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Doing things right: The Del Mar story

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
November 11, 1999


I love Del Mar. As far as municipalities go, Del Martians have got their stuff together. Considerably more astute then their colleagues in Carlsbad and Solana Beach, the Del Mar City Council is insisting that environmental concerns be placed front and center when transportation planning is done. In unison, the Del Mar City Council is demanding a comprehensive EIR be conducted for any expansion of the existing LOSSAN rail corridor. This is a good thing.

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of attending a gathering in Del Mar, the sole purpose of which was to support the re-election of Supervisor Pam Slater. About this time I am sure you are wondering what a tree-hugging EarthFirst supporting, Green Party member was doing rubbing elbows with a room full of well heeled republicans. Well to make a long story short, networking. I will now go on record and admit that some republicans do care about the environment. I actually enjoyed myself.

The conversation was about mass transit and the stalled freeway paradigm. Like the ghost it is, the Highway 680 redux was also on everybody's mind. And why not? Accommodating more vehicle traffic is not in Del Mar's best interests. Nor is ignoring the fact that the bluffs in that city can no longer support rail traffic. Any attempt to double track the rail corridor will come at severe environmental expense. It will also require millions of dollars. The question is why should taxpayers pay to expand failing infrastructure when that same money can be invested in new technology as we prepare for the 21st century.

Saving the environment is good for business. Providing business with state-of-the-art transportation alternatives, is good for the environment. Continuing to chain ourselves to a technology that is spewing massive amounts of toxins in to the atmosphere, polluting both earth and ocean, is good for nothing but our ultimate demise. That is why I get so upset when we start talking about adding lanes to I-5. When will we admit that this experiment is dead. For business to survive it must be willing to change with the times, why this does not apply towards transportation planning is beyond me.

Beside the Pam Slater shindig in Del Mar, I also attended the Encinitas Council coup and a SANDAG "Region 2020" workshop last week. What I got from the 2020 meeting is that perfect vision is no longer required. Regardless of how many people who stood up and asked for SANDAG to stop pussy footing around and fund the analysis of transportation alternatives such as Maglev trains, light rail, and monorails, those hosting the meeting, Joe Kellejian and Ramona Finnilla kept talking about widening freeways and adding another North/South Freeway to coastal North County. When one woman stood up to ask why 30 years of calls for mass transit have gone unheard, Joe Kellejian, currently representing the city of Solana Beach said, "Light rail and monorail is the idea of the public, and has not been planned." Finally we begin to hear the truth.

On the other hand, at the Policy Advisory Committee subcommittee meeting for SANDAG's North Coast Transportation Study, held in Del Mar on the previous Friday, those speaking in favor of mass transit have proof that they had actually been heard. With the majority of the subcommittee voting to advise against any further consideration of any arterial highways cutting across the Los Penasquitos Preserve and the vast tracts of MSCP land that has been put aside for environmental conservation purposes. Again, let me go on record and say that some elected officials actually do hear and respond to environmental concerns. Sadly that list is still quite short.

In Encinitas, certain members of the City council have selective hearing and a vision that extends only six months. Another topic at the Del Mar shindig was James Bond's grabbing the title of Mayor from Sheila Cameron. Consensus over cocktails was that the Encinitas coup was all about councilmember Bond being able to place the title of Mayor before his name when he filed as a candidate for the 74th State Assembly District seat. I guess with a name like James Bond, after awhile you start to believe you can get away with anything.

Personally I like this hobnobbing thing, not only do you get exposed to caterers who provide vegan options, but you also get to meet cool people who are doing good things for the environment. The host of the Pam Slater fund-raiser decided if he wanted to save Costa Rican cloud forests, he would have to buy some. Which is exactly what he did. How cool is that?  Imagine what could happen if the Republican Party actually took the lead in promoting sustainable environmental policy. The implications are mind-boggling.

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