Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Of Planes, School and Fairy Shrimp

The Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee met again last night in a meeting that ran double the time allotted.  It began at 6 and ran until 9:00 p.m. in a new venue, the Emergency Operations Center,  on a new day because of a schedule conflict with the General Plan meeting later in the week.

It's a good thing this one was held in a larger venue because more than 40 residents joined the committee and staffers and nearly packed the EOC.  Most of those residents were in the room to hear about the committee's ideas for the Southwest Quadrant of Fairview Park - the segment that includes plans for two improved entrances - off Pacific Avenue and Canyon Drive.

The meeting began with long time resident and member of the Harbor Soaring Society, John Rittenhouse, making a presentation about that organization, it's history, growth and contributions to the community.  Among the information he provided was that the membership of the HSS is around 85, but that 280 some flyers use the facility and all buy permits to do so.  He said the flyers contribute around $6,600 in permit fees each year.  He told the group that the HSS was a good citizen, spending many hours cleaning up the venue and engaging in community outreach.

Then came a presentation by teacher Denise Ogami of the Waldorf School that abuts the southern end of Fairview park.  She spent her time telling us of the very positive inpact Fairview Park has on the students at the Waldorf School - a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade private school on Canyon Drive, next to the park.  She spoke in glowing terms about the hours each week spent by the students in all grades enjoying the facilities in the park - mainly the tranquil, open spaces.

An enthusiastic crowd participated in the Public Comments segment of the meeting that began kind of mixed into the earlier segments.  Finally, they got the show moving and nearly a dozen speakers expressed concerns on issues like loud, drunken, drug-filled parties in the park near Pacific Avenue and concerns for slow police response times - if at all - to those events.  Residents were also concerned about potential increases in traffic on Canyon and Pacific if the improved entryways are installed.   Dr. Terry Welsch, President of the Banning Ranch Conservancy spoke about the need to protect the wildlife, and mentioned specifically the San Diego Fairy Shrimp.  This will be more relevant later.

The discussions went on and on so when it was time for Parks Project Manager Bart Mejia to lead the discussion on the Southwest Quadrant of the park it was already 7:30 - the designated stopping time.  The committee agreed to move forward.  Ingri Quon, a biologist from LSA Associates, spoke of the habitat in Fairview Park.  She told us of the history of Native Americans and the critters and vegetation in the park.  She discussed the Vernal Pools, indicating that over 90% of all vernal pools in southern California are now gone, which makes those in Fairview Park even more precious.

Then long discussions were held about the improvements planned for the entryways and more public comments ensued.  Most of the complaints continued to be about the location of the parking venues, lack of a bathroom near the planned new playground and the fact that some on the committee seemed interested in changing the character of the park from a passive park to one with more ball fields.  I suspect most of those present last night, and many more, too, will present themselves to the Parks and Recreation Commission at their meeting on Thursday night - when the new entryways will be revisited.  Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz and Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Byron de Arakal were on hand to answer questions.

Just befor the meeting ended Councilwoman Sandra Genis - a liaison for this committee - expressed concern for the protection being provided to the vernal pools - vernal pool #6 specifically.  She mentioned the requirement previously agreed upon by the Department of Fish and Game that all vernal pools would be protected from encroachment, and that the City would provide a 10 foot buffer between the edge of the pools and other uses.  When asked for the reference material she quoted chapter and verse from the appropriate codes.

Later she showed me photos of Vernal Pool #6, which had just had yellow markers installed that afternoon delineating the perimeter of the pool, one of those habitats for the San Diego Fairy Shrimp mentioned above.  Here are a couple of those photos, clearly showing the much-discussed decomposed granite (DG) trail that runs along the fence between the Waldorf School and Fairview Park.  This is the one Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger considers no big deal, and wonders why we're worrying about it at all.  He said, "there are more important issues in the community to debate than a dirt trail."  Well, as you can see, whomever the culprits were that built that trail installed it directly on top of vernal pool #6.  It's not even close!  This is no small matter.  It involves potentially severe penalties for the city and raises some serious legal problems for those responsible for the building the trail.  It's going to be interesting to see who steps up to admit building the trail now.
Before they adjourned the committee discussed the future meetings schedule.  Finally, it was agreed that future meetings will be held the first Wednesday of each month at a venue to be confirmed later.

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Anonymous where's my coffee? said...

I believe we all know who had that path put there. More than likely the same person who had hazardous waste removed from the Pop Warner storage unit, and caused the city to have to pay for it. Some of it even included red paint, the same color as the snack bar. This should not be a city expense.

8/20/2013 07:02:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Oh, it will be a city expense. Our tax dollars will pay for Jones Mayer to defend who did this. The City said they would follow the rules, and now they haven't.

8/20/2013 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Mary Ann O'Connell said...

Has anyone said what it will take, or if it's possible, to restore the vernal pool?

8/20/2013 10:28:00 AM  
Anonymous SusF said...

Geoff, I just looked at the map for the original master plan. The parking at the end of Pacific, with 10 spaces, is less than a quarter acre. And the tot lot is even smaller. The new plans do not show the scale, but the parking extends almost to the end of the first vernal pool along Canyon. The original plans shows the lot ends before the vernal pool starts. If the maps are to scale, the new parking lot and tot lots are at least 4 times the diameter of the original master plan. I wanted you to be aware of this, as you commented (in the Pilot?) that the city reported the plans being presented were in the original plans. Though it's true they were in the original master plan, they had a much smaller footprint. I've spoken to Bart at the city asking for the square footage/acreage of the new Parking and Tot lot. I'm hoping we can get those prior to Thursday's meeting.

8/21/2013 12:54:00 PM  

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