Kudos to the Del Mar City Council for following through with a promising start of a citizen involvement process concerning the proposed acquisition of the fairgrounds. The March Council workshop was designed to allow maximum involvement of those in attendance without the frustrating three minute rule which disallows reasonable interaction.
All Council members, the City Manager, and staff were in attendance giving information, but spending most of their time listening to questions, ideas, and advice from interested citizens. There seemed to be no blinding flash of insight from citizens, but there were wise words, smart questions, and cautionary advice. Those in attendance felt listened to and respected. All five Council members complimented citizens for the quality of their input. This was the “Del Mar Way” in action.
The Council has also decided to include this topic on every agenda for its regular Council meetings. Hopefully, this will keep Del Mar citizens tuned in to the fast changing developments in this complicated political negotiation. One worthy idea from the workshop was to form a citizen’s ad hoc advisory committee of community leaders including those with experience in such areas as business acquisition, financial management, municipal law, and environmental protection. Such a committee would be reassuring to the broad citizenry and could sponsor more open workshops.
We also think it would be a smart idea for the Council to answer some naysayers with a clear explanation of their financial analysis showing how we can operate the fairgrounds and pay off the debt service.
We believe this issue has the potential to transform our relationship with our biggest neighbor, the fairgrounds. Del Mar citizens have to get comfortable with how this will change our lives. The Council has a leadership responsibility to keep the citizenry at the table or as close as possible.
Ultimately, when we get near the finish line, there should be a process for every citizen’s voice to be counted, for or against the acquisition. In the meantime, more workshops, please!