DEL MAR — Readers of the Del Mar Times may have spotted a paid advertisement in the paper’s Aug. 2 print edition, with the title, “Where The Surf Meets The Turd In Old Del Mar.”
The anonymous ad opposes the controversial Shoreline Protection Initiative, featuring a photo of a destroyed seaside home with the question “is this our future view from the Del Mar shoreline?”
The ad’s curator, a local resident who prefers to remain anonymous, also designed a website with the URL www.delmarcaus.com, posting his opinion on recent City Council actions; and links to various related news articles and council meetings.
The site and ad prompted action from Mayor Dwight Worden — who is running for a second term this election season — and City Council candidate Dan Quirk.
Worden and Quirk sent a Letter to the Editor to The Coast News on Sept. 12, opposing the “anonymous, personal attack,” and reiterating a resolution outlining fair campaign practices in Del Mar, which include “not (using) anonymous materials,” and “(disclosing) who is paying for campaign materials.”
In a separate phone call, Worden expressed concern about the tactics of “independent third parties who don’t need to follow the ballot pledge,” and called the URL — which closely resembles the city’s URL — “misleading.” The city’s URL is www.delmar.ca.us.
“They can really dirty the waters of the whole campaign process,” he said. “ … Dan and I are against the measure too — we’re on their side, but we strongly believe their tactics are inappropriate.
“There is a very strong case to be made against the measure he’s talking about without calling someone a turd or remaining anonymous,” Worden said.
The letter has not been published, as The Coast News will not be publishing editorials submitted by candidates during the election season.
The Shoreline Protection Initiative aims to exclude the shoreline protection area — a public thoroughfare — when calculating the allowable size of oceanfront homes, minimizing allowed development. The initiative was started by Rick Thompson, who owns an approximately 6,550-square-foot oceanfront home. Thompson was able to garner enough signatures to qualify the initiative for the November ballot. On Aug. 6, the City Council voted 3-1 to put the measure on the ballot, although all present at the meeting agreed to write an argument opposing said ballot. The council’s other options would have been to adopt the ordinance as written, or seek declaratory relief from the court.
If voters decide to support the initiative, a resulting ordinance could have unintended consequences, such as preventing property owners from rebuilding their homes to their previous size if they are more than 50 percent destroyed. Twenty-eight of the 92 private beachfront properties in Del Mar would be affected.
The Del Mar Times ad did not explicitly refer to Thompson, but to “an out-of-town billionaire who owns one of the largest mansions along Del Mar beach.”
When contacted via phone call, the anonymous curator said he is “not politically motivated,” but rather “a voice in the community that needs to be heard.”
He said he has more than one property that would be affected by a shoreline protection area ordinance and is concerned about other properties he has in Del Mar that “would be affected if (City Council) continues to pass restrictive policies and ordinances.”
When asked why he chose to use a URL that closely resembled the city’s, he responded, “I went online and did a search, and that URL was available.”
The curator recently posted an addendum to his site reading “This website www.delmarcaus.com was created by a concerned resident of the city of Del Mar who is not running for any political office and has no affiliation with anyone that is.”
“(Worden and Quirk) may not have liked how I worded (the ad), but most of that information was in the public domain,” he said, over a phone call. “If the City Council is going to take a position that has no meaningful value to the citizens of Del Mar and only serves to financially hurt homeowners, citizens need to understand this.”