Recently I had the dubious pleasure of attending a North Coastal Transportation Policy Advisory Committee meeting for the San Diego Association of Governments. This SANDAG committee is made up of representatives from Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, and the County. The meeting was a clear example of government at it's most surreal.
On February 11th, a small crowd gathered to address the North Coastal Transportation Policy study group regarding agenda item #5. At issue was a letter signed by members not in agreement with the committee majority, SANDAG staff, and ample public testimony, in the decision to eliminate from further consideration new arterial roads connecting Camino Ruiz across the San Dieguito River to either Melrose or Twin Oaks Valley Road, or both. At issue was a letter signed by SANDAG representatives Marion Dodson, Joe Kellejian, Matt Hall, and Betty Harding.
Never once in this letter did it mention that SANDAG staff found that environmental impacts, primarily habitat, would be considerable if this "Y" configuration was bulldozed through habitat set aside by the Multiple Species Conservation Program. It also did not mention that several state and federal agencies have voiced their opposition to any roads bisecting these endangered habitats.
At the meeting, when it came time to discuss the letter calling for an expanded regional committee and a new round of studies, Joe Kellejian stated that he would like to limit discussion of the "Y" alternative letter without mentioning the roads configurations mentioned in the desperate request to keep the ghost of Highway 680 on the table. Did I mention that this letter was typed on City of Solana Beach letter head?
The letter was an embarrassing attempt at double talk, which was very clear in it's suggestion that more studies and a larger committee were needed. Joe Kellejian trying to manipulate public input, showed exactly where his allegiances were. The question we should ask ourselves is; Why are Solana Beach councilmembers Marion Dodson and Joe Kellejian are so intent on resurrecting Highway 680. What has native habitat done to draw such contempt from these elected officials? And do the citizens of Solana Beach realize what their SANDAG representatives are doing on Friday afternoons?
In my humble opinion Marion Dodson explains it best. In the County of San Diego voter information pamphlet Candidate Marion is quite candid about her priorities. "The second thing I will do is put an end to the county eliminating roads from transportation plans. We need more roads, not less!" Marion goes on to complain about unchecked growth, even while encouraging in word in action to see that urban sprawl spreads to unincorporated areas reserved for species preservation.
Doesn't Ms. Dodson understand the arterial roads she is advocating will only provide infrastructure to support future growth. With roads will come stripmalls and convenience stores, $tarbucks and McMurder King. And Ms. Dodson and Mr. Kellejian must think everyone stupid not to see that as soon as the roads are built SANDAG will call for homes to be built along these new transportation corridor to accommodate the million new residents SANDAG is planning for.
Unwilling to play Dodson and company's game any longer, the meeting ended for lack of a quorum when Del Mar Councilmember David Druker and Encinitas representative Chuck DuVivier left the meeting. Hopefully the "roads at all cost" crew will get the hint, give up their quest, and realize that spreading cement throughout the county is no longer an option. Talk about out of touch with reality, Marion and Joe seemed nothing more than poster children for cluelessness.
Writing this column I came across something completely unknown to me, something I have yet to hear mentioned whenever SANDAG representatives talk about the inevitability of growth in the region. At the website for the San Diego Association of Governments- www.sandag.cog.ca.us, I discovered evidence that proves this governmental agency is actually in the business of promoting unsustainable growth. Talk about conflict of interest.
Since 1982, SANDAG has operated SourcePoint- a nonprofit corporation offering specialized information services and analyses to private business and other agencies. Services provided by SourcePoint corporation include tailored growth projections, market studies, fiscal and transportation analyses, demographic profiles. Managed by a board of directors composed of three locally elected officials and two business leaders, SANDAG staff performs the work for SourcePoint, with revenue being reinvested into both SourcePoint and SANDAG programs.
Intrigued by the thought of three elected officials presiding over a corporation responsible for growth projections, I had to know who. Low and behold, and not surprisingly, Marion Dodson is on the SourcePoint board of directors. So this is why Marion is so determined to force arterial roads onto county owned land that is designated MSCP open space. It seems she is no longer working for the people of Solana Beach, and has set her eye on a bigger piece of the pie.