Governor Brown has signalled that he is not yet ready to sign off on Del Mar’s plan to purchase the fairgrounds and guarantee regional control. He has also signalled that he generally favors local control. So, where does that leave Del Mar?
We choose to see this delay as less of a problem and more of an opportunity. Until now we have been operating in a herky-jerky pattern of hurry up, wait, and confidentiality. We urge the Council to move forward on two related fronts, one to perfect the proposal to make it appealing to the State and local stakeholders, the other to trigger the “Del Mar Way” — a public process of involving Del Mar residents in reviewing and improving the proposal.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to solve Del Mar’s biggest chronic headache, an out of control Fair Board that operates in one-fifth of our town containing our most precious natural resources. If we get this right it will transform our relationship with this entity from victim to partner.
We can make the case that we are the most logical stewards of the environment as well as this regional recreational resource. Not just because this is in our legal jurisdiction, but because Del Mar has a proven track record of balancing environmental protection with sound economics. Reclamation of the lagoon and creation of the San Dieguito River Valley Authority is an accomplishment of heroic proportions. Financially, this smallest city in the region has the highest bond rating, highest real estate valuation per capita, with no deficit and no debt overhang. We know how to respect mother nature and we know how to balance the books.
We also know how to make the best of the tremendous brain power we have in our citizenry. Most of the best strategic decisions we have made as a community over the decades have come from vigorous citizen involvement processes. Not only are Del Mar citizens hungry for respectful involvement, there is much citizen expertise to be mined for creative input, particularly those with business transaction, financial, environmental, and municipal expertise. The product will be better and the community will be united.
The Sandpiper has been critical in recent times of the City Council’s increasing tendency to shortcut participatory processes, emphasizing speed over quality in key decisions. Now, we have the time to do this important constituency work. We would like the Council to show the will.