A group of Solana Beach citizens are mobilizing to protect public access to Fletcher Cove Community Center (FCCC) and adjoining Overlook Park, Fletcher Cove Park and nearby coastal resources.
The new group, Friends of Fletcher Cove, formed out of concern about the misinformation being disseminated to the community via spam emails, advertorial articles and paid signature gatherers by sponsors of a proposed voter initiative that forces the city to allow unrestricted private parties with unlimited alcohol at FCCC.
These targeted messages are misleading and crafted to sway voters into signing a petition that will force the city to hold a special election at a cost of $300,000
The initiative, if passed, will cause the total loss of already scarce public parking in the area of Fletcher Cove Park, the beach and FCCC on weekends. The resulting loss of parking will severely restrict public access to Fletcher Cove Park, the beach and the picnic and bluff-top viewing areas at Overlook Park.
Friends of Fletcher Cove filed a statement of organization with the city of Solana Beach to form a political action committee. If the initiative qualifies for a special election, the committee will be positioned to participate in the election. Also, on behalf of the Friends of Fletcher Cove, Kelly Harless requested that City Council put a competing initiative on the ballot in order to give the voters the opportunity to vote for a reasonable policy that will balance and protect public access and parking in the area around FCCC.
“Many of us have been talking with our friends and neighbors and we found that they do not have all the facts about the current daily uses at FCCC or the potential consequences the initiative will create,” said Kelly Harless, one of the group’s founders. “Also, many residents are not aware that the city has a new policy in place that allows residents of Solana Beach to rent Fletcher Cove Community Center on weekends for private parties that includes beer and wine.”
The Friends of Fletcher Cove support the City Council’s newly developed policy that will allow rental of the FCCC for private parties. The new use policy is a true compromise that sets reasonable rules that can be enforced and modified if problems arise. The city’s new policy allows for private rental of FCCC on alternating weekends and preserves public parking for access to the beach and parks in the surrounding area.
Unsatisfied with the city’s compromise on the FCCC use policy, the initiative sponsors will not budge an inch. At the Aug. 7 meeting they took an all or nothing position and threatened to pursue the initiative regardless of the city’s new compromise policy. Their initiative, if passed, quadruples frequency, doubles occupancy, allows unlimited alcohol consumption and amplified live music, uses all the public parking in the area and restricts public access to the areas adjacent to the building.
The initiative sponsors falsely claim FCCC is hardly used. However, the city’s own schedule for FCCC shows that every month throughout the year the facility is used daily, Monday through Saturday, often from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., including meetings on some nights lasting until 9:30 p.m. Uses before and after refurbishment of the facility include educational classes, meetings of nonprofit organizations, summer camp and many other public activities.
The initiative allows private parties of 100 people on Saturdays and Sundays every weekend of the year until 10 p.m. This intensive use will consume all available public parking in the area every weekend when the demand for parking is highest. This will restrict public access and the use of Overlook Park and Fletcher Cove Park.
The initiative will override city laws and cannot be modified by the City Council, even if it causes problems. For example, FCCC does not have any onsite parking, except two handicap spaces for access to FCCC and Overlook Park. Failure to provide parking for 100 people is a violation of the city’s own parking code, but the initiative creates an exception.
The Friends of Fletcher Cove and neighbors in the area support all of the existing public uses and support the City Council’s new compromise policy for private parties at FCCC. However, if problems arise, it is imperative that the city be able to modify the policy.
The voter initiative is a strong-arm tactic and its policies will create parking and safety issues in the area around FCCC. The Friends of Fletcher Cove believe this is the wrong way to establish a policy for use of this public asset.
Kelly Harless is a Solana Beach resident and member of The Friends of Fletcher Cove.