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Council addresses issues of weapons, waste and oversight

DEL MAR — City Council members were set to take a stand on guns, garbage and governance at the Feb. 4 meeting. 

But after discussing three separate resolutions to support an assault weapons ban, oppose permits for the Gregory Canyon landfill and recommend local authority over the Del Mar Fairgrounds, only one resulted in what is traditionally a unanimous vote.

Mayor Terry Sinnott, the dissenter in a 4-1 vote to support the federal Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, said he had four “mental blocks” while considering what action to take on the resolution that would indicate the city’s support of Senate Bill 150.

“I first had a very strong emotional reaction that I wanted to support whatever we could do to reduce gun violence,” he said. “I’m worried that the Senate bill … will not work.”

Sinnott said in addition strengthening background checks, decreasing access to assault weapons and safely storing guns; there needs to be a greater focus on how to treat and care for the mentally ill.

He also said there is a need for reform in the media’s approach to these crimes. “I hope the individuals who commit these horrible crimes are not spotlighted,” he said, adding that he fears the attention may motivate others to act similarly.

“I think there also needs to be extreme penalties for people who do crimes with guns,” he said, and there needs to be increased security in public places.

The bill bans the sale, transfer, manufacturing and importation of all semiautomatic rifles and pistols that use detachable magazines and have at least one military feature.

It also bans all semiautomatic rifles and handguns that have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds, semiautomatic shotguns with various capacities, ammunition feeding devices that can accept more than 10 rounds and 157 other specific firearms.

Additionally, the proposed new law requires background checks on sales and transfers of a grandfathered assault weapon, prohibits the sale or transfer of large-capacity ammunition feeding devices and imposes a safe storage requirement for grandfathered firearms to keep them away from those who aren’t allowed to own guns.

“The level of gun violence in this country is at a totally unacceptable level,” Councilman Don Mosier said. “There’s a lot more to do.

“This resolution is just a start,” he said. “An assault weapon ban will not cure everything that is associated with gun violence but I think it’s an important step… You’ve got to take whatever steps you can in this kind of situation to move forward.”

A resolution urging the Army Corps of Engineers to deny Clean Water Act permits for the Gregory Canyon landfill was continued to a future meeting after new Council members Al Corti and Sherryl Parks said they didn’t have enough information to make an informed decision on behalf of the residents.

A resolution opposing the site was adopted in 2004. A letter restating the city’s position was submitting for a public hearing in 2011 and another one was sent recently to the Army Corps reflecting the Council’s prior stance.

Mosier said there was public input before the 2011 letter was drafted. The main difference with the current resolution is it is directed to the Army Corps of Engineers.

“I’d like to have some more information as to understanding the community input and the direction they would like us to take,” Corti said.

Parks said she planned to abstain from voting, but was told by the city attorney that municipal law precludes her from doing so unless there is a conflict of interest.

Council voted 3-2 to continue the discussion, with Mosier and Councilwoman Lee Haydu opposed.

A resolution to show the city’s commitment to a governance model for the Del Mar Fairgrounds passed unanimously.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors in October agreed to explore potential partnerships with the 22nd District Agricultural Association, which operates the fairgrounds, to establish local control over the agency, free it from state interference and increase transparency.

While most activities at fairgrounds take place within the boundaries of Del Mar, the resolution acknowledges those events, such as the San Diego County Fair and annual horse races, serve the entire region.

The resolution states the city’s “desire to ensure the continued successful operation” of those and other events “while taking into account the well-being of the surrounding communities and the preservation of the environmentally sensitive San Dieguito Lagoon and River.”

The resolution establishes the city’s support of the concept of regional governance over fairgrounds’ operations so the mission of the state-owned facility can be maintained and a partnership can be developed to work on issues of mutual interest.

The resolution recommends the governance model include representation from Del Mar, Solana Beach and the city and county of San Diego in partnership with the 22nd DAA “to achieve the best representation of impacted jurisdictions.”

Corti asked why the resolution didn’t also indicate the city’s desire to require the 22nd DAA be compliant with the Del Mar community plan.

“If we make this resolution more like it’s for us they will not want to work with us,” Haydu said.

“We’re trying to work together as a community.”