Dan Quirk takes credit for a long list of achievements he claims have been accomplished “since winning the election,” claiming credit for himself, Martinez, Druker and Gaasterland. In fact, many of the achievements he takes credit for occurred before his arrival on Council in early December 2020. Here are some of the achievements Quirk claimed for himself and the new council in a Nov. 8 mass email, followed by our fact check.
Claim: The start of three utility undergrounding projects (after zero the previous four years)
Fact check: Mostly false. Prior to Quirk’s election, the Council had approved and started design and planning work for two utility undergrounding projects, 1A and X1A. Work on these two pilot projects was actively in progress until the pandemic-related financial crisis caused the Council (including Druker and Gaasterland) to pause that work in April 2020. With Measure Q funds having partially recovered, the Council recently resumed work on 1A and X1A.
It is true that the new council added a small third project (Tewa). As the Sandpiper has previously reported, Tewa was approved in violation of the Council-adopted scheduling priority for neighborhoods. delmarsandpiper.org/2021-07-26-news/
Claim: A good shot at beginning construction on the lagoon trail extension next year
Fact check: Construction is likely to begin no sooner than Aug. 2023, and Quirk inaccurately takes credit for this project.
The $50,000 in the City’s budget for this project, River Path Del Mar Phase 3, was eliminated from the budget in April 2020 due to the Covid-19 financial crisis, an action that was supported by the entire Council, including Druker and Gaasterland. The record does not show any action on Quirk’s part (as a private citizen) to advocate keeping this project in the budget.
The Del Mar Foundation identified this as an important open space program and granted $50,000 to the City to keep this project moving forward during the pandemic, to complete the environmental work necessary for permitting and construction. The San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy solicited and donated an additional $40,000 to replace City funds removed from the prior year’s budget for this project.
Credit for the fact that work on this project has continued during the pandemic, with environmental work now close to completion, is due to the Foundation, SDRVC and other donors, and to the City’s professional staff and contractors. The role played by Councilmembers Druker and Gaasterland was limited to accepting the grant and other donations, and the public record does not reflect any significant role played by Quirk.
It is highly unlikely that construction will begin next year. The tentative schedule shows construction in August-December 2023 – and that schedule assumes that Coastal Commission approval will occur in a 7-month time frame, though one year is more typical. (Schedule source: Public Works presentation to Council, Nov. 15 and 19, 2021)
Claim: An amazing new interim city manager
Fact check: The Interim City Manager is highly regarded, but actions by Quirk and other council members have jeopardized the Manager-Council relationship.
The fact that the City Council agenda, during Interim City Manager Ashley Jones’s tenure, has at least twice included items relating to the respective roles of the Council and the City Manager suggests a recurring problem relating to the new council’s ability to stay within bounds, without interfering with the Manager’s defined role. And, as previously reported by the Sandpiper, the new council paid an extra $31,880 to terminated City Manager CJ Johnson (on top of the $120,000+ the City paid her for early termination of her contract), after her attorney alleged that certain Council members had violated her contract by interfering with her authority. delmarsandpiper.org/2021-03-001/
Claim: A completed 5th Cycle Housing Element and a successfully submitted 6th Cycle Housing Element
Fact check: Yes, the 5th Cycle element was completed once the new council voted FOR rezoning of the North Commercial District (NC) and Watermark after campaigning AGAINST those rezonings. And the 6th Cycle Housing Element, which has not yet been approved by the Department of Housing and Community Development, was “successful” in designating portions of North Bluff as the alternate (“contingency”) site for upzoning to 20-25 dwelling units per acre, accommodating approx. 250 units. This was after the Gaasterland-endorsed slate of Druker and Martinez campaigned as the candidates who could be trusted to protect North Bluff from high-density development. This contingency takes effect if the Council does not achieve a binding agreement for affordable housing at the Fairgrounds within 3 years.
Claim: An amicable agreement to withdraw and resolve the petition by the Del Mar Community Hillside Association
Fact check: Of course this was amicable, since Quirk, Gaasterland and Martinez all served as circulators of the petition to challenge the City’s adopted NC rezoning that was required by our Housing Element, and Gaasterland then served as the City’s lead in negotiating an agreement with the Hillside Association to “resolve” this referendum and lawsuit against the City, without ever publicly disclosing that she had in fact served as a circulator of the petition. So, Quirk wants credit for the new council for “resolving” a problem that they actively worked to create.
Claim: Objective design standards for by-right development
Fact check: Barebones objective design standards, which do not apply to the pending Watermark project, were created and approved in an extremely rushed fashion that bypassed the normal process for public input, with the DRB and Planning Commission given only a last-minute opportunity to comment on standards that were quickly drafted by the staff so that the new council majority would vote to approve the 5th Cycle and 6th Cycle actions necessary to gain compliance with state law. There is a program in the 6th Cycle to develop more complete objective design standards, but the process for those is in the very early stages.
Claim: Balance on the Design Review Board
Fact check: If balance means installing someone whose prior DRB experience was a DRB action to require her to correct her non-permitted project that violated the DROs; and installing those who have worked to oppose and weaken the Design Review Guidelines, then yes, balance has been achieved.
Claim: A sea level rise adaptation plan that works for Del Mar
Fact check: The Adaptation Plan was adopted by a prior Council, in Oct. 2018, two years before the election of Quirk and Martinez. Credit for the adoption of the Plan goes to the 2018 Council (Mayor Worden, Deputy Mayor Druker, and Councilmembers Haviland, Parks and Sinnott), and to the STAC committee, which was chaired by Terry Gaasterland.
Claim: A rapidly rebounding and thriving business community
Fact check: Streetscape and the new Civic Center are the biggest investments the City has made in recent times to improve the downtown business district – making downtown more walkable and attractive, providing significant free parking and public activity at the southern end of downtown – and these accomplishments were achieved under prior Councils. Streetscape was a long-time high priority for Del Mar’s business community, strongly supported by DMVA and the Business Support Advisory Committee. Of the current Council, only Druker and Worden were on the Council when these major projects were accomplished. And both of these projects were criticized by Quirk in his campaign materials.
Revitalization of the Del Mar Plaza occurred after a prior Council approved revisions to the Plaza Specific Plan to allow these improvements to take place, including improved signage, parking revisions, increased activation and usage of the main outdoor plaza area, and major revisions to the space now occupied by Monarch. Covid-19-related adjustments, developed by the Council in collaboration with the business community (temporary use permits, signage, outdoor dining, etc.) were approved by the Council in 2020, pre-Quirk and Martinez.
Claim: An intelligent proposal to modernize and improve our parking codes for businesses
Fact check: Partially true. At the Council meeting on Nov. 19, 2021, the Council approved a change in parking requirements favorable to certain businesses, changing a requirement for one parking space per 90 sq. ft. to one per 200 sq. ft. But the new council was split on this decision: Quirk was somewhat dismissive of concerns about the impact of “spillover” parking affecting residential neighborhoods, and he and Gaasterland supported a “one per 300 sq. ft.” change, whereas Druker, Martinez and Worden expressed concern about “spillover” impacts, and supported the “one per 200 sq. ft.” standard, which was ultimately adopted unanimously. Other parking changes, including Plaza-related changes, and the ability to have a custom-made parking plan for one’s business, were all adopted by the Council pre-Quirk, so his claim for credit for the new council is off-base for these changes.
Claim: A rapidly improving City budget and financial position
Fact check: The City’s financial crisis, which began in 2020, and recent improvements in the City’s financial position, are both attributable to Covid-19 impacts on the City’s sales tax and hotel tax revenues, and the ability of the Fairgrounds and local businesses to recover from those impacts.
Claim: $3 million in additional funding for the Camino Del Mar bridge replacement
Fact check: Credit for this funding, which is a County grant, goes to County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer.
Claim: A stay on the train fence for the time being, and vigorous efforts to stop it
Fact check: While NCTD has voluntarily deferred its fencing plan to engage in negotiations with the City Manager and Coastal Commission representatives, Quirk, who serves on NCTD’s Board as Del Mar’s representative, can point to no efforts on his part as an NCTD Board member that have changed NCTD’s plans to install fencing. At one NCTD Board meeting, he skipped the meeting, where a fencing study was on the agenda, and instead spoke to protesters and activists outside. Quirk’s “vigorous efforts” to date have resulted only in a warning letter that continued violations of the Brown Act, with respect to his NCTD Board service may result in referral to the Attorney General or the Fair Political Practices Commission. And on Nov. 18, NCTD took actions to expedite its fencing plans. delmarsandpiper.org/2021-11-21-news/
Claim: Increased public awareness about the great costs and incredible failures of the Coaster train
Fact check: Quirk’s constant criticisms that narrowly focus on the Coaster as if it were the sole reason there are train tracks through Del Mar are extraordinarily destructive to Del Mar’s regional standing and its need to work collaboratively with regional entities such as NCTD and SANDAG to successfully address complex transportation and railway track issues of great importance to Del Mar. Quirk’s Coaster fixation is not focused on improving public use of mass transit, which would be a worthwhile effort consistent with Del Mar’s Climate Action Plan. Rather, his attacks are focused on a quixotic mission to “resolve” the serious issues relating to the train tracks on Del Mar bluffs by eliminating trains – contrary to Council-approved positions supporting relocating the tracks off the bluffs, and supporting SANDAG’s regional transportation plan, which has significant train and mass transit components. An Oct. 2021 letter to SANDAG authorized by the City Council states, “the City Council understands and recognizes the importance of the Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor as it supports interstate passenger and freight, and commuter rail operations and is part of the U.S. Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET).” Quirk’s regular attacks on the Coaster and NCTD’s core mission undermine the City’s relations with NCTD at a time when the City faces critical issues that require effective collaboration with NCTD in order to achieve the City’s interests.
See the forthcoming December issue for pro/con articles on trains by Deputy Mayor Worden and Council member Quirk.
Claim: Increased public awareness of the remarkable technology advances coming with clean electric vehicles and how they will help us to address climate change and improve transportation, transit, and freight on the roads
Fact check: With all due respect to Quirk, Del Mar has had a very high awareness with respect to clean electric vehicles and other technology to address climate change. Many priorities relating to these issues are part of our Climate Action Plan, adopted well before Quirk’s election to Council, and Del Mar residents have achieved an extremely high rate of clean vehicle use. The City’s Sustainability Advisory Board, which has been effective in taking the lead on sustainability and climate change action in Del Mar and by the City, has been sidelined throughout Quirk’s tenure on the Council.