Del Mar needs a vigorous foreign policy. Many of our most difficult challenges and important decision options are made outside of the borders of our city.
Our city operates as one cog in a very intricate maze of governmental bodies. And most of our local ordinances, in order to be enforceable, need to be carefully crafted to be in compliance with regulations and policies issued by a huge number of state, federal, and regional agencies. Many of these bodies, such as SANDAG and NCTD, are led by leaders from other cities and the county. This is a very simplified description of the power structure which we need to understand and respect if we want to influence decisions that affect us. We need to be realistic that we operate from a low power position. So a strong foreign policy is needed for us to increase our influence outside of our borders.
For decades we have achieved much because our elected and appointed leaders employed “diplomatic” strategies and tactics in dealing with other jurisdictions. Their support was critical to getting what we need. How did we do it? We listened to their needs and interests. We supported their positions. We earned trust. We built alliances. We negotiated. We shared information. We compromised. The work was done in board rooms and offices, not on television, in newspapers and on social media. Grandstanding on tv may appeal to Del Mar voters but can be counter-productive for Del Mar’s interests with other jurisdictions.
It is uncomfortable to realize that there is a stereotype out there that Del Mar is a rich, white, over-privileged, elitist community that does not care about regional and state issues. Our foreign policy needs to overcome that image. We need to demonstrate that we care about issues outside of our borders such as energy, pollution, water, housing, nuclear waste, homelessness, transportation, and income inequality. The more we work on such issues, the more support we can get on our vital issues.
We need our leaders, as well as the rest of us, to act as ambassadors to the world outside of Del Mar.