Fletcher Cove Community Center Debacle On Feb. 11 Ballot
Monday, February 3, 2014
Emotions are running high in the small beach community of Solana Beach.
The debate centers on the Fletcher Cove Community Center, a tiny building shaped like a one-room schoolhouse, precariously perched on the bluffs overlooking its namesake.
The crux of the fight over Proposition B is what restrictions should be applied to special events permits that open the scenic community center for private events, such as wedding parties or baby showers.
Proponents of the measure say the public should be allowed to use the center two out of three weekend days, stay till 10 p.m. and not be restricted on how many drinks they can consume. They say, after all, citizens helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars so the building could be renovated for public use. They don’t like restrictions to how it can be used added by the city council.
“The proposition that we are supporting is pretty simple,” said Richard Moore, who supports Proposition B. “It has basically several requirements, one of which is that the usage of the facility be subject to the Solana Beach municipal code, as are the other facilities throughout the city here.”
But opponents of Proposition B, which includes Solana Beach's entire city council, say it's not that simple. They oppose it for a number of reasons, such as lack of parking, and noise late at night that would disturb the citizens in surrounding neighborhoods.
“I guess that means at age 84, I'm one of the party people here.” Prop B supporter Moore joked.
The measure has ballooned in cost already. Had it been on the regular ballot, it would have cost taxpayers about $10,000. Now that it's the subject of a special election, it's going to cost Solana Beach $200,000.
Opponents say the major sticking point is that if this measure passes, it becomes a law that can only be changed again by a vote of the people. That's what the city would do well to avoid, Solana Beach Deputy Mayor Lesa Heebner said.
“We're stewards of the budget,” she said. “It's our job to listen to everybody and make the right policies. So we're doing our job by listening to people and starting with the policy that was a compromise between all disparate interests — and see how it goes.”
This all sounds like how town hall democracy works. But the city council compromise crafted last year was too restrictive for Prop B supporters. Now the issue has become so bitter and divided that people are crossing the street to avoid one another. Every week, another flurry of letters appears in the local newspaper.
According to opponent Allen Frisch, that's because supporters of the measure engineered the costly special election to flex their political muscle. He said former political players have specifically chosen to push the controversy as a wedge issue.
“They have a very vicious attitude,” Frisch said, “ a vendetta, against the current council, particularly certain council members. They have chosen this issue to show they still have power.”
But core Proposition B supporter Mary Jane Boyd said they simply want to have the center open to the community, the way it was intended.
“We've given them money,” she said, “we've rebuilt the building. It's perfect. And we want to be able to use it. And so that's how the initiative came forth.”
One thing everybody does agree on — they hope that after the election, whatever its outcome, things can go back to normal in their peaceful seaside city.