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Opinion: The wonderful world of Zephyr

I thought I’d heard it all from the Zephyr Group with their recurring chants about the favor they’re doing us by bringing us 46 foot high rooftops (plus solar panels and elevator shafts to further diminish our views) and about 2,500 daily auto trips in, out and and around fair city, but the fourteen minutes of fun and fantasy their CEO brought to the most recent City Council Meeting in Solana Beach really got me thinking.

As I listened to him lambast the council for the city’s failed land use policies, which have “created a wall of condos that have blocked views and access to all but a select few,” I could only assume this fellow was either unaware or simply chose not to mention that the condos along Sierra were approved by the county well before Solana Beach had even incorporated as a city.

In fact, as was deftly pointed out by several council members, Solana Beach strategically incorporated in order to prevent any “ocean view grabs” remarkably similar to Zephyr’s proposal along our southern border.

Within his diatribe, the CEO labeled a respected council member an “elitist” for her “I have my view and you don’t deserve yours” attitude.

As far as I could tell, this was for having the audacity to provide her honest feedback that she could not, in good conscience, support a resort on the property that would seriously diminish or eliminate – ELIMINATE! – the ocean views of many constituents who invested their life savings in their homes and whose net worth would be dramatically impacted through the loss of those views.

The irony is obviously lost on the gentleman that it’s his company employing an elitist “I’ll take your view and make it mine in the name of profit” strategy.

One of my favorite quotes revolved around Zephyr’s vision of “a resort with no walls.”  I assume this was some symbolic reference to a proposed walking track around the property, but it was lost on me when I considered the folks at the south end of Sierra Street, whose new southwesterly view will consist of a 46 foot wall about 25 feet from their property line.

So long sunshine, sunsets, ocean views, and sweet ocean breezes for those suckers!  I guess those walls — along with those people, those investments, and those lifestyles — just don’t count for some reason.

I’m sure it’s not elitism, probably just the necessary collateral damage in the quest for profit.

After the council graciously granted him an extension to the ten-minute time limit, we were all encouraged to follow our beliefs and even fight against the Zephyr proposal “but fairly, and with honor” and not to “let misinformation be the guiding principal to your opposition” (he said that one twice so it must be important).

The irony struck me when I realized the misinformation he was spewing about Solana Beach’s land use policies, our “abhorrent” sea walls which, by the way, are not solely under the city’s jurisdiction and the council is precluded from preventing, and the sand restoration project that Solana Beach will enjoy.

Umm, I think that last one will play better in Del Mar next week, since they’re the ones getting the sand.

In his final solicitation for meaningful dialogue with the council, the CEO said he looks forward to starting discussions soon after the election of our new council members.  My suggestion would be to enter the room humbly, thank the council for voting you the Solana 101 Project, and start the conversation with an apology.

Kudos to our Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and all the council members for your patient professionalism.  The resolution you adopted at the end of the meeting represents the citizens of Solana Beach very well.

Steve Saunders, Solana Beach

1 comment

Carla Hayes December 5, 2018 at 7:39 pm

You are more than right, Steve, about the wonderful world of Zephyr. According to the Del Mar Times interview with Brad Termini on November 9, and all the Zephyr mailers, the “resort” will be built on 16.5 acres of the beautiful blufftop private land, thereby “opening the bluff top to the public for the first time in 100 years.”

However, we the people have climbed groomed trails to the bluff since 1971 through the James Scripps Nature Preserve that is approximately 4 acres, 2 on the bluff side and 2 on top. It’s pristine, beautiful, and peaceful–a gift from James Scripps and Helen Woodward to the City of Del Mar, designed to stop condo development on the bluff.

We have combed the San Diego County Assessor’s records to ascertain the exact acreage and ownership of thebuidable private parcels, which as it turns out total only 14.437 acres. Where are the remaining two acres?

Then we started reading the Del Mar Parks and Recreation meeting notes from August 8, 2018, where the Zephyr and the ex-city planner–Adam Birnbaum now consultant to Zephyr–were grilled extensively on what they would do with the park land. That seemed an odd line of questioning–what would they do? It’s not their land–so we thought.

Two acres remaining on the bluff top exist–the James C. Scripps Nature Preserve–a public park that maintains the ecosystem of fast-disappearing bluff habitat. Seems that the missing 2 acres were there all along. And we thought it was a park–silly villagers.

Who let the Grinch steal the Scripps Foundation park gifted to the City of Del Mar, and dishonor the legacy of James Scripps and Helen Woodward by giving Brad Termini two acres of public park land (worth approximately $9.2MM based on the Assessor rolls for other undeveloped bluff land)? Termini and Birnbaum want to turn the entire bluff top into private property, where the “resort” operator could decide to make the public pay for access. After all, Zephyr is a merchant builder, which means grab and go, as they build and then sell developments.

Now we know who owns the 2 acre parcel that Zephyr has folded into their “resort” plan–the City of Del Mar. Where next–Powerhouse Park? It’s closer to the sand and has no messy loud dogs and volleyball courts. Then maybe City Hall–now that’s not a bad idea, when you think about it.

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