The Coast News Group

Budget woes plagued Surfside City in its infancy

DEL MAR — In 1959, two years after Del Mar was incorporated, some residents and mostly the business community decided the city wasn’t cutting it under the Lakewood Plan and its meager 65 grand operating budget. Volunteers who had promised to carry the load found other pastimes and a paid staff became inevitable.
Solution? Annex to San Diego, some residents opined, and a committee headed by Frank Strauss, then president of the chamber, was organized. Eugene Price was the veep.
Not so fast, said volunteers who had worked diligently to bring about incorporation. They formed “Save Del Mar” with John Hogan and Earl Maas who later became a superior court judge at the helm. Tom Pearson, who was a rather new resident, immediately became active to save the city. He later became the only five-term mayor.
Behind the scenes San Diego’s movers and shakers were salivating at the possibility of bringing the fairgrounds and particularly the racetrack under their jurisdiction.
Most everyone voted on April 10, 1962, and the results were overwhelming. There were 999 ballots cast to remain a city and 383 opposed.
The election was also significant in that Betty Bossert was the first woman to be elected to the council succeeding John Gray, who after only seven months in office decided the responsibilities were too challenging.
Now more than four decades later, council electeds get along fine with San Diego but continue to have intermittent spats with the fairgrounds and on more than one instance the fairgrounds has threatened to secede similar to state parks that are within city boundaries but remain autonomous like in Encinitas and Carlsbad.