Archives: Current Issues 2005

from Friends President, Ann Gardner

Dear Supporters,

On Wednesday, March 30, 2005, the Friends will unveil three interpretive signs at the Grand Avenue Bridge site as part of the Del Mar’s third annual Lagoon Day. Almost 20 years ago, the Fair Board tried to buy the site for a hotel and parking lot. The proposed development sparked public outcry, crystallized plans to save the Lagoon and jumpstarted preservation of land in the San Dieguito River Valley.

FSDRV Board members paint at Grand Ave. Bridge

Thanks to the early efforts and continued support of people such as you, the 55-mile long River Valley Regional Park and a restored Lagoon is becoming a reality. Over 60,000 of the Park’s 80,000 acres are now in public ownership and we expect the lagoon restoration project to get started later this year.

The Friends were incorporated by Alice Goodkind in 1986, just one year before the “Save the Lagoon” campaign erupted. We joined forces with the Del Mar Lagoon Committee, then led by Nancy Weare, organizing opposition to the development and support for the Lagoon. So, it is with great pleasure and a sense of gratitude to these early leaders that we are going to participate in the Lagoon Committee’s Lagoon Day celebration this year (see details below).

We also want to bring you up to date on our efforts during the last 12 months or so. Year 2004 was busy and, with continued pressures for development in North County, 2005 promises to be even busier. We are currently advocating for protection of the River Valley in these situations:

Plans to rezone property in a flood hazard area from residential to commercial;
A proposal to build 60 units on Via de la Ville’s steep hillsides where the hillsides are a recognized River Valley view shed;
The proposed Master Plan update for the fairgrounds and racetrack that includes new electronic signage west of I-5, a conference center and hotel and a new horse training facility on public open space next to the river; and
Sampling of water quality along the River. (In 2004, we discovered and reported unacceptable levels of bacteria to the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board; levels subsequently dropped to zero).

Last year we found it necessary to hire an environmental attorney to help us research and articulate a multiple year-old mitigation agreement and deed restriction so that we could advocate more effectively against a proposed land use. For now, the proposal has been withdrawn. The year before, we spent money to hire landscape architect, Lane Goodkind, to design a more environmentally sensitive site plan for the new learning center on Via de la Valle. Adjacent community groups and the River Park enthusiastically accepted the change. We also financed the first printing of “Birds of the San Dieguito Lagoon”, which cost over $5,000. The popular brochures are distributed to nearby libraries, wild bird centers and are used by schools for field trips to the Lagoon. This year, we plan to finance a much broader water-testing program to monitor the level of bacteria at a number of outlets along the river. Our advocacy activities do have a cost.

But, mostly, you are investing in, what one Board member called, “shoe leather” to obtain site plans, visit locations, shoot photos, attend community meetings, retrieve documents, testify at planning commission and city council meetings and serve on advisory groups representing your interest in protecting the River Valley.

Your contributions, which are approximately $2,000 a year, and a $1,000 grant from the Farmers Market, are the mainstays of our budget. Other fundraising efforts include an art sale that emphasizes local artists and environmental beauty. We incorporated an informational booth this year; both the art and the booth were very successful. We signed up new supporters and made $1,800 after expenses. Later this year, we will hold a silent auction to raise additional funds.

We hope we are meeting your expectations for the Friends. Please don’t hesitate to provide feedback or suggestions at our website,, or to The Friends, P.O. Box 973, Del Mar, CA. 92014.


The Grand Avenue Bridge was built during WWII to support a wartime airfield on the land in the middle of the lagoon. When the Lagoon Restoration Plan called for demolishing the Bridge to protect new nesting areas, Jacqueline Winterer, then President of the Friends, linked an attractive observation deck on the East Coast to the possibility of redesigning the Grand Avenue Bridge as a Lagoon observation/interpretive site. County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price allocated funding for the site’s redesign, including three interpretive signs, and the historic bridge was saved. The unveiling will take place at 3:30 p.m.

Thank you again for your support: with interest, with financial aid and with encouragement. We hope to see you on the 30th.