Community Commentary: Fairground’s proposed changes going wrong way

My husband and I have spent hours reading through the massive two-volume 4,500-page draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed changes to the master plan for the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Our initial effort was to see if the new draft EIR had considered any of the comments about the need to re-establish a train stop directly at the fairgrounds, north of the San Dieguito River, something that has been in their master plan since 1985.
What we found was that not only were their comments from a broad range of mayors, community groups, the San Diego city attorney, and of course us, about the need for the train stop ignored in the new draft EIR, but we heard similar complaints that criticism of other proposed changes, which were strung on the community for the first time last April 2008, which were offered by many other groups were also ignored. So much for due process.
The fair board clearly intends to pursue what other locals are calling “the Las Vegas-izing” of the fairgrounds. And while the 90-day comment process, which closes Jan. 8, 2010, is apparently legal, it clearly is not adequate to truly consider what needs to be done at “our” fairgrounds.
So I offer the following in the hope that The Coast News readers will join in submitting written comments to the fair board (technically the 22nd District Agricultural Association — 22nd DAA) before the comment period closes.
We already have a wonderful convention center in downtown San Diego — which is supported by adequate hotel space. We do not need another convention center at the Del Mar Fairgrounds!
In a country faced with an epidemic of obesity, what we do need is a place where we can educate our youth and reeducate our adults regarding healthy living and healthy eating. This includes teaching how to plant and grow your own produce, how to conserve water, and how to conserve energy.
We need a sustainable living “learning center.” The fairgrounds in not only the best place — it is the only place in San Diego County where such an organized effort can take place.
Our fairgrounds, and it is “our” fairgrounds, with the adjacent lagoon and wetlands are locations where everyone, of all ages, can finally learn what “sustainable living” really means and have a fun time in the process.
But our 22nd “Agricultural” District can’t seem to sort out the “agriculture” from their proposals for condo-hotels, health clubs and spa, high-rise office towers and multiple-story exhibit halls with ballrooms and convention meeting centers, and lighted athletic fields on top.
We will never solve America’s problems or California’s problems until we learn to balance our consumption with the reality of resource availability.
Those lessons can be taught at these fairgrounds.
What we clearly need at these fairgrounds is to get rid of the old staff and board and bring in some new “teaching staff,” which will use this public space for the “public’s benefit,” not personal gain or personal profit.
The fair board should keep this EIR open for revision for another six months so we can fully develop such a plan. But they likely won’t. So every citizen of the county needs to write a comment to the 22nd DAA before the year’s end.
Just like on Sesame Street, the letters for today should be “P and B.” They should stand for Public Benefit — not the Profligate Boondoggle the fair board is proposing.
Take out your pen, North County, and tell the fair board how you feel.

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