Dec/Jan 2009-2010 home page


Build on our Wetlands? Get Serious!

Wetlands flood 1980.  Courtesy del Mar Historical Society.


What’s the highest and best use of the San Dieguito River Valley? A huge paved parking lot? A multi-story condominium hotel with 330 rooms? A multi-level parking garage for 1300 cars? Yes, yes, and YES!, according to the Fair Board’s Master Plan and Environmental Impact Report (EIR) currently available for public input. Del Mar, however, has a very different perspective.

The river valley site of the fairgrounds is a floodplain. Floodplains flood. Wetlands absorb the waters of dangerous floods and, thereby, prevent downstream flooding and disaster. Long time residents of Del Mar know from experience that floods do periodically inundate our low-lying neighborhoods. Thus, for Del Mar the highest and best use of our floodplain is not development, intense use, or more impervious surfaces, but as a naturally draining buffer against flooding.

Floodplains also serve as rich, complex ecosystems. The San Dieguito Lagoon was once the largest of six San Diego coastal lagoons; it has the largest watershed. It is critical to fisheries, and its wetlands are the most productive ecosystem in the world.
Until January 8, our city leaders and residents have the opportunity to respond to the Fairgrounds EIR (see www.sdfair.com). Our responses will be weighed by the Coastal Commission, the key permit-granting authority for each of the Fairgrounds’ projects. In reviewing these proposed projects we see a number of troubling hydrological, biological, aesthetic threats: A huge hotel that blocks views and turns its back (and ugly service facilities) toward the recently restored lagoon, unacceptably close to and not buffered by nature from the river. Paved and multi-story parking east of Jimmy Durante Boulevard preventing absorption of floodwaters, discharging pollutants from thousands of cars toward the river and beach. Degradation of the $90 million lagoon restoration. Demolition of our firestation without plans for a replacement.

We urge our readers to track this environmental threat and to voice concerns to Dustin Fuller, Sr. Environmental Planner, 22nd District Agricultural Association, Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar, CA 92014-2216.

Unlike structures of steel and concrete which can be built virtually instantly, the San Dieguito River Valley ecosystem constitutes a finite resource that humans can never really duplicate. No further development that degrades this lagoon system should be allowed.



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