposed for 2 feet (not 3.5 feet).

Dr. Paul Chasan, Surgery Center, April 25, 2011

Original letter sent on April 8, posted on April 9 

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Dear Sir or Madam,

posted 04/09/11

My intent in the upcoming city council meeting is not to detract from the sense of place or pedestrian flow. It is simply a liability issue. There is an 18” grade difference between the two properties. We have already seen a number of falls on the property that were much less hazardous. I wanted to put a 3 ½ foot high decorative fence along the areas of grade discrepancy. As far as the size of the seating area and number of seats that was considerably restricted because we had to sprinkler the building. The placement of the backflow device for the sprinklers was mandated by city and state code. It was a big disappointment to me as well. In the future, I would appreciate your staff contacting me first and getting the full story before putting alarming and misinformed public notices in the local press.

Dr. Paul Chasan, Surgery Center 

Sandpiper notice about the surgery center  sent on April 7, 2011

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Sandpiper Editors:

posted 03/27/11

Read your article “ASSEMBLYMAN GARRICK’S FAIRGROUND SURVEY DISCREDITED BY EXPERT” with interest. I’m shocked to hear that a politician is being deceptive!
Here is what we have right now:

  • 1) An Assemblyman (Garrick) being deceptive to further his position.
  • 2) A City council (Del Mar) that is being secretive and evasive about information and questions to further their position.
  • 3) A Fairboard (22nd DAA) that is deceptive and distorting the facts to futher their position.
  • 4) Two government entities (Del Mar City Council and 22nd DAA Fairboard) that are using taxpayer money to lobby legislators and citizens.
  • 5) A publication (the Sandpiper) that publishes articles exceeding it’s own editorial standards (400 words) when the articles further their own position and want to limit articles that are against their position.
  • 6) A state government that is ... well ... just plain incompetent and fiscally reckless.

Just business as usual in the rough and tumble world of politics and the press.
What’s a citizen to do? Unfortunately, spend the time to understand the issues and keep asking the questions (be an informed citizen). A good place to start is the 22nd DAA audited financial statements (which the Sandpiper has refused to make available to it’s readers .... why?).

Let the games continue!

Preston Vorlicek, Cuchara Drive 

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posted 03/06/11

It was noted in a recent news article that our new Planning Director was gearing up to proceed with the possible change to Form Based Code zoning for the revitalization of the Del Mar commercial district.

Why are we wasting so much time and money to revitalize the downtown area, when it can be done sooner and at a lot less expense by just increasing the Floor Area Ratio from the very limiting 45% up to 90-100%?  After all, the FAR for all adjacent cities is approx. 100%, and a Form Based Code would also include an increased FAR.

That doesn't mean all commercial buildings would suddenly double in size, because a lot of them already are about 100%.  But, those that would have the incentive to double in size would have to provide the required parking, which many do not now provide.

Why don't we request the City Council to have a discussion now about just increasing the Floor Area Ratio to more quickly revitalize downtown?

Ralph Peck, 11th St 

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Dear Editor,

posted 03/06/11

Thank you for the journal. I always enjoy reading it. It's neat and nicely done.

Very nice article KindleNook by Virginia Lawrence.

I wish she would buy a new iPad and continue writing about her e-reading experience.

I also read with high interest Olde Del Mar Revisited.

Julia Ponomarenko, Stratford Court 

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Dear Editors:

posted 02/25/11

Nice article in the Sandpiper about roofs. However, the photo shown is a composite roof that was installed a year ago or so - at great expense I’m sure. Was wondering if the Sandpiper might put some sort of notice in their next issue saying this is how great a composite roof can look - or at least apologize to the owners for mistakenly thinking this is a shingle roof. The house belongs to the Engels on 15th Street.

Jill Coughlin, Van Dyke Avenue 

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Mr. Emerson and Mr. Borgese:

posted 02/25/11

I read your "Fair Market Value" article with interest. I wonder if you will have the editorial courage to publish a quick reply? Here goes:

"Your statement that "The only valid way to determine value is by using a multiplier of cash flow" is FLAT OUT WRONG. The only true way to determine the value of an asset like this (with no real comparisons available) is to determine what somebody is willing to pay for the asset. How to do this? Very simple, an auction. It's done every day with thousands of properties, companies and other assets around the world (remember the Balboa property?).

Discounted (or multiplier) cash flow analysis can be a very deceiving number in a capital intensive business (where you have lots of depreciation expenses). For example: if you look at an airline company, remove all capital expenditures and depreciation expenses, the business looks great! Add in capital expenses and depreciation and "voila" things don't look so good.

A more common valuation method for a businesses is a price to earning ratio for the specific industry. Just take a look at your Wall Street Journal!

If you have any questions about the above, just let me know.

If the State of California was doing their job, they would auction the property off ... then NO ONE could have any complaints about the valuation. I'd be willing to bet you that the property (with restrictions) would sell for less than $50 Million (assuming the new owner would have to pay property taxes and have all the restrictions that are being discussed). Remove the restrictions ... and I'll bet you the property would sell for more than $250 Million. Consider the $200 Million gap a "rape of the taxpayers".

Which brings me to how the City overpaid for the Shores property. With the restrictions (zoned Public Facilities), the property was essentially worthless. If it went to auction, I doubt if it would have brought any bids at all ... and the City could have picked it up for next to nothing (certainly less than half what they paid). Instead, the City Council, (IMHO) is acting like my kids with $5 burning a hole in their pocket, said ... "must buy, must buy, must buy".

Seems to me like the council has already made up their mind ("must buy, must buy, must buy") ... so any real debate or discussion is a waste of time (IMHO). I suspect in 10 or 15 years we will be selling off parts of the Shores property (without restrictions) to pay for "investments or bailouts" in the Fairgrounds."

Mr. Emerson and Borgese: what say you ... do you have the courage to publish my reply to your article?

Best Regards,

Preston Vorlicek, Cuchara Drive 

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Dear Editors:

posted 02/11/11

Getting to Zero by Dan Nore was a very nice article about “Zero Waste."  I whole heartedly support Del Mar’s efforts to reduce waste.

Also, I appreciate the input about the Fairgrounds, however, the picture of the paper bin has “trash” underneath it.  Just to clarify, it is really a picture of our mixed paper collection bin we send to be recycled.  We source separate about 30 materials and value them as recyclables or compostables.  I can see how it may have been interpreted as “trash” according to the power point attached to the article.  It was talking about using the same equipment for recycling as we did for trash.  Just thought you would want to know we do not put that valued material in the landfill.

Nancy Strauss, Resource Conservation Coordinator, Del Mar Fairgrounds 

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Sandpiper Editors:

posted 01/29/11

Wednesday night was my last DRB meeting. There was nothing extraordinary about that. My term was over. It was also Wally Papciak's last meeting. Unfortunately, Wally was home ill and couldn't attend.  

What was extraordinary was that a Council member, Lee Haydu, took her time to come to that meeting to say farewell to the two of us and to thank us for our service. Of course I could be wrong, but in all the years that I have followed DRB proceedings I have never seen that happen before. It was truly gratifying to have a Council member  publicly recognize the value of and show appreciation for the work done by Del Mar volunteers. We are lucky to have Lee on the City Council. She has set an excellent precedent in community relations.

Brooke Eisenberg-Pike, Hoska Drive 

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Fairgrounds Finances | Zoning Codes | Fairgrounds Control
Fairgrounds Ownership | School Board | DMUSD | Revitalization
Smashburger Venting Duct | DM pensions | Form-Based Code
the Plaza | Tourists | Short Term Rentals | Prop J | Train Stop | the Charrette
Flower Hill | TOT | Andrews Lot | Pickens Suit | Undergrounding
San Dieguito River Greenbelt | Grants | San Dieguito River JPA


posted 12/20/10

"An Inconvenient Truth: The Fairgrounds Loses Money!

I’m surprised that no one in the press or City Council has mentioned that the 22nd DAA (Fairgrounds) has been losing money for the past 3 years. The information is publicly available (at City Hall) in the audited financial statements for the 22nd DAA.   And the financial picture will only worsen when Del Mar borrows $70 to $80 Million to finance the purchase! We have the information, but no specific answers from the City Council as to how they will turn around this money losing operation."

Preston Vorlicek, Cuchara Drive 

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Sandpiper Editors:

posted 12/10/10

The City of Del Mar violated its own zoning codes and the Community Plan regarding abatement of nonconformities, public views, privacy issues, and open space, by granting a huge variance to a new (not a remodel) ~ 5800 square feet residential development across the street from us.

Originally, we had view issues (the plan partially blocked the community and a section of a white water views from our primary living area). Public views will also be blocked. Moreover, the current old house being so close to the street, impacts our privacy and possibly walkers’ privacy (several windows look out on the street), and also creates parking issues due to the narrowness of the street. We had hoped that any new development would follow the required front yard setbacks. The houses on the north and the south side are located within the front yard setbacks.

The new development (with numerous windows facing the street) will not only stay within the current old house front yard setback (9 to 10 feet from the property line, in violation to the zoning codes), but will also extend the non conformity further north!

The city planners decided that the slope was too steep to build on, so it supported a variance to allow the new development–approximately 65 feet in length– to be built 9 to 10 feet from its property line instead of the required 20 feet.

However, the proposed plans already include digging into the slope for a large basement (~2200 square feet), and building a section of the house, a large deck, and a swimming pool on the supposedly ‘steep’ slopes. A couple of architects (one of them from Del Mar) and a structural engineer looked at the slope, the proposed plans, and the geotechnical reports, and determined that the slopes were not too steep for building. Moreover, the slope is not located in the protected Bluff, Slope, and Canyon Overlay Zone.

The City refused to consider the alternate designs that would have moved the house just a few feet (3-5 feet) down the slope to stay within the required front yard setback. What makes this situation shameful is that the very same people whom we have elected, and whose job is to uphold the law and protect every resident’s rights objectively, chose to listen to the city planners’ wrong conclusions, and completely ignored our appeals, twice!

We are also puzzled by the application process, which went through the Design Review Board (DRB) first instead of the Planning Commission. Why did the city planners push for the variance? One begins to wonder if the switch in the process was a deceptive way for assuring the granting of the variance, to spare the applicant from going back to the DRB and thus avoid extra City expenses. We strongly believe that the granting of this variance jeopardized the Community Plan. In addition, it seems to us that objectivity and fairness toward Del Mar residents is NOT how the City conducts its business nowadays. We conclude that the Community Plan advocates no longer have a strong voice in City Hall. The extremists among property rights owners have taken over.

In conclusion, we would like to know– did the Sandpiper newsletter change its purpose? Where are the Community Plan advocates? Why no one was at City Hall meetings objecting the process and ruling? We’re baffled by the silence.

Steve and Lucy Eskeland, Seaview Ave 

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posted 11/17/10

Del Mar and its neighbors are in the process of trying to get the best possible piece of the pie - i.e. - control of the Del Mar Fairgrounds, as offered by the State. 

Is the deal proposed to date good, or bad?  And for whom?

One thing that has not been mentioned much is the "control" over the land - i.e. - the Zoning.  Zoning would surely be in the hands of Del Mar, since it would be within the City boundaries, and no longer a State facility.  BUT, nothing is said in the General Plan about that 20% of the Del Mar area.

Having followed the City Zoning practices since the beginning of the City in 1959, I’m not sure I would look forward to the Republic of Del Mar having Zoning authority over that 20% of Del Mar, without having some guidance from the required General Plan.

The 5 member City Council and their constituents are salivating over what they would like to see in that 20%, but is that what you want?  Do you know what that is?  Before the deal is done, shouldn’t we have some discussion as to applying the General Plan to that 20% of the City?

Ralph Peck, 11th St 

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Dear Editors:

posted 11/17/10

Arguments against Del Mar obtaining control of the fairgrounds fall into two categories: Those from individuals enjoying a privileged existence within the existing power structure (who feel justifiably threatened by more-critical supervision), and those who just don't believe in public ownership of anything (think healthcare). Oh, plus such oddballs as our local Assemblyman, Martin Garrick (R), who automatically puts party loyalty above any thought of responsibility for the good of his constituents.

We are fully justified in ignoring their arguments. The idea that Del Mar is (a) too small, and (b) too poor to be able to oversee operations at the fairgrounds is absurd on its face, and insulting to boot. The expertise available within our community is perfectly capable of tackling jobs far more demanding than those presented by a facility that may seem substantial to an individual home-owner, but is really quite a modest part of the state's portfolio. Plus, if the fairgrounds are in fact as profitable as those who claim that its value is far greater than the $120M negotiated between Del Mar and the state maintain, then any possible shortcomings in local expertise could be easily met by the city hiring a few specialists.

Nonetheless, ownership of the fairgrounds by the city would entail responsibilities for our community beyond the mere provision of investment in financial resources. In particular, in our dealings with the fairgrounds over the years, we have found that the fairgrounds staff represent a substantial potential resource for our community, both professionally capable and highly cooperative. As a community, we would be well advised to proffer to the fairgrounds staff a guarantee that our takeover of the management of the facility would in no way jeopardize their job security or their path to advancement.

Carol and John Kerridge, El Amigo Road 

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posted 11/14/10

I support the City¹s effort to purchase the Fairgrounds property for the following reasons.

1. The purpose of the Fairgrounds should be to celebrate the agricultural heritage of San Diego County, provide an incomparable destination for horse activities (both Thoroughbred and equestrian) and serve as the western anchor for the Coast to Crest trail.

2. Governance by the City would allow appropriate development of the property while remaining sensitive to surrounding communities and wetlands.

3. The published price seems fair given the restrictions on the property.

4. The City can borrow the necessary funds at historically low rates.

5. If the Fairgrounds, as reported, generates almost $100m in revenue then it should be easy to generate cash required for debt service, maintenance, and future development.

6. It is reasonable to believe that board members appointed by our City Council would be at least as competent as those appointed by the Governor.

7.  Acquisition would provide opportunities for synergy and cost savings, such as combining public works.

8. This is a positive transaction for the City, the region, and the San Dieguito River Park.  I heartily endorse pursuing the opportunity.

Joe Sullivan, Ocean Front 

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posted 10/27/10

I am sorry that Sherryl Parks' article on the School Board race did not mention that Steve McDowell is the only candidate who lives in the City of Del Mar. Steve is a skilled financial analyst who appreciates the value of neighborhood schools. I am confident of his judgment when the the time comes for the Board to face the perennial issue of closing one of our schools.

Joe Sullivan, Ocean Front 

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Dear Editor,

posted 10/26/10

I support Del Mar’s proposed acquisition of the Del Mar Fairgrounds as does County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, the San Dieguito River Park Conservancy and many local civic leaders and environmental groups.  This is Del Mar’s once-in-a- lifetime opportunity to help the state solve its budget woes, preserve the mission of the Fairgrounds and better align its governance with our community.

Although the Fairgrounds is in the city of Del Mar and constitutes 20% of our city’s entire land area, we have no jurisdiction since it is an exempt state agency.  We have no recourse as they have raised the rent on our small fire station from $1 to $90,000 with annual 10% increases so that it will be over $340,000 within 15 years in 2025! The acquisition of the Fairgrounds will result in immediate cost savings and increased efficiencies.   The Del Mar Fair will continue, the current Fairgrounds operators will professionally manage operations, and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club will host our nationally renowned horse racing events.  Financial backing from horse owners will increase the vitality of the Del Mar racetrack and other equestrian events and make it the anchor for the revitalization of the California horse racing industry.   

This is a lot more in keeping with the mission of the Fairgrounds for agricultural purposes than noisy monster truck shows, proposed monstrous commercial development on fragile wetlands and as a venue to attract drunken (or stoned) revelers who endanger our community every time they get behind the wheel of a car.  This will be an even bigger issue if the state proposition legalizing marijuana passes.

Laura DeMarco, Avenida Primavera 

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Dear Editor:

posted 10/26/10

Del Mar Schools Rock!

Del Mar Union School District can be proud of our great API test scores.   We did great.  API scores are scores assigned by the State of California Department of Education based on school demographics and the scores our students earn on the spring standardized test (commonly called the STAR test by parents).   The state “requires” all schools to score 800 (out of 1000) as “passing” and our schools  all scored over 900 (923-983 to be exact).

We should be proud of our great schools, because they show how well our district is fulfilling its duty to educate students.  This is especially true because we do not “teach to the test”.  We offer a full education with arts, science, technology, core academics, character building and physical activity.  We teach in diverse manners that are able to reach our diverse learners.  I know this both as a school board member and as a parent of a student in our district!.

When things go right, it is time to congratulate everyone in the school community who shares this pride – from our students and parents, to school staff including teachers, district administration on up to the school board.  All together we continue to shine and I am not afraid to say I am proud of our test scores in Del Mar.

Katherine White | Ninth Street, DMUSD parent and school board trustee 

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Dear Editor:

posted 10/17/10

Del Mar Mayor Richard Earnest was quoted in a local paper this week saying "I'm not sure anybody would want to spend time looking at it [purchase of the fairgrounds] one way or the other.  They elected people to make decisions, let us make decisions.  That's what representative government is supposed to be."
He is right about representative government, but totally wrong about making major decisions without knowing how to represent the people without finding out what the majority want through a vote!
That is one of the flaws of the Del Mar City Council - making major decisions without asking the people what the majority want.  That's what they did, and are doing with the Shores Property purchase, sale of the Balboa Lot to payoff the Shores Note and major remodel of the Lifeguard Complex.
I'm glad Mr. Earnest is not running for re-election, and hope the 2 new Council Members have a different view of "representative government".

Ralph Peck,  11th Street  

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Dear Sandpiper Editors:

posted 10/04/10

Responding to:  REEE Vitalization by Rich Simons.

Seems that Rich Simons was so busy writing as to how ugly and dirty our little town was when he came to Del Mar in 1970 he forgot to check and make sure that the locations of the gas-station, the so-called trailer (never there) and the gas-tanks were correct.  ALL WRONG!  As for the pool-tables they played a big part in Del Mar's history during WWII. If I had come to such a place, with one gas station left, I would have filled my car's gas tank and left. To me it is very important that when people read about Del Mar the information is correct.

Tensia Moriel Trejo, Cuchara Drive 

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Sandpiper Editors:

posted 09/29/10

I do not know if you have noticed but the venting duct project for Smashburger has been completed and it turned out very well. No one would ever know that it was not part of the original plan when the Plaza was first constructed. A job well done and kudos to all.

Hershell Price, Grand Avenue 

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Dear Editor:

posted 09/29/10

I have to agree with Mark Kafka regarding the charge to apartment complexes in Del Mar for recycling services. Why should residents of apartments be treated any differently from any other residents of our community. The monthly charge will now be $15 per container per month for once-a-week service. At our complex it takes six containers to service recycling by the residents. That is an additional $1,080 per year that will have to be absorbed or the service will have to be terminated. For some reason, apartment complexes are considered “Commercial” rather than “Residential,” even though they are clearly residences. Why is that? The saving grace is that the new contract can be renegotiated after one year. I wonder if any terms and conditions will change? By the way, the contract allows Waste Management to terminate its recycling center on San Dieguito Drive. It will soon be gone, if not already. So sad! Oh, well, Carlsbad is not that far away.

Hershell Price, Grand Avenue

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posted 09/02/10

Burning the candle at both ends can have potentially disastrous results if one does not pay close attention to one's actions.  Recently, with many distractions, I had occasion to forget my purse after eating lunch at Stratford Court Café and did not miss it for at least 5 hours, when the restaurant had already closed for the day.  Precautions were taken in reporting the loss to banks and credit card companies "just in case" and then the matter had to be turned over to a higher power for the night.  First thing the next morning, I felt relief like I had never known when I stopped by the restaurant to see if my purse might, by some rare chance, have been turned in by someone….it had!  All contents, including a digital camera, cell phone, cash and bank cards, were returned intact.  How rare is that in these challenging financial times?  My sincere thanks to owners, Greg and Teri, and their honest dedicated staff.  I am forever indebted, and a lifetime customer as a result.

Heather Glenn, Oceanside 

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To the Editor and the Public,

posted 09/29/10

I did not select the headline for the article I wrote about the lack of review of the venting ducts on the wall of the Plaza.   

The headline is misleading and in no way represents my opinion of the restaurant. The headline might lead one to believe that I was criticizing Smashburgers. My article clearly states that the lack of noticing and review was a result of the City's decision to circumvent our review process.

My husband and I ate at Smashburgers Friday evening and truly enjoyed our burgers and the wonderful family ambience of the restaurant. We give it an enthusiastic two thumbs up.


Brooke Eisenberg-Pike, Hoska Drive 

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Dear editors,

posted 09/29/10

I enjoy your publication and the sense of community it gives Del Mar.  I'm not sure if you've already published or plan to publish on the subject, but I recently learned that the City of Del Mar has approved trash companies to begin charging for commercial recycling services.  Please see the attached letter from Waste Management.

I find it ironic that the City claims to have "green goals" (as Waste Management put it in their letter) yet appears to have deregulated trash collection.  The obvious effect, as evidenced in my situation, is that homeowners will often be unwilling to pay more to recycle.  My HOA has tentatively stopped recycling because of the new charges.  That's a shame, and I'm lobbying to reverse the decision, but if the City was truly interested in promoting recycling they'd be less inclined to give up some of their power to promote it.


Mark Kafka, Camino Del Mar 

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Dear Editors,

posted 09/28/10

We just came back from vacation and were up at Starbucks and saw this huge vent snaking along the wall of the south side of the Plaza. How could this major alteration be permitted with no design review input? I cannot imagine this happening if a homeowner made a similar change to his or her property. Why is such a massive vent required for hamburger cooking?
Thank you.

Pam Slater-Price, Grand Avenue 

Editor’s note: See article by Brooke Eisenberg-Pike

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Dear Sandpiper,

posted 09/28/10

Recyling Must Go On

FYI: Recycling center set to close this Friday, Aug 14th. No local newspaper has told the story!

Comment: I am very unhappy that the council has decided to OK the closing of a city “Land Mark”! We are pioneers in our area with setting an example of being good citizens that care about our environment! My extended family and long-time neighbors have been using the site because it takes unusual items: batteries, odd metals, electronics, tvs, computers, etc. It would be a crime against our local devout recyclers to deny a local site to deposit their good citizens efforts for the goodness of our earth. At many of my visits I see local restaurant employees (such as Toni Jacal’s of Solana Beach) bring loads of bottles/cans into the plant. As for the donations, funds may go for the restaurant or reward money to an off-duty employee who promoted recycling! Going to Carlsbad is not a motivation. It’s a negative for encouraging recycling!

Please look into saving the plant on Jimmy Durante! A way to reward nominally recyclers for their good deeds. Teaching those who do the right thing by recycling, as many regular items go beyond into items such as news papers, cardboard, cans, plastic and glass.

Observation: I gave up curb recycling long ago!
reason #1 I pay the trash company to take it away and I did not get any cash back for items that the center would pay for!

reason #2 Many an early morning on trash day I would see gleaners come up the street and take the recycles for their own profit. I know 100% of their taking ended up recycled. It took the good well-done effort feeling out of the task! Why should I go to the effort of saving up for Friday’s trash when someone else gets here just before the trash man and gets all the gold?

I love to recycle in DM. It must go on!

Ann Stegman Ray, 9th Street 

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Dear Editors,

posted 07/16/10

As one of many who support Design Review Board approval and a City-wide vote on Form-Based Code and any other major changes to Del Mar's planning process, I applaud you for your emphasis on "revitalization" and the DRB's role.  I especially appreciate your survey and the related June follow-up articles and illustration which, by pointing out the difference of opinion between Del Mar voters and others who responded, make important adjustments to the results published initially.  The survey now stands as an early indicator of how voters might cast their ballots when given an opportunity to do so.

Hopefully the City Council has taken note.

Jan McMillan, 12th Street 

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Dear Editors,

posted 07/15/10

Del Mar elections are coming – quality candidates needed

The November elections can be a very pivotal election for Del Martians.  The city is running on financial fumes and there ARE solutions to make our city more fiscally sound.

Candidates that want to take on the beast of ‘bloated pensions and out-of-control back end’ benefits, please step forward. Please run and take a leadership role to stop the bleeding.

Our current council is reluctant to step forward and take a leadership roll to CUT the costs of government.  Cities all over the county are reducing bloated pension programs, re-defining retirement contributions, and cutting the costs of government.

Pension reforms have occurred in Solana Beach and Carlsbad. Silence in Del Mar.  Escondido has reduced the fire department back end costs. Silence in Del Mar.

Our sheriff’s contract is completely out of control. Employee benefits run amuck. Did you know that Sheriffs even get their birthday off as a paid holiday? And our current council reaction- silence.

The City of Del Mar’s pension cost in 2003 was just over $300,000. In 2009 it is over $900,000. How come? 

Please, if you want to cut $100,000’s of waste, please consider running for our city council.  AND, then be proactive and step forward to take a leadership role.  Our city will greatly benefit from this type of leadership.

Jim Benedict, Christie Lane     

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Dear Editors,

posted 07/02/10

The results of the Sandpiper's survey to its readers on Del Mar's revitalization plans (Sandpiper, June 2010) has the potential of being seriously misleading.

Four full pages are devoted to a report on the survey's results. For instance, according to the article "Your Opinion Counted" nearly 50% of the survey respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that "Parking structure should be added downtown."

Similarly, well over 50% of the survey respondents presumably answered in the affirmative the question "Would you favor increasing the allowable height of buildings along the west side of Camino Del Mar?"

In fact, it would seem pretty clear that the very limited responses received to the Sandpiper survey, renders it nearly meaningless. As reported in the main article (p.8) there were only 155 responses to the survey. Del Mar is estimated to currently have approximately 4,300 residents (presumably a decrease from the 4,900 reported in the 2000 Census). In other words, less than 3% of Del Mar residents responded to the survey, which brings into question whether the results were in fact worth reporting.

Moreover, the article reports that of the total number responses, 16%
(25 of responses) were from business owners who obviously have their own priorities and not necessarily those of the public at large.

There is undoubtedly value to informal surveys of resident opinion of
matters of community interest. However, unless such surveys cover
either a significant number of residents or are conducted using standardized sampling techniques, they are likely to be essentially meaningless.

As long time readers and contributors to the Sandpiper, we're confident that your publication did not intend to mislead readers and thereby advance a particular political agenda. Nevertheless, there is a real danger that by reporting on a survey as presumably representing resident preferences (where in fact the survey only represents a minuscule fraction of resident opinion) the community and members of the City Council may be misled.

Ralph Reisner, Surf View    

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Editor's note:  

Editor's note:  Click here for an article analyzing resident vs. non-resident opinions in the Sandpiper survey


posted 06/15/10

I watched the Del Mar Council meeting on TV last night, and what I heard was not quiet approvals, but emphatic disapproval of a proposed Form Based Code. 

Full Design Review Board process is what is wanted (control), but is not what the FBC is really all about.  A real FBC is a VERY DETAILED expression (in words and pictures) of what the "community" wants the downtown to look like - so detailed that a developer can read and look at it and propose something that should pass approval of a planning director for having met those details.  That is what FBC is supposed to do, and Del Mar can't let that happen!

Therefore, because of that issue, plus parking requirements, development benefits required, lack of City financial participation and basic economics, we will have spent a lot of time, money and frustration for another plan to put on the shelf!  If this is not true, please explain why.


Ralph Peck, 11th St   

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Dear Sandpiper Editors,

posted 06/13/10

[with reference to the FBC presentation to the Council on June 14]

Not only do I believe there should be a vote prior to any City Council implementing action but that vote should PRECEDE an expensive EIR by the City.  The most recent wasteful expenditure of >$311,000 for utility undergrounding prior to a vote is a perfect example of this City's unfortunate budgeting practices,  and that is a major reason why voters have had enough with the Council's pleas for more taxes. If you add together all the studies and consultants over the past 12 years it is a huge number. Most of the proposals failed to come to fruition. And this city has the dubious distinction of having the highest staff : resident ratio in the state.  Therefore, prior to spending even more money on Form Based Codes, the citizens must be consulted as to their support.

Pam Slater-Price, Grand Avenue   

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Dear Sandpipers,

posted 06/10/10

The idea that the Del Mar Plaza is suitable for a 'Trader Joe's with a  Del Mar twist' is naive. Parking and access make it hard to think that this savvy chain would consider it for a minute. Continuing the effort to establish a Plaza food market, let alone one offering products at competitive prices, will fail. And food co-ops seldom succeed. Highest, best use of the space is upscale retail, especially restuarants. Why fight it?

Hugh McCandless, Seaforest Court    

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Dear Sandpiper Editors,

posted 06/07/2010

"Form Based Code" Would Destroy Precious Resident Controls 

Back in 1973, when the State first required all cities to have zoning laws, Del Mar's response was unique: 140 citizens worked together to form the Community Plan that has made our town such a sought-after place to live.  It is our most precious asset. And it would be destroyed by the proposed Form Based Code, which would take zoning away from voters and put it in control of un-elected people.

Such a disastrous change is not needed. Residents could support some changes under our present system--see responses from readers in the June Sandpiper. 

SO LET'S POINT THAT OUT TO THE COUNCIL AT ITS JUNE 14 MEETING,  when Form Based Code is on the agenda.

Chuck Newton, Forest Way    

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Sandpiper Editors:

posted 06/06/2010

Short term rentals have become a thriving business in Del Mar.  See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOtEEGf04jI.  Every city along the North County coast, except Del Mar, imposes a TOT on short term rentals. The argument that TOT comes out of the short term rental owner's pocket assumes that the maximum amount the market will bear, including taxes, is being charged to the tourist.  Thus, for example, if a rental in Encinitas costs $20,000 a week including TOT, then the comparable rental in Del Mar should be either lower or the TOT counterpart is going into the owner's pocket.  The argument that short term rental owners already pay property tax that covers the cost of tourist amenities ignores the fact that hotels and motels also pay property taxes.  In placing Prop. J on the ballot for voter approval, the entire council agreed that all tourists in Del Mar should be treated the same way without regard to their choice of lodging. Simply stated: All tourists should pay their fair share of the over $1 million a year it costs to maintain our beaches and parks. 

 Carl Hilliard, Crest Road    

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Sandpiper Editors:

posted 06/05/2010

I was disappointed with the Prop J flyer included in your June issue. Not because I expected the Sandpiper to oppose this new tax, but because of the blatant dishonesty of the graphic. You compare the Del Mar Motel to a multi-unit apartment building, implying that one is subject to TOT and the other is not. That, as you should know, is not the case. All buildings of three units or more are already subject to TOT on short-term rentals.

The purpose of Prop J is to impose an 11.5% tax on residents like me who occasionally rent our homes to visitors. My renters don¹t use any more city services I do. It is unrealistic to think this tax will be paid in addition to market rents --- it will come out of the pockets of the homeowners. I already pay my fair share of property and income taxes.

I don't dispute the need for additional city revenue, particularly to pay for capital improvements such as the beach safety center, the new shores park, and a decent city hall. But it is unfair to lay this burden of double taxation, along with intrusive regulation, on re
sidents who already pay our fair share.

Joe Sullivan, Ocean Front 

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posted 06/03/10

Great issue, all you editors. Thanks for all the effort that goes into it.

Pat JaCoby, Sea View Avenue   

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posted 05/28/2010

There is a fundamental error in Councilman Carl Hilliard’s letter to the editor that there is NO connection between the “temporary train stop” they say they now wish to locate ½ mile south of the entrance statue, behind the businesses on Jimmy Durante Blvd and across the tracks from the neighborhoods on 21st thru 24th Streets; vs. the 25 years-in-the-Fairground master plan Permanent stop at the rear of the fairgrounds, north of the river.

The connections are simple: Timing and money.

The temporary stop could have been built as a “temporary” measure in 2007, but wasn’t. Now it’s time to do the designing and environmental permitting for the Permanent Stop- at the west edge of the Fairgrounds – a spot from which patrons can easily walk to fairground events.

Both projects would be seeking funding from the same source – the Race Track Leasing Commission – who, in effect, gets the money from the operator of the VERY VERY lucrative racing contract at Del Mar. That Commission could also get the construction financing from that same source.

Hilliard adds further confusion by contending they must first build new trestles over the river, ignoring the existing one is about to get a $3.5 million “face lift,” from the NCTD on whose board he sits, to strengthen it. Plus, he knows that until it is decided where the tracks should go south of the river (there are three competing routes) using the existing strengthened trestle makes sense.

When will the politicians stop treating everyone like mushrooms, keeping them in the dark and feeding them manure?

Helen and Richard Nielsen-Eckfield, Caminito Madrigal, Carlsbad   

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Letter to the Editor of the Sandpiper

posted May 11, 2010

Recent potshots at the Fair Board taken by Helen and Richard Eckfield and supported by the Sandpiper are off the mark. The Fair Board has nothing to do with the seasonal train platform, nor with the temporary train platform. The former is a SANDAG project; the latter, an NCTD project. Neither is within the Fair Board’s jurisdiction.

The two platforms are stand-alone issues. Targeting one at the expense of the other makes no sense. The $80 million project, which includes a seasonal train platform, won’t happen for another five to 10 years. Double tracking from Solana Beach to Del Mar has to be in place before the platform can be installed.

As soon as NCTD can erect the temporary train platform, it will be ready to serve our community by reducing traffic congestion, limiting greenhouse gas and helping to alleviate parking problems – all the good things we’ve agreed the seasonal platform will accomplish. Once we have the seasonal platform, the temporary one can easily be moved and used elsewhere.

Yes, it’s true people will have to walk next to the street to get to the Fairgrounds, just as they did when we had the train station. Nothing is cast in concrete yet. When the best proposal is put together, the City Council will invite and welcome community input.

But to oppose the temporary platform in order to increase the pressure to build the seasonal platform doesn’t accomplish anything that’s in the public interest. Why cut off your nose to spite your face?

Carl Hilliard, Del Mar Councilmember & NCTD Boardmember    

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Sandpiper Editors:

posted 05/16/10

The city is about to start the “charrette” process in adopting the new Form Based Code for planning Del Mar’s revitalization.  That means the residents are going to be able to see what it is, and if they like it.  After over a year developing it, they say the new code will make it easier for commercial property owners to redevelop their downtown property.  Personally, I have my doubts.

In case you don’t know, the Form Based Codes are how you implement the new Smart Growth Process, which basically means stopping “sprawl” by “filling in” the developed community.  Now that is really what we need to do in Del Mar.

It means making the downtown area more dense, larger size (resulting in higher buildings along the sidewalks on both sides of Camino Del Mar) so low-cost housing can be provided on the second floors, less required on-site parking (to be offset by satellite parking lots, or garages to be reached by shuttles – HA!) and providing the City with more property tax and sales tax revenue.

I can’t help but believe the latter is the driving force for changing the way we have been doing planning for a long time!  Please participate in the forthcoming “charrette”!

Ralph Peck, 11th St    

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posted May 11, 2010

This months edition of the Sandpiper contained a 2-page article by Form Based Code committeeman, attorney Dwight Worden, listing his view of the impediments to developing such new planning code - closing with his belief that we should have a robust city-wide discussion NOW to get the community's views!  Why didn't we have such robust discussion BEFORE spending over a year of time and money on whether the community even wanted to redevelop downtown, or not?  Certainly, it would be what the City wanted from increased property and sales taxes, but would the residents want such transformation?  

Yesterday's sunday newspaper had a good article in the ARTS section about the redevelopment of the North Park community of San Diego.  That redevelopment was fueled by the Arts, and was so successful, it appears it may be hard to keep it from becoming a restaurant and bar center with many attendant problems with the resident neighbors!

We are about to start the robust discussion of redevelopment of Del Mar, so you might want to check out the redeveloped area of North Park at 30th & University in San Diego. 

Ralph Peck, 11th St    

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posted May 5, 2010

I have a nit to pick with Ann Gardner's very informative piece on the Flower
Hill expansion. It is unfair to compare Gepetto's replacing Thinker Things
to "losing Panniken to a Starbucks." Thinker Things did not go out of
business. The owners chose to relocate to Solana Beach because, they told
me, of the uncertainty of mall redevelopment plans. Gepetto's is also a
locally owned family business. In my experience the merchandise, selection,
pricing, and personal service
are comparable to Thinker Things.

Sincerely, Joe Sullivan , Ocean Front    back to top

Correction posted May 5, 2010

Hershell Price, the author of "Don't Make our Homes Hotels" on page 6 of the May print issue, pointed out that the sign in the photo showed his own rental properties which he says are already covered by TOT. 

The Sandpiper regrets the error.

Correction  April 16, 2010

Editor:  I wrote an article about the Fairgrounds, its Master Plan, and its environmental stewardship for the February 2010 Sandpiper issue entitled "Trust your Eyes not Your Ears."  In that article I referenced that the Master Plan proposes:  "...1 million square feet of new development at the fairgrounds."  This should have said "...1 million square feet of construction of which about 300,000 feet reflects new projects and the balance demolition and rebuilding."

Dwight Worden   <<

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Rupert Relief Fund
May 2010 Issue | Dr. and Mrs. Wadia | Luneta Drive

Detail from Murduck Master Plan 2010. Courtesy Rupert Murduck.

Dear Sandpiper,

Thank you for your front page story on Murduck acquiring the Sandpiper with the great downtown development.

We have started an investment fund for this project, which promises to double your money every twelve months.

All inquiries should be addressed to our treasurer, Mr. Art Olson, c/o The Sandpiper.

Come join our millionaires club!

Dr. and Mrs. Wadia | Luneta Drive     <<

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Slater Slams Split: MEMORANDUM
May 2010 Issue | Pam Slater-Price | Grand Avenue

From: Supervisor Pam Slater-Price
To: San Dieguito River Park JPA

The City of Del Mar Planning Commission considered the Andrews Lot Split at its April 13, 2010 hearing. The Andrews lot is directly west of the Grand Avenue Bridge Overlook and parking area.

The project proposes to subdivide a 2.4-acre single-family residential property into two separate parcels in order to build a second residential unit on the portion of the property closest to San Dieguito Road. The applicant is asking the Coastal Commission to modify the Deed Restricted Open Space Easement on the property required when the first residential unit was constructed.

In addition, the project requires a Conditional Use Permit from the City of Del Mar to allow a reduction in the 100-foot buffer from the wetlands to a 50-foot buffer and to build in a portion of the 10-foot-wide-steep-slope setback required under the City’s Bluff, Slop and Canyon Overlay Zone standards. A portion of the parcel is also located in the flood plain of the San Dieguito River.

The project is being reviewed by Coastal Commission staff. The contact is:

Lee McEachern
California Coastal Commission
(619) 767-2370

This project will have a significant impact on the River Park. I am concerned that the City of Del Mar did not notify the River Park of this potential project within the River Park’s Focused Planning Area. Therefore, I am bringing it to the JPA’s attention and will also notify the California Coastal Commission of this lack of notification.

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Pickens Suit Settled
May 2010 Issue | Bud Emerson, Klish Way

The “Trees and Views” conflict between Madeleine Pickens and Charlie and Lynn Gaylord has been finally resolved. Because that conflict attracted some media attention and represented a significant test of the Trees and Views Ordinance, it is worthwhile to recapitulate what actually happened.

The house now occupied by Ms. Pickens was built by Arthur Nicholas. Nicholas’s original application was opposed by the Gaylords (and other neighbors) on grounds of excessive view blockage. The DRB agreed with the Gaylords’ arguments and required Nicholas to move the western wall of his house a significant distance to the east in order to protect the Gaylords’ view to the south. The DRB further required Nicholas to limit any plantings in the patio area between his house and the beach to less than two feet in height so that they would not obstruct the Gaylords’ view. This requirement is clearly spelled out in the DRB Recommendation but was not further memorialized, e.g., by a deed restriction.
Sometime after occupying his new house, Nicholas began to plant vegetation in his patio that soon exceeded two feet. The Gaylords made several attempts to negotiate with Nicholas in order to reduce the impact on their view but he was not receptive. Eventually, in May 2007, the Gaylords submitted an application to the city under the Trees and Views ordinance. Shortly thereafter, Nicholas sold the property to the Pickens family (for the Del Mar record sum of $35M) and when Madeleine Pickens moved in later in 2007, the Gaylords proposed mediation as a means of resolving the issue. Ms. Pickens failed to attend the mediation session and her lawyer stated that he was not authorized to negotiate on her behalf. The Gaylords then proceeded with their Trees and Views application.

The application was heard by the Planning Commission at their June 2008 meeting. One Commissioner was recused on grounds of financial conflict with one of the parties. The remaining (4) commissioners unanimously found that (a) the Gaylords had suffered unreasonable view blockage by Pickens’ vegetation, and (b) the Gaylords had satisfied the requirements of the Trees and Views ordinance in their attempts at negotiation/mediation.

The Commission then tackled the issue of restorative action by forming a sub-committee to work with the applicants, the appellant and the city on an appropriate course of action. Their recommendations were reported at the July meeting of the Commission and were approved by the Commission as a whole.
It is worth noting that the only argument presented by the appellant to justify the existence of the subject vegetation was in order to provide privacy on the patio. It is also worth noting that this is a patio that (a) abuts onto the public beach, and (b) is overlooked by the second stories of immediate neighbors both to the south and north. The Commission explicitly rejected the argument that the plantings were necessary for providing privacy.

It may be argued that, even with the blockage caused by the Pickens hedge, the Gaylords still enjoy an enviable view. This is perfectly true. But it’s also true that, when they bought their house, the substantial purchase price undoubtedly factored in the extent of that original view. In other words, they paid for that view and while that doesn’t make it an absolute property right, it is certainly reasonable for them to require a reason for reducing it that is much more substantive than a transparently implausible claim of loss of privacy.

Ms. Pickens appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to the City Council. After a public hearing in November 2008, the Council upheld the Commission’s determination and resolved that Ms. Pickens should undertake certain restorative action.

In September 2009, Ms. Pickens filed suit against the City in Superior Court. In March this year, the City and Ms. Pickens agreed to a settlement, Ms. Pickens complied with the restorative action required by the City, and the suit was dismissed.

Our Trees and Views Ordinance has survived its most severe challenge to date.

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Shroom Gloom
May 2010 Issue | Helen and Richard Eckfield, Carlsbad, reported by Bud Emerson

The Fair Board continues to get very critical feedback on its ill-advised master plan. At its April 6 monthly meeting two knowledgeable citizens from Carlsbad, Helen and Richard Eckfield, presented compelling testimony about problems with the recently constructed Arena roof and poorly designed plans for a train stop.

The Eckfields have coined a phrase for the Fair Board’s communication style called “ Mushroom Management--to raise a mushroom you keep it in the dark and feed it steer manure.”

They pointed to the “300 percent cost overrun of the new roof closing from a planned $4 million to now over $15 million as ‘not our fault’...good management is also constructing it so that it does not create new problems...it now blocks not only fans, but the stewards from seeing the start of some of the races.”

As long time advocates of a permanent seasonal train stop, The Eckfields stress that it is very critical now that “we are on the verge of actually adding to the traffic load of the fairgrounds, not just with your plans for the Las Vegas-izing of the fairgrounds turning it into a convention center, but also the pending addition of additional weeks of racing now guaranteed to come to Del Mar from Hollywood Park courtesy of State legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Martin Garrick...building a train stop will be required mitigation of the traffic impact that will result.”

The Eckfields note that the train stop in the north west corner of the fairgrounds “has been in your Master Plan since 1985...that’s 25 years in planning.” Noting that the staff is now proposing instead to implement an inadequate temporary platform near the Southfair development, “ I urge you to now fund the construction design and environmental permitting of the first 600 feet of the Permanent Stop north of the river, built above the 100 year flood plain--from which people can easily walk to fairground events, and to which inebriated concert party goers can easily stagger in order to get a safe ride home.” They urge affected 21-24th street residents and Southfair businesses to ask the City Council for an assessment of the proposed temporary stop impact on their neighborhoods when train loads of fair-goers and other event goers are deposited there.

The Eckfields have long been frustrated trying to get the Fair Board and the staff to give serious consideration to their detailed recommendations.

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Shirts Shorts Out
April 2010 Issue, John Haraden, 11th Street

In the Sandpiper’s March edition, Gary Shirts presents a flawed six-point defense of under-grounding. This article refutes his six points and clarifies his points as ploys for subsidizing under-grounding.

(1) Gary’s self-imposed obligation to under-ground his utilities does not extend to his neighbors. They have private-property rights that protect their properties from Gary’s obligation.

(2) Under-grounding does not provide a safer community. Fire Marshall Bob Scott attaches a low probability to a downed-line-ignited fire. Insurance companies dismiss any enhanced safety by refusing to lower fire-insurance premiums in under-grounded districts. The companies’ actuaries expect no reduction in claims.

(3) Gary only asserts his value judgment that pole removal creates a more attractive community. Other residents may value the poles as bird perches and view pole removal as scattering their winged friends and the morning choir.

(4) Asserting now is the time for pole removal assumes a compelling reason for pole removal. Gary never presents a compelling reason. Beautification, enhanced fire safety, and increased utility reliability remain discredited arguments.

(5) Justifying high under-grounding assessments as compensations for low Proposition 13 assessments only consigns his affluent neighbors to penury. If Gary finds Proposition 13 objectionable, he should confront it directly.

(6) Adopting a problem-solving approach for Del Mar’s less affluent confirms there is no solution for Del Mar’s less affluent. If the entire community cannot fund the Shores’ debt, a few district members cannot fund the less affluent’s under-grounding assessments.

John Haraden, 11th Street

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Thank you, Senator Kehoe!
April 2010 Issue | Payson Stevens, 7th Street


The Fairground Board did not seem very responsive to our concerns at the recent hearings. Senator Christine Kehoe is pushing for legislation to create a San Dieguito River greenbelt.

She needs letters of support so please take the time to send one to her and let your concerned Del Mar and Solana Beach friends know.

We need to ensure our concerns are heard and this enormous expansion project is kept under control.

Below is the one I mailed for ideas and modification to Senator Christine Kehoe.

Payson Stevens, 7th Street

2445 Fifth Avenue, Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92101
Re: Del Mar Fairgrounds Greenbelt

Dear Senator Kehoe:

It is heartening to hear that you are committed to legislation ensuring that there is permanent public access to the area along the San Dieguito River. Like so many Del Mar residents and the Del Mar City Council, my wife and I oppose the current 22nd Agricultural District’s plans as presented in their EIR. The negative impacts on our community are well documented (air quality, traffic, noise, etc.). More importantly the need to mitigate the impacts on the lagoon wildlife and ecosystem are critical as preserving and protecting what is left of San Diego’s fragile, estuarine environments is essential.

As the Fairboard does not seem responsive to our community concerns thank you for taking on this very important issue and making our voices heard.

Sincerely yours,
Your Signature


Delmarvelous Ideas
April 2010 Issue | Maile D'Arcy, Executive Director of the Del Mar Foundation, Van Dyke Avenue

The Del Mar Foundation has a new five year long-term plan, a vibrant outlook for our programs, community events, and grants. The Board’s vision for the Foundation is positive, forward-thinking and ambitious.
One exciting change is the transformation of our community grant process to a more proactive approach. A recent experiment in this effort was the DelMarvelous Ideas insert in your water bill. Thank you to all who submitted their wonderful ideas many of which we will working with in the coming year - stay tuned!
I look forward to working with you and seeing Del Mar benefit from DMF’s programs and grantmaking.

Maile D’Arcy, Executive Director of the Del Mar Foundation, Van Dyke Avenue

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Undergrounding:  Reply to Ralph DeMarco
March 2010 Website | Art Olson, Avenida Primavera

letter from Ralph DeMarco 02/20/2010


To Ralph DeMarco

I was sorry to see your trees uprooted, and happy to see what you are doing to remove other potentially dangerous and precarious eucalyptus trees.  My photos of the fallen tree were meant to illustrate the strength and impact of the storm and not to make a point one way or the other about undergrounding, since that was not the subject of the piece that it accompanied. Moreover,  I would have loved to be at the right place at the right time when other wind damage started two fires.  Unfortunately, as a volunteer photographer who has a full time profession in biomedical research, I cannot chase down spur of the moment events.  However, since cameras and video recorders are practically ubiquitous, I would have thought that someone would have captured these.  That most certainly would have been the case had the fires actually spread into a true conflagration.  Fortunately that was not the case, but if people do happen to be at any such event, I would encourage them to record it, and to send it in to the Sandpiper.

Art Olson, Avenida Primavera

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Undergrounding:  Reply to Anne Farrell
March 2010 website | Art Olson, Avenida Primavera

Letter from Anne Farrell 01/30/2010


To Anne Farrell

I’m glad that you read my article, but perhaps had you read it more carefully you would not have been so disappointed.  Firstly, the article was a report about a meeting that took place January 19 and was written prior to the Sandpiper print deadline of January 20, and prior to the fires that were caused by fallen wires.  More important, the piece reported on a meeting that was not a debate about the merits of undergrounding, but rather an opportunity for those who had just received their assessment notices to ask questions and state their case if they thought there assessment was not fair.  In such a setting one would expect to get a biased view of the undergrounding, since those in favor or happy with their assessment would likely not bother to show up.  Thus my reporting captured the events and opinions expressed.  I do not recall anyone raising the issue of fire safety at that meeting.  As for the accompanying cartoon -- I take full responsibility for its inclusion with the article, and others on the editorial board concurred with that decision.  I felt that while it did not represent a balanced view of the undergrounding issue, it did graphically convey much of the sentiment that pervaded the meeting that I reported.

I point you to this month’s report of the City Council hearing that I wrote after the 2 February meeting.  Here I do report on the issue of fire safety as it was discussed at that meeting.  Perfect balance is a difficult thing to maintain, even when one sees strengths and weaknesses on both sides of an issue.  Perhaps the accompanying image to this month’s report better portrays my views on the issue.

Art Olson, Avenida Primavera

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Deaf to Debt
March 2010 Issue | Mark Whitehead, Santa Fe Avenue

I want to comment on a corrosive process occurring on the ‘hill’ and in our council chambers. I write as a former neighbor of friends in the Crest Road area. The undergrounding ‘initiative’ could, if voted for by a majority, force some of our neighbors into debt, a debt they testified publicly would be a hardship. Think for a moment how much courage and humility it must take to admit that in public. Some have limited income, getting by because the house is finally debt-free. Others are trying to save precious discretionary income for their kids’ college aspirations. So it is hard to countenance a council or our affluent neighbors who “listen” to people admit they cannot afford this and then ignore them as if their plaint is just one opinion, possibly just a minority view, so let the voters decide. Good government should protect the least advantaged among us. I admire those residents of modest means for balking at potential forced indebtedness and I stand with them. I urge the council, to stop this process and advise that contiguous property owners interested in undergrounding should simply accomplish it privately as has been successfully done in the past.

Mark Whitehead, Santa Fe Avenue

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No, Please!
March 2010 Issue | Don and Susan Instone, Crest Road

At a time of unprecedented economic hardship by many in our town, we are dismayed to learn that some of our North Hills neighbors are nevertheless planning to vote in favor of undergrounding utilities in our area.

As many have testified, this will place a tremendous financial burden on them if this initiative is approved. The costs and fees are extraordinarily high for those on fixed incomes and some may have to sell their homes if this measure is passed. Many are losing sleep over the fear of being taxed on something they cannot afford. How can folks be expected to pay for this when they’re already having difficulty meeting their basic needs and expenses?

How sad that the “haves” apparently value esthetics - sometimes masquerading as safety - over the suffering of our neighbors. We urge residents and the City Council to vote “no.”

Don and Susan Instone, Crest Road

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Powerful Fall
March 2010 Issue | Ralph DeMarco, Avenida Primavera

reply from Art Olson 02/26/10


The caption of your photo of the large toppled tree in front of our house should have been: The dangers of power line tree trimming.

Even though we undergrounded our power line 12 years ago, SDG&E’s previous tree trimming created an unbalanced tree more prone to catastrophic failure in high winds. However, the power company achieved its goal: the falling tree didn’t hit a power line. Instead, it demolished a wall, fence, shed and carport; almost crushed the neighbor’s house and narrowly missed our three children returning home from school that afternoon.

The DeMarco house, identified as the Del Mar Castle, appeared
in the February edition of the Sandpiper.  The Eucalyptus came
down Thursday PM.  Photo Art Olson

It would have been even more newsworthy to include a photo of the two fires – ignited by fallen power lines - on nearby Forest Avenue that same afternoon. This would demonstrate the hazards of deadly high voltage wires dangling above our heads and by all our trees. A sample can be seen on YouTube under power line safety.

Photo Art Olson

Del Mar’s corrosive ocean air, high winds, large trees and overhead power lines with deteriorating transformers are a dangerous combination. So far we have been saved by the vigilance of alert homeowners and the fire department’s quick response. But what happens when a homeowner isn’t there to call for help, 50 mph Santa Ana winds are blowing or fire fighters are too busy battling other fires (like the Witch Creek Fire started by downed power lines) miles away?

Ralph DeMarco, Avenida Primavera

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Measure for Measure
March 2010 Issue | Susan Schneider, Luneta Drive

Dear Editors,

I have asked these questions of the City Council and the Undergrounding Committee members but haven’t received any answers so I’m hoping perhaps with your investigative reporting you can find out for many of us:

1) If the proponents of undergrounding and the City Council members are coming to the conclusion that the main issue is safety, than why are we being assessed according to our views? Why are my husband and I being assessed over $34,000 for our 2,000 square foot brick home while our neighbors in huge McMansions are being assessed much less? If it’s about safety now, then assess us according to those measureables, not our views.

(We protested our view assessment since the wires in our yard are not in our line of sight but up high. But it wasn’t up to us to decide that obviously. Ernesto Aguilar, who never came into our home to have a look, thought otherwise.)

2) Where will the funds for those unable to pay come from? Are we to add donations to that fund to requests for donations for the Shores Property, the new lifeguard station and the lagoon restoration?

3) The majority of speakers last night were concerned with the financial impact of this project, in the current economy, on their own families and on their neighbors.
There was a lot of compassionate concern that those who can afford another tax would force their will on those who can’t. That type of compassion is what makes Del Mar so special. Will the many people who live in Del Mar only part time, and who will comprise a large part of the general vote, share that concern for our neighbors? Do you think the City Council understands who they should be most concerned about and protective of with huge issues like this?

The summations from the City Council members were very disappointing to me. Someone should remind Crystal Crawford that the Ocean Pines project was taken on before the greatest financial crisis in our nation’s history. Her constantly bringing that up was irritating. And Mr. Filanc, in his support of the project for safety concerns, should have been smart enough to realize that the current assessment measurables are for views, and he should have commented on that as well.

Thank you for letting me vent and provide input, even if this is not the appropriate venue. I just found last night very difficult. My heart went out to our wonderful, struggling seniors as well as those young families who have been hit hard at work and now at home. I hate to think of the anxiety this ill-timed project is causing them.

Susan Schneider, Luneta Drive

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Disappointing Report about Undergrounding
letter received January 30, 2010 | Anne Farrell, Via Alta

reply from Art Olson February 26, 2010

Dear Editor,

I am very disappointed to read Art Olson’s piece regarding undergrounding of power lines.  There was not a hint of objectivity, and that was exacerbated by the accompanying illustration – this project is not about “street cosmetics” as the illustrated check states.  Never once did Mr. Olson address what is the most critical underlying issue of this effort: public safety.  Perhaps he isn’t aware of the fire that was started on Forest Way when a tree fell on a power line during February’s big storms.  Surely he remembers the panic we all felt when we were evacuated in the last big San Diego County fire.  All of us in Del Mar are at risk of wildfires from just such an incident as a spark from a fallen overhead electrical line – it would not take much for a fire to spread all over the canopy of trees that covers Del Mar’s hills. 

Yes, an assessment district is complex, but as the residents in the southernmost part of town found, the results are well worth it – for safety reasons, for aesthetics, and to increase property values.  A group of dedicated neighbors in the North Hills and Sunset districts are working hard to realize this project in the best, most cost-efficient way possible.  In addition (something not mentioned by Mr. Olson), there are efforts under way to assist those on fixed incomes to participate in the project. 

Make no mistake: undergrounding power lines is good for all of Del Mar.  It is something that the City should be working on in every neighborhood.  But since they are not, it has been up to volunteers to do the heavy lifting.  I’m sorry that Art Olson and the Sandpiper couldn’t present a fuller, more objective, and truer picture of what this project is all about, and how many people support it.

Anne Farrell. Via Alta

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Scratch Rash development
February 2010 Issue | Drew Cady, 9th Street

December 11, 2009 

Letter to the Board of Directors, 22nd District Agricultural Association, State of California  commenting on the draft EIR for the expansion and development of the Del Mar  Fairgrounds 

Dear Board Members of the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Agricultural District No.33: 

I attended a meeting of the Fairgrounds Board of Directors several weeks ago and spoke to you during the public 3' commentary.  What I said is that I believe the quality of  life, not just for human beings, but for all the creatures who live on and near the Del Mar  Fairgrounds land will be radically and negatively altered forever by the enormous development which you have set forth in your plan.  This development is wrong and  represents the greedy interests of a few people who are shortsighted and unaware of  the fragile ecosystem which exists around this massive fairgrounds land.  The other  evening while at the Inn LʼAuberge Hotel, I viewed an historic photograph of the river  basin that is now the Del Mar Fairgrounds.  Before me was a serene wilderness which  represented perhaps one of the most wonderful aspects of this relatively undisturbed  coastal area, up until man placed his heavy footprint upon it.  The slow takeover and  alteration of this marshland and delta which is the outflow of waters from a major  watershed along southern California has been mostly without regard for the damage 
that it has caused to the natural environment.  

We have learned a great deal in recent decades about how critically important these  natural environments are in maintaining a sustainable lifestyle for those of us who live in  this region, as well as for our offspringsʼ future.  To overdevelop this fragile land area, as  you have depicted in your ʻmaster planʼ is thoughtless and reckless and damaging to  the future potentials of this region.  Like any environment, ours relies upon a cycle of life  and a restorative water culture, which can endure all the burdens which mankind places  upon it.  I dare say, we are at a critical juncture in our history; one, that perhaps we will  look back upon in future years, and realize that without significant efforts to preserve our  watersheds, we would not have been given the privilege to continue to reside in this  coastal desert land.  The earth is a naturally sustaining ecosystem which miraculously 
absorbs so much of the industrial and overdevelopment schemes of man, but we are  rapidly approaching a time when these fragile systems will not be able to counteract the  enormous pressure put upon them by Manʼs non-sustainable usage of natural  resources.  

We are at this crossroad together and it is only through careful planning that we will be  able to assist the earth as it attempts to restore from all of the plunder it has endured  during the "reign of man."   Our erroneous political structures and overactive  development instincts have proven us a weak caretaker of these lands, but we now  have perhaps our last opportunity to reverse this behavior and begin to work with the  earth's naturally sustaining systems in building a healthier and friendlier environment in  which to sustain our race and take care of all the other living beings on earth.  

You can either ignore the pleas of what you might regard as a radical environmentalist  without any rationale for how to better utilize these Fairgrounds, or you can recognize  that your master plan represents a short sighted personal gain for few, at the expense of 
the masses and our revered nature. 

Senator Christine Kehoe may be able to put pressure to stop this development: senator.kehoe@sen.ca.gov
Phone 619 645 3133 or 916 651 4039

or sign petition of opposition at:

If enough of us speak out adamantly about this, we may well be able to stop this development!

Drew Cady, 9th Street

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Fishy smell at Fairgrounds
February 2010 Issue | Steve Rothe, Stratford Court

Sirs: I went to website(sdfair.com)but found no meaningful way to communicate except the comments section(general). There certainly wasn’t a dedicated response section for the EIR proposal. Ridiculous.

I am writing to voice my “No” vote for this terrible proposal. What part of the smell test does this pass? What part of the appearance of impropriety and conflict of interest do these decision makers not see? Why are we allowing obviously conflicted interests to overwhelm the obvious majority of disapproval that screams back NO! Who does this insane project benefit? Certainly no one who lives here. The absurdity of this proposal flies in the face of any reason.

Please convey the depth of anger and frustration that I hear from my fellow neighbors on Stratford Court. No to the proposal. No to the plan.

Steve Rothe, Stratford Court

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More density for del Mar?
February 2010 Issue | Ralph Peck, 11th St

From what I’ve read, Del Mar’s Form Based Code Committee is planning to revitalize downtown based on state law AB1268, which mandated defining “urban smart growth zones” and building more “affordable housing units”. That’s it!
“Urban smart growth” refers to stopping sprawl, making town centers more dense (crowded), and providing more “affordable housing”. Is that what we really want in our little village of Del Mar?

Well, we’re going to get a taste of what’s to come (if we let it) very soon, as the city begins by massaging the traffic downtown with one-lane each way and angle parking!!

Please pay attention to what the city plans to do to our downtown! If you don’t like it, PLEASE LET THE CITY COUNCIL KNOW IT!

Ralph Peck, 11th St

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Don’t sink River Park!
February 2010 Issue | Stu Smith, Board Member, Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley

To: San Diego City Council Members 12/08/2009

I respectfully request that you do NOT reduce funding to the the San Dieguito River Park JPA. I understand that the City of San Diego is under great financial pressures right now, as are most governmental and other agencies. However cutting funding to the SDRP would have serious long term, perhaps fatal, consequences to the park because, as you know, the city is the major supporter of the park, providing roughly a third of the operating costs. Many people, San Diego residents and others, have labored for decades and donated considerable amounts to make the SDRP a reality. Please do not jeopardize this community effort which is creating an outstanding resource for the citizens of San Diego and the region.

No doubt you are being contacted by others who are more eloquent in expressing their support for the SDRP. Here I offer my photographs of some of the treasures within the park.  Click here

Stuart Smith, Rimini Road

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Please say yes!
February 2010 Issue | Freda Reid, Cuchara Drive

To : the editor

The 1989 Joint Powers Agency (JPA)( agreement of shared responsibility for the San Dieguito Riverpark is in jeopardy due to San Diego’s decision to help balance its budget by withdrawing payment of its assessment, 36% of operating costs . Del Mar, Solana Beach, Poway, Escondido and SD County are supportive in spite of similar problems .

In 20 years the JPA staff of 6 plus 5 rangers, has achieved wonders. Most visible are the many miles of multipurpose trails in the river valley between Del Mar and Julian; control of invasive species; Sikes Farmstead renovation; construction of a pedestrian bridge over Lake Hodges and recovery from the 2007 Fire.
Additionally, Grant Funds have produced in excess of $150 million for land purchase, superstructure, education programs, lagoon restoration, and efficient management of the Park.

It was sad to see the JPA Board debate the need for Inflicting furloughs on the small, caring and dedicated staff.

Please continue your personal support and encourage San Diego to find a way to live up to its long time promises as it considers huge new commitments of funds.

Freda Reid, Cuchara Drive

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Bullet Train | Fairgrounds EIR | Train Horn | Crest Traffic | Shores Debt
Shores Use | City Hall Site | Water Bills | Undergrounding | TOT | Solar Panels
Revitalization | FAR | Sidewalk Cafes

Re: Bullet Train
December 2009 Issue | Don Kennedy

Daves article states: “The proposed route from Los Angeles to San Diego goes (will go east?) from downtown LA to Ontario to Riverside to Temecula to Escondido(down I-15) to the Miramar area. Then the train will cut across San Diego County to UTC.” End of near quote. What kind of a route is that? Few people in Del Mar/San Diego would use such a route to go to, or from, LA. There is no mention of our EXISTING Amtrak route. Are the existing train tracks to be abandoned? or, are they to remain in use? What will happen to the precarious tracks on the bluff in Del Mar? Nothing? Will the fine North/South excavation of the tracks in Solana Beach and the excellent Solana Beach Train Station be abandoned? Dave’s article raises many more questions than it answers.

Thank you, Don Kennedy, Rimini Road

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Dave Druker responds:
December 2009 Issue |

My article last month on the high speed rail left at least two unanswered questions:
What happens to the coastal rail? The coastal rail will continue to be used as it serves a different market than the high speed rail. From Irvine to downtown Los Angeles, the coastal rail may be electrified to provide higher speeds.

Why would anyone from San Diego take the high speed rail to Los Angeles? While the route may be longer because the speed is higher and the stops are less numerous, the trip time may be less. Also the high speed rail provides a transit alternative for those people commuting from southeast Riverside to San Diego County. Finally, as Ontario Airport begins to provide more flights to the rest of the world, the high speed rail will provide connectivity for us to this airport.

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December 2009 Issue | Nancy Jellison

I am aghast at the Master Plan EIR for the Del Mar Fairgrounds. It would appear the reason for the expansion is void of any consideration for the environment of Del Mar. Indeed, the impact of immense traffic to the air quality alone would make the idea deplorable. It would appear the Plan has been motivated by a voracious greed for money, and little for compassion.
In addition, the Plan would impact the village atmosphere of Del Mar, and make it into a commercialized area, rather than the charming village we all know and love. The traffic into town would be impossible, as well as the parking situation. Del Mar cannot sustain huge amounts of people and traffic, nor can Highway 5 which is already dreadful, and certainly not Highway 101.
This plan must be stopped by the people of Del Mar.

Sincerely, Nancy Jellison, Mira Montana Drive

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Letter to Sandpiper
December 2009 Issue | Chuck Newton

Despite some obscure headlines, I think November was one of Sandpiper’s very best issues ever. Congratulations!!!

And it also aroused some questions that I wish I had the energy to pursue:

1. The Planning Department is proposing modifications for Camino del Mar, even as the Interim Planning Director has an ad-hoc committee studying a different plan called Form Based Code. Seems like a duplication of staff time and money.

2. Howard Gad wrote that individual property owners could opt out of the Form Based Code. So what would then apply? The current zoning? (Which I thought would be superseded by the new Code.) And what if the owner of a property covered by the Code wanted a variation? Would that be permitted, and if so, who would decide? The DRB/Planning Commission, or the ad-hoc committee?

3. The spread on the Ag District’s scheme was a real scoop, and is a juicy bone to pick in future issues. Flooding, for example. I recall that in report to the City Council on the Feb. 21, 1980, flood, the City Manager said there was 7-foot wall of water coming over Hodges Dam, and if a forecast new storm had actually arrived, the river could have reverted to its original course to the ocean around 24th street. (See photo page 2)

In my files I found an October, 1971, engineering report which predicts the river’s main course would wipe out the area where the Fairboard proposes a hotel and other huge buildings. The volume of such a flood appears to be about what the City Manager had predicted if the expected storm had actually arrived.  photo

4. Many years ago when I was on the Planning Commission, Dwight Worden, former City Attorney, told us that State law requires cities such as ours to have Planning Commissions. But I wonder if he could now tell us under what circumstances a City Council can bypass the Commission on a critical issue such as allowing restaurants to use city sidewalks at insignificant rental rates.

Chuck Newton, Forest Way

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Thank you, Hershell Price: reply
September 30, 2009 | Hershell Price

Dear Editor,

Our group efforts to reduce Train Horn Noise and have our City Council consider the creation of a Quiet Zone at Coast Boulevard have paid off.  The City Council will consider our proposal to create a Quiet Zone at its October 26th meeting.  This item will be heard under Oral Communications at 7 PM. It was suggested we do it this way so that everyone could be there at that time.  The Councilmembers will be able to consider and act upon our request.  Please mark your calendars and be there for sure.

Hershell Price
Grand Ave

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Thank you, Hershell Price
September 28, 2009 | Jim and Bernadette Watkins

Those who live near the train tracks may have noticed the train whistle or horn had gotten louder and longer in duration this year. Much louder and much longer, sometimes on the south bound train starting at the bridge north of town. Like the weather, everyone talks about it, but no one does anything. Well, Hershell Price did, he called on the powers to be and local residents and got the job done. Almost in days, the volume is down and the duration less- THANKS HERSHELL. Thanks for your efforts and our peace .

Jim and Bernadette Watkins
Grand Ave

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Re:  Chicanery on Crest  Original Article
September 21, 2009 | Ken Paulovich

In response to your September article, there has been no appreciable reduction in the volume and speed of Crest traffic due to the new permanent chicane. During the late afternoon peak volume period, essentially all vehicles are traveling north, so they merely speed around the chicane caravan-style without slowing or stopping.
Pedestrians are safer, not because of the chicane, but because of the pathway incorporated into the adjacent mini-park.
I have witnessed several angry confrontations and near misses when two opposing vehicles attempt to pass around the chicane first.
The permanent chicane has not been an effective traffic-calming device.

Ken Paulovich
Crest Road

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Re: Cake, and Eat It Too!  Original Article
September 18, 2009 | Joe Sullivan

Sandpiper Editors,

This is in response to your September article proposing a Redevelopment Agency to develop the city hall site and provide funds for capital improvements, including payment of the debt on the Shores property. This creative idea merits further consideration.

I would like to clear up a few factual errors concerning the Shores Park.

The article incorrectly states, “in March 2007, the City stepped in to help finance the acquisition of the Shores property.”  In fact, in 2005 the City Council made acquisition of the Shores a top priority and asked residents to undertake private fundraising to help make that possible. The fundraising group, now known as the Friends of Del Mar Parks, was organized under the umbrella of the Del Mar Foundation. In addition, the City negotiated an agreement to keep the Winston School on the property. Winston agreed to raise a substantial portion of the necessary funds as a pre-payment of rent, agreed to upgrade the school buildings within ten years, and agreed not to bid against the City to buy the property.

The City purchased the property for $8.5mm in May 2008 with $5mm in donations, borrowing the balance of $3.5mm. The Friends committed to continue fundraising to pay off the note.

The article incorrectly states, “the repayment promise has fallen short”.  In fact, the fundraising by the Friends has continued as promised. In the past year we have contributed about $175,000 to make required payments on the loan. To date, no funds have been taken from the General Fund or the Open Space fund for acquisition of the Park. The City, with support of the Friends, is wisely exploring alternate sources of financing in case private contributions are not available to cover the entire balance.

The article incorrectly states that the Library was acquired through General Obligation bonds.   As one of the fundraisers at the time, I know that the Library was purchased with private funds raised by the Friends of the Library along with City borrowing against payments due from the developer of L’Auberge. 

The article incorrectly states, “the Shores property … cannot be compared to the Powerhouse Park or the Library…” In fact, the projects are directly comparable. Powerhouse Park was but a dirt lot slated for commercial development until the community had the vision to see it as a park. The landmark library building was an office building, for sale to private developers, before the community had the vision to see it as a future library. The Shores may now look like nothing but old school buildings with an ill kept ball field, but the more than 500 folks who have contributed to help the City buy the property have the vision to see it as a vibrant community park for future generations.

Joe Sullivan
President, Friends of Del Mar Parks

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Re: Cake, and Eat It Too!  Original Article
September 2, 2009 | Bettina Experton

In response to Jan McMillan, the new South end anchor which we refer to in our article is about the redevelopment of the City Hall site under a Master Plan for a mixed used retail – residential complex, and not to the Shores property which can remain with its current use of a park and a school while the higher density redevelopment will be applied to the commercial City Hall site. This can be summarized as a ”density transfer” to allow for open space such as park and school use on the Shores site.

Incidentally, we believe that the best site to build a new City Hall would be on the vacant private property directly South and adjacent to the City Hall site and East of the Art ists Motel. Parking for a new City Hall on that location will be provided with the proposed new City underground public parking, under the newly developed City Hall site. 

Bettina Experton
Past member of the City Finance Committee

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Re: Cake, and Eat It Too!  Original Article
August 28, 2009 | Jan McMillan

Dear Sandpiper Editors:
I read with interest Brian Huster and Bettina Experton's proposal to create a Del Mar Redevelopment Agency and declare both the City Hall and Shores sites "blighted." While the the authors went into considerable detail about how the City Hall property could be subsequently redeveloped, they said very little about future uses for the Shores site.  I may have missed something in the article, but I came away wondering which of the two properties they envision as "a needed South end anchor" of the City--the City Hall parcel or the Shores?  Or both?
My husband and I made a modest donation to the Del Mar Shores campaign with the expectation that the site will be used as a park, open space and the Winston School. I would appreciate knowing if the authors have other uses in mind.  I hope not. 

Jan McMillan
12th Street

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Chicanery Indeed!  Original Article
August 28, 2009 | Frank Chisari

Despite the optimistic anecdotal claims about traffic on Crest Road in the September Sandpiper, the improvement in traffic on Crest Road cannot be ascribed to the recently installed measures. Traffic improved long before the measures were installed, thanks to the widening of I-5 which reduced cut-through traffic from a congested freeway, and to the high cost of fuel which reduced traffic volume all over the county. And walkers and joggers feel safer because there’s a Garden Club-funded park there now that gets them off the road, not because of the City-funded chicanes.

The problem that plagued this process from the outset is the absence of any objective evidence that the approved measures are either appropriate or effective, and the lack of a plan to determine objectively if they will achieve their intended purpose after they’re installed. Because pre-installation traffic counts did not take into consideration the corresponding measurements on feeder streets (i.e. I-5, Camino Del Mar, and Del Mar Heights Road), it will never be possible to determine objectively if the improvement touted in the article is due to the Crest Road modifications or to regional effects.

As with all anecdotal evidence, the claims of improvement reflect the underlying bias of the observers one chooses to quote, not the underlying facts which can only be determined by appropriately controlled measurements.

The decision to modify Crest Road was based on such anecdotes, plus emotional appeals by political supporters, and wishful thinking. The fallacy in that reasoning is that, if the supporters ultimately realize that their preferred solution has failed, it will be much more difficult to approach the Council to take action again. There are too many competing priorities in our City, and not enough money.

Based on those anecdotes, however, the Council imposed unproven measures on an entire neighborhood of citizens who almost unanimously opposed them. It was obvious then that this was not an evidence-based decision. It is unfortunate now that, without objective evidence to support the anecdotal claims that it is publishing, The Sandpiper is propagating the myth that it was the right thing to do.

Frank Chisari
Crest Road

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Fairness in Renting and Water Billing
August 21, 2009 | McLean Vincent

I write this in hopes of initiating local legislation that would require Landlords to install separate water meters if they choose to bill multi-unit Tenants for water usage.

There are numerous examples of legislation across the nation in recent years banning the practice of water bills on a pro-rata share.  This has been enacted to insure fairness to renters so that they cannot be billed for water which they do not use. 

There are currently multi-unit renters in Del Mar that are being billed for water usage on a pro-rata share. In this scenario, there is no way to determine the fairness to each Tenant in billing them for their individual water use.  There is no consideration for multi-unit renters who may not be residing in their leasehold property full-time, or may be out of town for considerable periods of time.  These renters are billed for water they do not use.

There is no accounting of the water bill provided to the Tenants, just a water bill determined by the Landlord.  There is no documentation of what the Landlord is billed by the City, or a reconciliation of the “pro-rata share formula”.   They may even charge an administration fee for doing so.  Nobody knows but the Landlord!

In addition, there are apartment complexes in Del Mar that charge some Tenants for pro-rata share of water, while other Tenants in the same complex are not charged for any water usage.  Perhaps the Landlord is taking the liberty to negotiate different deals with each Tenant?  Are there even any laws governing that practice?

Renters have separate meters for S.D.G. & E.   Why should it be any different for water?

In conclusion, Landlords who want to bill their Tenants for water should be required to install water sub-meters.  There needs to be a law banning water bills on a pro-rata share.  There is no other fair way.

The obvious solution that would be less expensive to the Landlords than installing sub-meters would be for them to simply charge a higher lease rate that would offset their desire to back-bill water usage that cannot be determined fairly to the Tenants.

Tenants Legal Center - Water billing Click here.

Mclean Vincent
Camino Del Mar

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Stakes and Aesthetics in North Hills and Sunset Districts
Pat Welsh, Zapo Street; Nancy Ross, Kalamath Drive; Ann Dempsey, Crest Road; Don Smith, Balboa Avenue | July 8, 2009

The City’s stakes marking the location of utility boxes and pedestals omit all walls and fail to show the full size of many installations. Unless properly screened, as we have been suggesting to the City for months, the installations are going to be very noticeable and astonishingly ugly. Why is the City exempt from Design Review Board oversight on this enormous project?

We urge everyone to speak up and require the City and its engineers to comply with the normal aesthetic standards of Del Mar. For very little additional cost, evenly apportioned among the residents, we can have attractive installations instead of ugly eyesores that we will forever regret.


Letters concerning the new sidewalk cafes on 15th Street


A Virtual Give Away
Maneck S. Wadia, Ph.D, Luneta Drive | July 7, 2009

Dear Editor:

Whether one approves or disapproves of the sidewalk cafes, (in a city where even a wheelchair bound citizen has to jump through hoops to modify his residence), there is little doubt that the Del Mar City Council was snookered into practically giving away public land for private use, without appropriate hearings. The main beneficiaries of this encroachment will not be the citizens, but the business owners, and especially the landlord.

I congratulate Mr. Watkins and his associates on a significant victory; and I castigate the City Council for not conducting due diligence necessary for such a significant, and permanent change, in the ambiance of our city.

Cracks in the Del Mar Way
John Kerridge, Editor Emeritus  of the  Sandpiper | June 18, 2009

After four-plus hours of public testimony and city council discussion, spread over two meetings on consecutive weeks, the debate about outdoor restaurant extensions has been exhaustive, but still incomplete. Three major issues evaded direct confrontation, despite abundant rhetoric ostensibly addressing them.

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Out of Control
by Sam Borgese, author of the opinion piece, "Fear-based Planning, | June 16         

The most succinct statement I can make pertinent to the sidewalk café project is that they are out of control.  They are out of the control of the planning department, the city council and the residents.  They are however squarely in the control of the DMVA and the business and property owners who are self served by their implementation.

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Our Little Slice of Paradise
Submitted by Jen Grove, DMVA, for Carlo Coppo, Zuni Drive | June 14, 2009

I cannot recall the last time I, or anyone else for that matter, returned from Europe complaining that the village sidewalks were to narrow or the sidewalk cafes interfered with either my ability to move freely about the town or my visual appreciation of the scenery.

To state the proposition is to refute it. I have lived in Del Mar for 32 years and have enjoyed what this village was when I arrived, what it has become, and what it will be through the vision and selfless energy of those responsible for its present imprint on and appeal to all, young, old, and in between. It is with pride that I live here and it is with pride that I experience the delight that sweeps across the faces of those I meet when I tell them I live in Del Mar. With that being said, permit me to provide
some hopefully ennobling commentary from a t
rue "old timer" Del Martian.

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Orchids to Onions
from Milton Karafilis, 9th Street | June 13, 2009

ORCHIDS go to the Americana and Jimmy O's sidewalk cafes for their excellent design and artful articulation. The design follows through with the attractive brick work of the existing Americana sidewalk cafe on Camino del Mar and is a significant upgrade to the previous unattractive fence railing and long time metal news racks. Additionally, both have been held well back to provide a wide pathway for pedestrians and have plans to attractively landscape the area.

ONIONS to the two sidewalk cafes at Del Mar Pizza and Sbicca's. Where was the Del Mar Planning department to allow or recommend to the city council sidewalk cafes that make the walkway so tight as to crowd the pedestrians and lose the openness? Not only do they destroy the openness of passage, but they are unsightly conrete block construction and provide no landscape. What was the Del Mar planning department thinking? Where was the city council on this one?

The same article in pdf format.

A Pedestrian-oriented Downtown.
submitted by Jen Grove, DMVA, for Linda Rock & Richard Levak | June 11, 2009

Del Mar’s Community Plan calls for an economically viable, pedestrian‐oriented downtown. It is increasingly challenging, however, for businesses to be viable amid the current economic downturn and growing competition from neighboring communities. Our arduous planning process has resulted in lovely outcomes, like the Plaza and the L’Auberge, but also lost opportunities like the Gardens Project, which was ultimately buried under the weight of our laborious, uncertain planning process.

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Open Letter to the City Council
by Brooke Eisenberg-Pike, Design Review Board member | June 9, 2009

In your publicly stated goal to hasten and streamline the approval process for outdoor dining and ensure that private property owners would not have to pay for plans you circumvented the design review process that this community has come to rely on for decades.  As far as I know you are the first Council since the community plan that has ever allowed private developers to encroach on the public right of way without the review of the Design Review Board. I would also like to remind you and the public that in 2008 the zone code amendment that allowed for this irresponsible process was not approved unanimously for various reasons. Only three council members approved it, both Mayor Druker and Councilmember Abarbanel voted no.

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Sidewalk Cafes: Construction Details
by James Watkins, owner of Stratford Square | June 8, 2009

The adopted Del Mar Community Plan, the Del Mar Streetscape Plan, the recent Kennedy Smith Report, and virtually every study done in Del Mar over the past 43 years that I have lived in Del Mar - all recommended and encouraged sidewalk cafes as a means to enhance the pedestrian orientation, the character, and vitality of our village.

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Response to “Fear-Based Planning”
from Don Mosier, member of Del Mar City Council | June 8, 2009

A few months ago, I was heartened that a new day in national politics had arrived when President Obama said in his inaugural address, “On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.” 

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So-Called “Sidewalk cafes"
from Anne Farrell, former Chair of the Design Review Board | May 31, 2009

Dear Editor,

Over the last few weeks, I have watched with astonishment as hefty structures have been erected along 15th Street – concrete and brick barriers (so-called “sidewalk cafes”) that will forever block some of the beautiful public views in the center of Del Mar.

What I have since learned is that the City Council allowed these businesses to construct these massive extensions to their properties – on public land – without any design review process whatsoever. Why in the world would the Council have approved such a major change to our town based only on concept drawings? No public input was truly possible based on concept drawings only – clearly, not even the Councilmembers could know what these things would look like until they were built, since no architectural drawings were ever presented to them or to the public.

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Del Mar Sidewalk Cafes
by Dwight Worden, former City Attorney | May 29, 2009

I was surprised to see the new bulky, and to me unattractive, sidewalk structures on the south side of 15th street. So, I looked into the situation, and was concerned at what I found.  Sure, beat me up–I didn’t attend the City Council meeting on the new sidewalk café ordinance. Perhaps naively I thought the DRB and the City Council would see that things were done in the usual and thorough “Del Mar Way” involving lots of community discussion and input. And even if I had been at the council hearing on the new sidewalk café ordinance I would have read that “planter boxes” and “railings” were contemplated by the new ordinance as the demarcation measures to be allowed on the public sidewalk and would have had little inkling of the massive concrete and brick walls to be constructed.  

continuation in pdf format

An Open Letter to the City Council
A Letter to the Editor | February 2009

The composition of the Form Based Code Committee (FBCC) that was recommended at your last council meeting could have some unfortunate ramifications for the community. Twenty-five years ago the Planning Commission was comprised pretty much as has been recommended for the FBCC. There was a “design professional” (a very aggressive architect), three “citizen planners” (3 contractors and developers), a real property professional (a real estate agent). They represented a very pro-growth council that was overwhelmingly defeated in 2 elections (1986 and 1988). Actual residents with no dog (potential economic gain) in that fight were excluded from representation on the commission. We have not seen the likes of that kind of land use committee until now with the most recent recommendations. I will not belabor the point, but it was exactly that kind of committee and attitude that gave way to Measure B, the very ordinance you would like to repeal. Many residents among us have been accused of living in the past; unfortunately, and ironically, the committee representation that was recommended will take us back to the past.

At the very least the “design professional” should be a DRB member, the “planning professional” should be a member of the Planning Commission and the “financial expert” should be a member of the Finance Committee and there should be, at the very least, 2 residents at large. It has already been stated that the “traffic” seat should be filled by a TPAC member. Members of Boards and Commissions generally have some knowledge of the Community Plan and for the most part are not trying to receive economic gain from changes in zoning.

The plan as presented did not include review by the Design Review Board. This level of review should not be omitted.

The Council has given voice to the desire to give developers incentives and certainties rather than the vagaries of Measure B. No one mentioned that Measure B gives a certain amount of security and certainty to the community. That certainty is the ability to have input into the uses of the property and benefits to the community in exchange for the bonuses given to the developers. Measure B has the ability to ensure that the benefits (services and amenities) offered to the entire residential community offset the impacts of the development. These assurances, though equally important, are broader than just protection of the adjacent neighborhoods. It appears that you may be stacking the deck against residential interests in your quest to give developers incentives.

from Brooke Eisenberg-Pike, Hoska

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Election | TOT | Green Issues | Shores Property
Sheriff's Contract | Retail Sales

Come Meet Nick Leibham
A Letter to the Editor | November 2008


We are a group of Del Mar families who have been inviting progressive candidates and incumbents into our homes for the last several years to discuss issues that affect our community, the nation, and the world. Delmarians have been effective in getting good people elected and getting them to focus on issues we think important.

We hope you can attend a wine and cheese reception for candidate Nick Leibham on Wednesday October 22, at 6pm. Don and Luann Countryman have agreed to host the event at their home on the corner of Crest and Amphitheater. Nick has an excellent chance to unseat Brian Bilbray, the current occupant of the "Randy Duke" seat in Congress.

Many of us were disappointed that Francine Busby was unable to win this seat two years ago, so some have concluded that this is a "safe" seat. The facts suggest otherwise. First of all, we need to remember that the 2006 race in our 50th district was the most expensive race in Congressional history, a whopping $16million. The Repub Party spent $10 million to defeat Francine because they saw this as a watershed race. Busby's campaign was overwhelmed by this massive infusion of outside support. Even so, she missed by only 2 percentage points.

This year's race offers a much more hopeful opportunity. In the last 16 months, 8 thousand new Democratic voters have registered. And more than 4200 new Independent registrants poll about 2-1 for Nick. During the same period, Republicans have lost 3700 registered voters. Recent polls in this district put Bush at 26% and Bilbray at 42%. The Leibham campaign has 3 offices and employs 15 staff members. In addition to Democrats, they are micro-targeting 32 thousand Republican women with no man in the house--polling shows about 50% of them are leaning toward Leibham. Leibham has identified over 100,000 supporters. Bilbray has about 110,000. There are about 60-80 thousand Independents. A high percentage of these targeted voters are pro-choice, pro-environment, and anti-gun. Of course, the crumbling economy moves more voters to the Democratic side.

Nick is a young, attractive, articulate, energetic candidate with progressive values--our kind of guy. We have a very good chance to do our part in taking back our country by putting a quality person in the 50th for the first time ever. We hope you will join us on Wednesday and size Nick up for yourselves. If you agree, bring your check books and help him make it happen.

Some Key Brian Bilbray Votes For Your Consideration

Please RSVP soon so we can order enough food and wine: call Ryan at 769 697 1084 or email ryan@picknick08.com

Linda and Jerry Hirshberg
Henry Abarbanel and Beth Levine
Luann and Don Countryman
David Druker
Rosanne and Joel Holliday
Crystal Crawford
Joe Sullivan
Mary Ann and Bud Emerson

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Support “H” for Community Services
A letter to the Editor | October 2008

On Nov. 4 Del Mar voters will decide whether to approve Measure H giving the city council authority to raise the City’s transient occupancy tax (TOT) from 10.5% up to 13 %. The TOT is the tax paid by hotel visitors that historically has been used by our city for community services. However, when placing measure H before the voters, the city council, at the same time also introduced a municipal code “amendment” formalizing their intent to consider forgoing more than $300,000 of potential TOT revenue annually if the hotels decide to form their own private marketing agency. That money, instead, could be collected by our local hotels to be administered by them; effectively limiting the City’s take to less than 13%.

We authored an argument against measure H because we believe that, while the city should increase the TOT to 13%, all of the money should go into our general fund. We were concerned about the intent of the council-proposed “amendment”, signaling to the hoteliers a willingness to potentially limit the TOT the city would collect, and we objected.

Based on our objection to the unwarranted concession to the hoteliers, potentially limiting the funds available for general city needs, the city council September 22 rescinded their code “amendment”.

By this letter we wish to acknowledge the council’s recent action rescinding the “amendment”, and state our willingness to now support measure H. We hope the community will similarly vote for measure H and, at the same time, appreciate the concerns we raised in our argument that they will read when opening the voter’s ballot guide.

While the council rescinded their objectionable code “amendment”, they reiterated on September 22 continued interest in limiting the amount of TOT the City could receive in order to provide marketing support for and by the hotels. They handed off to the next council the opportunity to pass a re-written “amendment” if measure H passes. We hope measure H passes and encourage the community to weigh-in on how the “amendment” related to the TOT is ultimately written and how the money of any TOT increase is spent. It is our wish, as residents and former Mayors and Council Members, that the council will utilize the entire, maximum TOT revenue for city purposes, and allocate it based on community input.

Mark Whitehead; Brooke Eisenberg-Pike; Deborah Isackson-Groban; Jan McMillan; Jacqueline Winterer.

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Re:  How Green Is Del Mar?
A Web Exclusive: This letter to editor did not appear in the print edition | posted on the web August 7, 2008

Dear Editor,

Having grown up in Hobart, Tasmania, [which, by the way, has the cleanest water in the world] and having  lived later as an adult in Perth, Western Australia, before coming to Del Mar, I have lived and experienced conservation and using natural resources for energy.

Solar was my way of life in the early 70s ; our heating and the energy source for all our needs, including our heating of our swimming pool, came from solar energy. Low flush toilets to conserve water, drought resistant landscaping to conserve water [we live in a reclaimed desert] -- people should be seriously encouraged to use all these measures to "green" our city.

Kay Hansen, Del Mar

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A Response Re:  Clarification on use of Shores Property  A Web Exclusive: This letter to editor did not appear in the print edition | posted on the web June 3, 2008

The Resolution approved by the City Council in August, 2007 was premised upon the Del Mar Shores fundraisers raising the full cost of the agreed upon $ 8.5 million purchase price. Circumstances have now changed since August, with the City now stepping in with a plan for short term borrowing of $3.5 million to fill a funding gap left by the fundraisers who did not succeed in raising the full amount. By its own terms, the resolution did not bind the City Council to any particular use of the property.  It expressed the intention of the City Council to at least preserve the existing open space but did not specify the uses to be made of the developed portion of the site other than for the Winston School use.   The City has assumed a substantial financial risk in order to preserve the opportunity to purchase the Shores property, borrowing money it does not have.  If the fundraisers fail to raise the additional funds needed, the City will have to find another means of raising the money to repay the debt (special tax, etc.).  Placing the City Hall on that portion of the Shores property currently occupied by the School District is an option the City Council should consider from both a financial , and land use perspective for the entire community. In this way, the cost of the new City Hall construction and possibly the repaying of the $3.5 million debt could be covered by the lease of the existing City Hall site for a mixed retail/ residential development. This would not violate the intent of the City Council as expressed by the August, 2007 resolution. 

Bettina Experton and Wayne Dernetz

Bettina Experton is Chair of the Del Mar Finance Committee.
Wayne Dernetz is a former city manager and city attorney.

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It's time to look at our high-priced Sheriff's Contract   A Letter to the Editor | June 2008

Our fair city is always looking for ways to expand revenue sources, but rarely looks at the exploding cost side of government. I think it is time to closely scrutinize our sheriff's contract that has grown over 100% in the last few years with little to no increase in protective services.

In 1998 the Sheriffs budget for our city's police protection was approximately $660,000. In 2008 the same budget, for the same basic services is $1.2 million. The notes in the published city budget states that this cost jump is mostly attributed to exploding pension costs.

Like the City of San Diego , our city is experiencing out-of-control pension increases.

It is high time that our city leaders take a hard look at other police protection options. One option that should be reviewed is forming a brand new police department with the cities of Solana Beach and Encinitas. Thanks to Mayor David Druker for taking a leadership role and bringing this issue up with the mayors of those cities. The solution is NOT to attach our protection needs to other cities like Coronado , Carlsbad , or San Diego . These cities also have the high price of backend benefits as well.

Another solution to explore is a new police force with highly paid police officers and fair pension plans.

We will have two new faces on the council this year with Henry and David retiring. Maybe this new city council can put a priority on reviewing the cost side of government with a focus on our police-protection contract.

Jim Benedict, Del Mar

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Clarification on use of Shores Property  
A Letter to the Editor | June 2008

This is in response to Bettina Experton's suggestion, in the May edition, that a new City Hall might be built on the Shores site once it is acquired by the City. Some may be unaware of the history of the City's interest and efforts to acquire the property. The City at one time explored the possibility of putting a new city hall on the Shores property. That idea was considered and rejected by the council several years ago, even before the property was declared surplus by the school district. Again, on August 6, 2007, the council adopted a resolution stating: “The City's long term goal is to maximize the open space and recreational uses on the property. Although other public facilities are permitted under current zoning, the City Council has no intention of pursuing other uses … such as a new fire station or city hall.”

When the City was unable to fund the purchase of the property, generous contributors from Del Mar and the Winston School agreed to help fund the purchase to preserve the educational and recreational use of the property. The contributors, the fundraisers and the community have relied upon the City's stated purposes for acquiring this beautiful five-acre parcel in Del Mar.

We continue to raise funds to pay off a $3.5M note to the District. To suggest now that the City change its position on use of the site would dismay both contributors and fundraisers, whose efforts, along with the City's and the School District 's, have made it possible to at last acquire the Shores property.

Joe Sullivan, Chair, Campaign for Del Mar Shores

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Revitalization Score: Residents 1, Landlords 6
A Letter to the Editor | June 2008

If I were writing the headline for the City Council's action on April 7, that's how it would read.

The Council agreed to spend $250,000 for a specific plan to increase retail sales. Just to get its bait back with the city's 1% share of the sales tax, $2,500,000 of new sales will be needed.

Meanwhile, 6% of sales on new rents will go to downtown landlords--a flood of new income on properties with typically low property taxes, especially those sheltered by Proposition 13 (see Dernetz, Nov. 2007 Sandpiper ).

This landlords' windfall will surely not draw support from residents when the plan goes to a vote. To avoid defeat, the downtown owners should throw something meaningful into the pot, and here's a suggestion: Create a Downtown Assessment District for providing parking.

Chuck Newton, Del Mar

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Losing Ground In Del Mar 
A Letter to the Editor | December 2007

Del Mar underground is not progressive as some DRB members seem to think. If they are impressed by tricky architects' drawings of “invisible” basements, they might do well to reconsider. Digging yourself into the earth on that scale has proved regressive, taking our once relatively civilized community back to the rough power games of cave dwellers.

In the pre-excavation era, Del Mar was not only one of the loveliest but also more equitable communities in San Diego county, due in part to the Community Plan that for decades regulated issues like bulk, mass, air, light, and density by defining the different floor-area-ratios in different areas of the city. Based on its citizens' mutual agreement to live together in a city, that plan has contributed to their good quality of life, which excluded mansionization. But there was the Achilles heel of the basement provision that has now grown to the 3000+ sq.ft. underground wine cellars, entertainment centers, offices, and guest rooms requiring ever larger, more polluting, more noisy excavations.

Over a period of several years, sand is blown all over the neighborhood, and giant equipment screeches and groans, consuming huge amounts of energy. This waste concerns also human physical and mental energy diminished by ever-growing air and noise pollution, increase of construction equipment traffic, and anxiety about the cumulative geological instability in our hilly town. Just look at the surreal excavation on Klish close by Tewa: the sandstone bluffs are fast disappearing to reveal eerily large spaces underground . Who says that this is good for Del Mar? The ongoing inflation of basement space is the result of individual creative greed, not of a community's wishes. The enormity of the basement provision has crept up on us, but with growing speed and momentum. We need to rethink it as a community.

Dagmar Barnouw, Del Mar

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Guidelines : Letters to the Editor
Note: this notice has been in our print issue for ten years.

• The Sandpiper welcomes readers’ letters and articles.

• Material submitted must include the writer’s name, street address and phone number, and should not exceed 400 words.

• Material selected to be published may be edited or shortened.

The Sandpiper, Box 2177, Del Mar, CA 92014; or

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