Archives: Current Issues 2008
back to list

NOP Fairgrounds - FSDRV Response - (4/22/08)

From: J. M. Winterer and Ann Gardner           
Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley

Re: Comments on the NOP of a Draft Environmental Impact Report on for the proposed 22d DAA 2008 Master Plan.

 

Issues we wish to be analyzed by the EIR are marked by bullets (*): 

PROJECT SITE.

The current figure 1 (NOP for the EIR ) downplays the importance of public access to this coastal area and ends up disregarding many critical environmental concerns relating to public access to Coastal resources.

*  The location of the project should be shown on a regional map (larger than the NOP Figure 1 Page 20)  identifying the unique natural resources of the area that might be impacted: the 405-acre Fairground is framed and dwarfed by the 600 acres of properties owned or operated by the San Dieguito River Valley JPA and the California Department Fish and Games , a 22d DAA sister State agency. 

*  Also, on an enlarged regional Figure 1, we urge you to add to the Fairgrounds properties a clear identification of the San Dieguito Lagoon Restoration Project, wetland delineations (see our attachment 1: from the California Coastal Commission) on the Fairgrounds, the San Dieguito River Park including the location of its interpretive Center, the public trails identified as part of as the Park's Coast to Crest Trail system:
        * River Path, south of the River, facing the Fairgrounds
        * Coastal Boardwalk, southern edge of the South Lot and
        * The Crest Canyon Preserve Loop

* The observation platforms on the Boardwalk and at the Grand Avenue Bridge

The EIR must develop its plan in the framework of the California Coastal Act Section 30240 statement: “ Environmentally sensitive habitats areas shall be protected against significant disruptions of habitat values, and only uses dependent on those resources shall be allowed in this area.”

NORTH and SOUTH LOTS  Long Term:

Past correspondence between the State Land Commission documents that the State of California has jurisdiction and authority over all un-granted tidelands, submerged lands, and the beds of … rivers, sloughs… (See attachment 2:  letter from California  State Lands Commission to K. Giugno Consultant to the 22d DAA on Master Plan NOP). 

It is the opinion of this organization that the South lot and part of the East Lot are both historical and documented historical as well as presently active wetlands as defined in the Coastal Act: “Wetlands means lands within the coastal zone which may be covered periodically or permanently with shallow water and include saltwater marshes, freshwater marshes, open or closed brackish water marshes, swamps, mudflats and fens.”  Appendix 3:  a, b, c and 4 maps and photographs document this position.

*  The EIR should explain why it plans to make permanent use of the wetlands when repeated Coastal Commission  decisions oppose such use.

* The EIR should explain the future use of the Golf Driving Range, clearly a historical and present day wetland: see attachments 3a and 4.

NORTH and SOUTH LOTS  Short Term:

* This EIR should provide copies of the ORIGINAL documentary evidence that the Fairgrounds is permitted to use the wetlands properties during the Fair and Racing season as it claims.

* As it will take time to recover the wetlands at the edge of the Fairgrounds the EIR should address, the issue of the non-permitted use of these lots must be discussed (This is documented by the Coastal Commission Staff Report :Application 6-02-161 Adopted  08/08/2003) . The Fairgrounds has significantly expanded the use of these lots year around, 159 days more than the permitted use, an increase of 900 % in 2002.

* The EIR should analyze how the expanded use of these parking areas impacts the adjacent sensitive habitats of the San Dieguito River as required in the California Coastal Act  Section 30231 which requires that biological productivity and quality of the wetlands be maintained or enhanced.

READER BOARD.

The EIR should explain why the plan includes a two- sided electronic Reader Board along the freeway, when there is specific Federal legislation prohibiting such displays. Adjacent property owners along the I-5 corridor have been mindful of this legislation and respected its intent. The NOP states that the Fairgrounds property is owned by the State of California and not obliged to comply with local and zoning or general plans. But the prohibition of signage along freeways is a Federal law.

* Why doesn't the 22d DAA believe that it should not obey Federal laws? Does it plan to apply for an exemption? On what grounds?

SCENIC AND VISUAL QUALITIES.

The California Coastal Act Section 30251 states that:
“ The scenic and visual qualities of Coastal Areas shall be considered and protected as a resource of public importance. Permitted development shall be sighted and designed to protect views to and along the ocean and scenic coastal areas … to be visually compatible with the character of surrounding areas, and where feasible, to restore and enhance the visual quality of the degraded areas.”

The following features of the project are in marked contrast with the spirit of the Coastal Act:

* Numbers derived from the limited sketches provided in the NOP indicate that the project plans to build a continuous Hotel/Exhibit Hall building 1/3 a mile long and 5 stories (66.5 feet high)  to 7 stories ( 86.5 feet high). This assumes 12 feet is the standard height for a commercial building. This is a major wall!

* The project will locate its service road along the river, ignoring the scenic value of the     location.
The 60,000 sq.ft health cub ,75 feet high, is that of  6 story building in close proximity to wetlands. It offers recreational facilities totally unrelated to the coastal area.

* The EIR should provide (three-dimensional) elevation drawings as part of the EIR process (visuals) and plan to also erect storey poles to allow the public and the Coastal Commission to understand the visual impact of these structures on the environment and nearby preserves which are meant to provide a natural river/coastal/wetland environment.

PARKING

* The EIR should analyze, as an alternative, a location of the major parking structure on the west side of Jimmy Durante Blvd. to minimize the impact on the wetlands.  

* The EIR should analyze several probable scenarios when concurrent Fairgrounds events occur and the cumulative numbers of parking slots becomes an issue . These numbers must include parking for the staff which has no way to reach the Fairgrounds by public transportation.

TRAFFIC and PUBLIC ACCESS

* The EIR should discuss how the ever expanding schedule of major events will impact residential ingress and egress as well as public access to beach amenities in Del Mar (2.5 miles of sandy beaches with public restrooms and showers, a public bluff park with bluff-top walks to Torrey Pines State Beach). Described as one of the most beautiful destinations along the western coastline and to the San Dieguito River Park visitors amenities including the Grand Avenue Bridge observation deck and the 3 trails mentioned above. All of these regional amenities and public trail access are made inaccessible by increased traffic congestion during non- coastal related activities.

* The California Coastal Act as well as numerous local Community Plans emphasize the importance of preserving the San Dieguito River basin's recreation/open space potential. i.e.“ the highest priority in considering land use issue.” A specific goal of the Coastal Act is to “assure priority for coastal development  and coastal-related development over other development on the coast. The EIR must explains how this goal is achieved with sports structures and deck which can be developed anywhere and have no relationship to the coast.

CONCLUSION

This Master Plan EIR will represent the built-out phase of the Fairgrounds and should explain why all the development will occur in the short term and most of the service and environmental measures are long range plans.

    
Jacqueline Winterer, President
Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley           
289 Ocean View Ave                   
Del Mar CA 92014  

Ann Gardner, Vice President
Friends of the San Dieguito River Valley 
12971 Via Latina   
Del Mar CA 92014                        

<<