Editorial: Looking for Leadership

Del Mar is a different place than in 1976 when the Community Plan was finalized and approved by voters. But the city retains its distinctive character that sets us apart from our neighbors because of the foundation laid by our Community Plan. Generated by highly educated, energetic residents who volunteered their time and worked together and debated together to plan, it evolved out of “the community’s own consciousness of the need to preserve the environment and charm….” These futurists mapped in words and graphics how best to emphasize and retain the unique assets gifted to Del Mar. They envisioned our idea of Del Mar. Particular care was taken to keep Del Mar village-like and welcoming. (Links to the original 1976 CP and amended versions are here: bit.ly/delmarcp.)


The Community Plan has worked. Because of it Del Mar remains a special place on the planet. We have open space areas and public parks: Seagrove Park, Powerhouse Park and the Del Mar Bluff Preserve with the goal of preserving city parks rather than allowing commercial development. The lagoon, closed off from the 1940s till the 1970s when citizen activists opened it up, cleaned it up and stopped activities and development from degrading the wetlands. Most significantly, committed citizens supported the selection of the San Dieguito Lagoon for restoration by Southern California Edison as mitigation for SONGS, resulting in a $93 million restoration project that significantly fulfilled the CP’s goal of preserving the San Dieguito Lagoon.


Today, though the Community Plan is amended periodically as state law or current circumstances require, there is danger of its being eroded by challenges claiming that it is too old, outdated, or more subtly eclipsed by the daily monetization of every inch of the city at the cost of our signature trees and vegetation. Today, we also face major impending perils from climate change and with it a drought-depleted water supply, sea level rise, vanishing sand, and frequent wildfires. Some others: the risk of the trains toppling off our receding bluffs that will or will not be armored and/or fenced and the even more dire threat posed by the unstable nuclear plant just a few miles up the road. This is a time for intelligent, thoughtful leadership from our elected officials who can work collaboratively to seek solutions in sync with our Community Plan. 


As upcoming November elections start to get into gear, let’s look around and listen carefully to exactly what candidates promise lest the very charm that attracts people to Del Mar disappears.