Jacqueline Winterer | Ocean View Avenue
On March 12 the 22nd District Agricultural Association (DAA) issued a Notice of Pending Permit to the California Coastal Commission requesting approval for a new five-week second race season and future physical “improvements,” in other words implementation of the controversial Fairgrounds 2009 Master Plan. The Notice was filed as a result of the Commission’s 2012 Cease and Desist Orders which require the DAA to get permits for future events and development at the Fairgrounds.
The application includes a request for authorization to hold an additional race season, four days a week beginning in late October or early November. The second race season includes, possibly and occasionally, the Breeder’s Cup World Championship, a prestigious two day racing event similar to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, or Belmont Stakes. Average daily attendance is estimated to be about 10,000 people. Attendance over the course of the second season may reach 90,000 people.
Conceptual Approval of the 2009 Master Plan
The “proposed physical improvements” are, in fact, submission for a Comprehensive Coastal Development permit to implement the controversial 2009 Master Plan which caused Del Mar, Solana Beach and the San Dieguito River Park to file a lawsuit against the District claiming failure to adequately assess impacts of the proposed expansion. A settlement between the parties resulted in deletion of the proposed hotel-condo project for five years, a minimum 100-foot buffer along the River, plans to restore the Southern Overflow (parking) Lot and consultation with the parties on the 92-foot electronic sign adjacent to I-5, lighted sports fields on top of a new 45 foot high Exhibit Hall and a Health Club/Sports Training Facility east of Jimmy Durante Blvd.
The Permit Application covers 11 physical improvements including:
• The new Exhibit Hall replacing the present Crosby and Pat O’Brien exhibit halls with a single 198,000 sq. foot building. This will represent a 26,220 sq. ft. increase of exhibit space and will have roof-top sports fields. The maximum height of the old building is 45.75 ft. The height of this new building will be 51.5 ft plus one story for the structures associated with the roof-top sports fields. For 122 days of the year lighting would be authorized until 10.00 PM on the sports fields. The conceptual plan shows the new Exhibit Hall to be set back 100 feet from the San Dieguito River and eastward from its earlier location leaving room, it appears, for a hotel-condo project west of the exhibit hall in the future.
• Of greater concern is the application for a three story Health Club/Sports Training Facility, a four story parking structure on either the East Overflow Lot (EOL) or the Main Parking lot and semi-permeable paving of the EOL. The EOL and Golf Driving ranges are sites of the former San Dieguito River channel and meanders. A 22nd DAA funded Jurisdictional Delineation Report found that the EOL is the site of significant indicators of disturbed marshes and playas caused by the 22nd DAA relentlessly bulldozing and plowing under of wetland evidence.
Mandated by the State of California to promote agricultural interests, the Fairgrounds instead seems to be attempting to transform itself into a sports promoter by building a 60,000 sq. ft Health Club/Training Facility on a one acre lot, next to I-5 and a 4 story parking structure to service it. Using sensitive wetlands to support this development should sound an alarm. Sports facilities may be supported by the public but belong in areas of the County in need of development not in sensitive wetlands already threatened by over development and traffic congestion.