Opinion/Letters to the Editor: June, July, August, September, October 2020


June 5 issue:

The new Cardiff Way

The Cardiff Way counsels students: “Be Honest.” Cardiff School District’s press release published in this paper on May 22, 2020 about a loan obtained for construction at Cardiff School makes clear they don’t practice what they preach.

The district’s statement claims that OGALS, the state agency overseeing the park conversion, “assured the District that no redesign was necessary … and that only the interference of these neighbors … caused a delay in the approval process.”

The district learned about the federal protection of Berkich Park in February 2018. The district initiated discussions with OGALS in March 2018 while forging ahead with plans it had already finalized to expand into the park. OGALS advised the district of the requirements for boundary adjustment, however, no application was submitted until February 2019. A month later, after OGALS forwarded the application to the National Park Service, the only agency authorized to approve a conversion, OGALS notified the district that their application was unlikely to be approved.

Junk e-mail folders are often filled with congratulations for winning millions in some sweepstakes. Some people are fooled, but wiser minds think, “wait – I didn’t enter any sweepstakes – how could I win?” With these claimed “assurances,” how is it possible for OGALS to assure approval if the district hadn’t even submitted the required application for review? Is it reasonable to believe a state agency with no approval authority for a federal program could assure approval?

In sworn deposition testimony, the district’s bond manager could not identify any documents, or even a single person, to corroborate these “assurances.” He also testified that the district never considered alternative plans to avoid building in the park – a prerequisite to submitting a conversion application. This testimony was confirmed by the project architect.

One might ask how the district finally gained approval from the NPS, more than two years after being asked to not expand into the park. The answer is that the district threatened to sue OGALS, giving them until close of business November 25, 2019 to approve the conversion. Not coincidentally, the approval signed by the district and OGALS on that very day includes the district’s promise not to sue OGALS or NPS.

“Be Honest” is not a policy practiced by the district. Topping it off with bullying, one hopes the children they are charged with educating know to do as they say and not as they do.

Eleanor Musick


June 19 issue:

Safe gun storage essential

With the closure of schools throughout San Diego, parents not only have the responsibility of keeping children safe from the spread of COVID-19, but also the dangers of unsecured firearms in the house.

Nearly 4.6 million children in the U.S. live in a household with at least one gun that is stored loaded and unlocked. Deadly unintentional shootings by children increased 43% in March and April compared to average gun deaths during the same two months over the last three years (Everytown For Gun Safety).

We need to be aware that children and teens with time on their hands are in danger of finding these weapons and causing another preventable, unintentional shooting.

Safe gun storage, including storing guns locked, unloaded or separate from ammunition, reduces rates of accidents or child firearm suicide.

We’re asking our neighbors to take extra precautions during this pandemic and to store their firearms safely.

Nancy Hardwick


Concerns about SDUHSD fall reopening options/lack of mask requirement

The letter below was sent to the San Dieguito Union High School District board, superintendent and San Dieguito Academy principal. It was also submitted to this newspaper for publication. The letter was submitted Saturday, June 13 so timing references in the letter are referenced as of that date.

I received the survey with the options for the fall. I am very concerned by a couple of points noted for these options:

I am troubled that students will not be required to wear masks. (Followup from this letter’s author: The superintendent sent a lengthy reply to me, noting that “no final decisions have been made.”) Allowing students to forego face coverings is a significant and unnecessary risk to the teachers, students, and their families’ health. Numerous scientific studies support wearing masks as an effective way to reduce the risk of transmission, and the county health department has ordered that “All persons… shall wear [a] face covering whenever… within six feet of another person who is not a member of their family or household.”

Also, I noticed in the new survey sent this week that it says that if you pick the remote/hybrid option, not all classes may be available. Could you offer the opportunity to be remote when possible, but come to campus just for the courses that require it (with masks)? We are concerned that if we select this option out of concern for the safety of our family, that you will prevent our son from taking some classes that he may want or need. It is frustrating to have to choose between our family’s safety and access to courses that may be important to his education.

I would also request that you provide a more visible outlet for parents to give feedback. I only learned of ThoughtExchange from the the Solana Beach Sun article this week. When I read the article, I searched for and found the link at the bottom of an email titled “Superintendent’s Update”; the nonobvious placement of the ThoughtExchange link in the email and the lack of mention of a request for input in the email subject line made this opportunity very easy to miss. And this ThoughtExchange link now says, “This exchange is now complete” and won’t allow further input even though you sent the email only three weeks ago. I also find it frustrating and odd that the new, much more visible survey (linked in bold text as “Survey Link”) sent to parents this week has no place for any feedback or comments. Given that you only received 3,700 “thoughts” (as noted in the Solana Beach Sun article) from a district the size of SDUHSD, I would strongly recommend and ask that you give parents a more visible avenue for input and feedback on these newly published options.

Thank you,

Jason Knapp

A concerned parent of an SDA sophomore

Partial obstruction of views more likely reason for objection to school expansion

Eleanor Musick’s letter of June 5 suggests that the Cardiff School District was not honest. Consider the fact that the opposition against the district was initiated by a small group, led by Musick. Five of six individuals in the group live across the street from the school. This group maintains that their objection to the school expansion was for reasons having to do with an incursion into the district’s owned land onto George Berkich Park. It is really more likely their honest objection had to do with the probability that their views would be partially obstructed. That’s the truth. You can review the public meeting records and see that the OGALS and NPS boundary adjustment was brought up as an issue long after the initial district community meetings were conducted. This group discovered that the district was thought to be violating the use agreement between the city and the district. They then transitioned to a position of opposition based mostly on their interpretation that the expansion could not take over space that was defined in the boundaries for the Land and Water Conservation Fund Project Agreement executed by the city and the school district.

It is true that the district was not cognizant of particulars as the agreement was signed into existence in 1993. Institutional knowledge and historical memory unfortunately wasn’t engaged. However, it is also important to point out the city itself did not recall the agreement as they had approved construction for a prior bond issue into the disputed land area.

What is also true is that Musick’s group sued the school district and garnered a settlement to the tune of $500,000. Legal extortion. The school district was forced to make a business decision about expending substantial further funds in defending Musick’s lawsuit. Most likely the school district would have prevailed, but it would have spent several million dollars going forward and, in the meantime, the current construction was suspended with significant delay costs being owed to the general contractor for having to stop their work on the project.

As it is, Musick’s group has thus far cost the school district in excess of $4 million comprised of legal costs, project impact changes and other fees! I am also of the opinion that all of this could have been avoided had the city mayor and city council facilitated the boundary adjustment. The city was uncooperative and seemingly opposed to helping the school district and that is another story in itself that will ultimately be revealed.

M. Boone Hellmann

Cardiff by the Sea

July 3 issue:

Marijuana ballot initiative an effort to override local control

I would like to thank Encinitas City Council members Tony Kranz and Kellie Shay Hinze for recognizing the marijuana ballot initiative is nothing but an effort by the pot industry to override local control and remove the council’s ability to make land-use decisions with regard to pot businesses.

The industry deployed paid signature-gatherers, who often used misinformation in convincing people to sign the petition getting the measure on the ballot. It would allow at least four marijuana retail outlets, cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution centers in this small beach community, which voted down a 2014 ballot initiative.

In other cities, the industry poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into advertising campaigns, making it a very one-sided effort, disguised as choice. In reality, the ballot measure takes away all local control.

Kelly McCormick


Council in unique position to educate citizens

As someone who works with young people, I’m very grateful for Encinitas City Council member Tony Kranz’s voice in opposition to the marijuana ballot initiative. I hope council member Kellie Shay Hinze will consider signing the ballot argument as well. The Encinitas City Council is in a unique position to educate the citizens of Encinitas regarding negative consequences with this ballot initiative. It’s too bad Mayor Catherine Blakespear and council member Joe Mosca won’t step up even though they have publicly stated they aren’t in favor of dispensaries in Encinitas.

The citizens of Encinitas elected the City Council to have the best interest of all residents, not just the marijuana industry. The public listens and respects the council’s opinion. Their leadership is paramount. Also, by defeating the initiative the city will keep local control of their land use which is critical for a city.

Barbara Gordon

Public Health Educator

Response to Cardiff School supporter letter

The letter by M. Boone Hellmann published in the June 19, 2020 Encinitas Advocate raises issues.

His first claim, that the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was raised long after the community meetings, is false. The LWCF restrictions, discovered in a search of City records, were disclosed to the district on February 6, 2018, five days after the fourth Community Workshop on the school design. At this point, the district had incurred all of $40,000 on concept design fees -- hardly a point of no return in a design process that since then has cost over $1.5 million.

Hellmann’s claim of no institutional knowledge of the agreement is feeble given that the express terms of the agreement required retention of the agreement on site, and that a current school board member had been on the board when it unanimously approved the LWCF agreement. Beyond that, “I forgot” is no excuse for ignoring a legal obligation.

Hellmann opines that “most likely the school district would have prevailed.” Was he unaware that a Superior Court judge decided against the district five out of five times, including a final ruling that the district was in violation of CEQA? Hellmann is also unaware that, by law, a winning party is entitled to recover legal fees incurred in bringing actions for CEQA violations. He was apparently ignorant that the 4th District Court of Appeals had reviewed the facts and denied the district’s request to lift the stay ordered by the judge. It is delusional to think that the district could have prevailed under any circumstance.

Hellmann levels unfounded accusations of non-cooperation by the City, which insisted only that the district observe LWCF rules. The City even established an ad hoc committee to address the LWCF violations, but the district was less than cooperative, even failing to give the City advance notice in June 2019 that it was completely closing the park for two years -- a violation of the LWCF. Instead, the district excluded the City from discussions with the parks department, forcing the City to separately ask the parks department to keep them informed. The district convinced the parks department to cut the City out of the agreement entirely, violating fundamental tenets of contract law, denying the City input on the future of a park in which it had invested nearly a half million in Encinitas taxpayer funds.

Finally, as to the issue of views, my now panoramic ocean view after the district felled 40 mature trees for the project has never been better. I, and my neighbors, preferred the trees.

Eleanor Musick


Progressivism and social justice

The foundation of progressivism is about progress in social reform based on the idea that advancement in science and technology, economic development and social organization are vital to the human condition.

The core of being progressive is an environmental commitment. As Encinitas is a coastal community, most people are concerned about the environment, no matter what politics they identify with at the national level. In 2018, Encinitas’ Climate Action Plan set seven strategies to curb greenhouse gas production. In 2019, the entire city council voted to establish a Community Choice Energy program; Encinitas also joined San Diego Community Power. Improving the environment is still the focus, however, the financial uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus may affect when improvement projects will be done; however, our belief is that the city will not let these obstacles prevent progress.

The Encinitas City Council is working fervently to solve the growing issues surrounding local homelessness and affordable housing within the community without bankrupting the city. The necessity to find a balance between fiscal responsibility and social justice to help members of the Encinitas community in need is important to the city.

Since instating a safe parking lot in the area, numerous homeless individuals have found use for the structure. These parking lots help prevent those on the verge of homelessness from residing on the streets. Much to the chagrin of naysayers, who believe giving the homeless a place to find shelter will create a “welcome mat” for homelessness and add to the existing problem. In fact, it would be unusual for people to make a choice to be homeless when they have other options.

Ultimately, progressivism is about addressing the problems that face us head on and actively thinking of efficient ways to confront those challenges. We should give the homelessness crisis a voice and accept that it is a problem, and we need to work on it, instead of pretending it’s not there.

“The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty!” — Pope Francis

Narima Lopes and Cori Wilbur


Youth health and safety should be a priority

As stated in a recent Union-Tribune article the city of Encinitas unfortunately declined the opportunity to take the opposing position on a citizens’ initiative on the November ballot that would allow cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and up to four retail dispensaries.

As a parent of teens and youth mentor I find it disheartening that the city council wouldn’t recognize their responsibility to the citizens of Encinitas. This initiative is only on the ballot because of out-of-town paid signature gatherers’ going out in force, often using misinformation to convince people to sign. This is not what the majority of Encinitas families and youth groups want. During these unprecedented times it is extremely important that children and teens know that Encinitas has their health and safety as their upmost concern.

Becky Rapp


Critical thinking skills needed this November

Encinitas voters may be quite intelligent, and they’ll need their critical thinking skills this November when voting on the “Cannabis Activity Zoning Ordinance” – an initiative to allow various marijuana businesses.

Throughout election season, voters will likely be inundated with glossy mailers appealing to their demographic, whatever that may be. For Vista’s Measure Z in 2018, the industry spent $575,000 on a campaign appealing to seniors, conservatives, and young families convincing them that medical marijuana shops would create a safer community.

The marijuana industry has lots of money; community prevention does not. Voters will not get mailers informing them that the initiative puts barriers on the city to impose additional regulations, that the industry makes most of their money on highly potent smoking and vaping products, and that young adults 18-25 are the primary consumers of marijuana.

Will Encinitas voters support the commercialization of another addictive industry? It will be up to them to decide.

Erica Leary, MPH

Program Manager, North Coastal Prevention Coalition

Ballot measure will not benefit community

People usually run for local office because of a deep commitment to a town and to influence the community’s direction. It is a service to the public. It is a challenge to rise above the fray and to work with others to enrich the community.

With this in mind, it was highly disappointing for the mayor to remain hands off and not encourage the council to author an argument against the upcoming ballot measure regarding marijuana business in Encinitas. Furthermore, the considered opinions of previous public servants, mayors, elected officials and others generated little interest and discussion.

This ballot measure will allow up to four marijuana retail storefronts, marijuana greenhouse grows and marijuana products to be manufactured and distributed in our town. I fail to see how this will enrich our community.

Nancy Perry-Sheridan MSW

31 - year Cardiff resident

San Dieguito Alliance for Drug Free Youth

July 17 issue:

Global effort needed to create policies to save lives

Where does climate change fit during a pandemic, economic collapse and the Black Lives Matter movement? Lack of action on climate change will have significant adverse effect on all economies. Climate change impacts people of color and those living in poverty disproportionately, so it is a social justice issue. The pandemic is teaching us lessons on how a global effort is needed to create policies to save lives. It is a wake-up call for action on climate change.

It is all connected.

Recently, the bi-partisan House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, unveiled a comprehensive plan “Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America.” It details ambitious and actionable climate solutions that Congress should enact.

We thank Congressman Mike Levin as a member of the committee and author of the report.

We must act now.

Susan Kobara


La Costa 48 developer misleads Coastal Commission

At last week’s Coastal Commission hearing, the La Costa 48 project developer piled unfunded liabilities on the city, hinted again at the mayor’s endorsement, and insulted the widely respected Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation.

Opponents pointed out that committee staff and the developer together planned to use nothing more than some paint to “create” a required traffic lane where there is none, on a road where there are no shoulders and minimum easements. The developer also said city staff had unreported but planned traffic improvements on its own.

The city’s added liability for safe public vehicle or pedestrian access to site trails has been ignored – especially for a stretch of road that has no sidewalks and missing bike lanes. Personal injury lawyers will have a field day when the inevitable traffic or pedestrian accidents occur. Be assured the developer will be added when they name defendants in pursuit of six and seven figure settlements.

The committee reported an ex parte meeting with Mayor Blakespear, presumably to discuss the city’s approval despite the committee’s newest concern about waste and toxins (including DDT) that will remain, to be stored under the low income portion of the project.

The developer then boasted that he outclassed the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation, characterizing the foundation as unsophisticated and lacking expertise with the hazards the project poses. For decades the non-profit has managed the Batiquitos Lagoon with quiet diligence, directing tens of millions of dollars in improvements to restore the lagoon from a wasteland dotted by shopping carts to the healthy tidal lagoon it is today. Committee members did not allow foundation representatives to rebut the developer’s statements.

The Sierra Club of San Diego delivered a stern warning about the importance of protecting the lagoon, but technical issues prevented it from being read.

Stephen Locko


July 31 issue:

More NIMBYism

I am sickened to read the majority view against a homeless housing project at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Do people hear what they are saying? That they oppose sheltering other human beings who have nowhere to live because it might lower their property values? We have found ourselves living in the most beautiful place on earth, and yet we are so stingy. North County NIMBYism has reached a new low.

Shannon Hayes


Aug. 14 issue:

Encinitas Boulevard Apartments developer silences public input

I write to address inaccuracies in your July 31 article titled “Encinitas Boulevard Apartments developer collects public input.”

This title was misleading. The zoom meeting hosted July 23 by developer Randy Goodson was intended to qualify for the required Citizen Participation Plan meant to give residents the opportunity to understand the project and raise concerns about impacts on Encinitas. The CPP should facilitate open dialogue so the developer can work with residents to mitigate concerns. The 270 residents attending were never allowed a voice in the meeting.

A disturbing outcome of silencing participants was that Mr. Goodson was able to avoid difficult questions and handpick those that suited him. The residents’ urgent concern about wildfire evacuation was paraphrased as: “We have some questions about emergency evacuations.” Mr. Goodson answered, “We have no involvement in that. The Encinitas Sheriff’s Department and Fire Department will handle that. They do a great job.” This project will cause a bottleneck at one of two evacuation exits for Olivenhain. To ignore the potential life-threatening problem that he will create is unconscionable.

Your article quoted many of Mr. Goodson’s statements which could not be contested since no questions were allowed. Some of his assertions include:

• “The project will provide for a much broader range of housing for the city.” This should be put in context: 42 units for families making $80,000/year will do little to help those most in need in our community.

• Mr. Goodson said the project is between 3 and 4 stories. This complex is one 7-story building.

• “This project does not make the traffic on Rancho Santa Fe Road worse.” How can adding 1700+ daily auto trips to a congested 2-lane road not make traffic worse?

• “This is the perfect location for an apartment complex and affordable housing” because of its proximity to retail, restaurants, and public transit. The only nearby grocery stores and restaurants are far from affordable. The NCTD 304 bus with only 2-3 stops per day, weekdays only, is inadequate for transportation to jobs.

• Mr. Goodson said, “We believe this is adequately parked.” His expectation of less than one car per bedroom is unrealistic. Tenant’s rights, which cannot be discriminated against, allow 3 people per 1 bedroom apartment and 5 people per 2 bedroom apartment. With minimal street parking nearby, all those additional occupants with vehicles will be forced to search for parking in neighborhoods up to 1/2 mile away.

This particular development has many negative impacts for which Mr. Goodson claims he has no responsibility. It will set precedents for future projects across Encinitas. Many residents feel that city officials are listening to developers over citizens while ignoring safety and community character.

Amy McCord for Encinitas Residents for Responsible Development

There should be two options in every school

I am appalled by San Dieguito Union High School District’s decision to follow the lead of other districts in the state in not opposing Governor Newsom’s school closure order and starting the school year in a full distance learning mode. This is a decision based on politics and fear-mongering. There should be two options in every school — full distance and full in-person. If families do not want to send their children to school, then they can choose full distance. They should not, however, be allowed to dictate what all families do. Additionally, many of the families in support of distance learning are also hiring teachers and tutors to teach small groups of children. How is this right if it is so dangerous for children to be together?

I am disappointed that affluent families will be widening the achievement gap because they can afford to create micro-schools for their children. As long as families who are willing and able to pay for private tutoring can mitigate the damage that distance learning does, there will be little reason for politicians to push for schools to reopen.

Erika Daniels


Warning: Snake in the grass

Early in the morning on Monday, Aug. 1, someone stole two yard signs from my front yard. One was a sign supporting Catherine Blakespear for mayor and the other, a sign that said, “Support Black Communities.” I awoke in the morning and wondered why the perpetrator of this crime believes that their right to “free speech“ superseded mine? I call this petty theft and trespassing! Since when does someone have the right to do that?

Ironically they left my “End White Silence: Black Lives Matter” sign but turned it around. Now the folks driving the other way can see where I stand.

Robin Sales



Childcare organizations are fighting to stay afloat

By Marineke Vandervort

CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito

Childcare has become one of the next great needs in this pandemic. As Supervisor Nathan Fletcher noted, more than 600 childcare providers in our community have had to close their doors. We now have a critical childcare shortage. Our success as a community in supporting this industry will influence our economic recovery, as well as our youth’s ability to bounce back from these events, as many children rely on afterschool programs to supplement their education, and many working families have structured their lives around affordable care.

Decisions are being made about what our classrooms will look like in the fall. Virtual, live, or some combination of the two, and all subject to the course of this pandemic and state mandates. Educational systems are tasked with incredibly difficult decisions and planning challenges, as are families, who will likely need to fill longer gaps in their children’s supervision. Organizations such as ours, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, are among those who will make up the difference in this new environment, so that parents are not faced with near-impossible decisions. Childcare organizations are positioned to help with this next stage in our public response because they are inherently linked to the structure of the school day, and they have built-in flexibility for this purpose. They are built for the job; what they need now is support in order to fulfill their role.

Childcare organizations across the nation are facing new financial realities that are bringing their budgets to their limits. It has become more expensive to care for fewer children due to the direct and indirect costs of this pandemic. Before COVID-19, a group of children could all use the same box of colored pencils, but now in order to avoid cross-contamination, children have to be provided with their own individual materials at expense to the organization. There are also new costs associated with safety precautions, such as protective gear, and sanitizing products. By one estimate, it will cost providers three times as much to care for one-third of the number of children. As the CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito I can attest to how childcare organizations such as ours that cover costs of attendance for those youth who need it, operate on a small margin to begin with. The new cost of COVID-related safety measures has already created an uncertain future for many of us in this industry. Childcare facilities that have chosen to reopen their doors to the community under high financial penalty to themselves are struggling, and will have to stretch even further to meet the challenges of the coming school year.

In this pandemic, vulnerability and hardship for one group or industry has had a ripple effect, which has impacted society’s capacity to care for everyone. Recent events have been harshest on those who were at a disadvantage to begin with. We know that children are experiencing learning loss from school closures, and the degree to which this is occurring is largely a function of household income. Certain processes have been set in motion that experts predict will affect graduation rates, and other aspects of our children’s futures. We are about to lose ground on important steps we have taken to support a more equitable future for our youth. Afterschool programs have always played a role in changing outcomes, and nonprofit afterschool programs are part of a support network that create a buffer for underserved youth. We work with school districts to support individual students, serving as an added component of our youth’s education. We provide tutoring, as well as technology to help our youth complete their homework, and during the last few months of this school year we offered virtual tutoring. In addition to bolstering graduation rates, we believe that childcare makes our youth more resilient. Childcare organizations ensure that our youth remain counted in many different ways.

Affordable childcare can help sustain and rebuild our community. It can support reopening in whatever shape that takes. Our organization impacts over 16,000 in the community, so just as our losses are losses for the community, our gains benefit the broader community that we serve. Childcare organizations are part of an industry that supports many others, and now is the time to show support for them.

Sept. 11 issue:

Carbon pricing bill

People can walk and chew gum at the same time! At least that’s what a new survey shows. Great news. Because if we only focus on the current pandemic, we’ll be behind on all the other crises brewing in our midst. I was heartened to hear that climate change, not just the pandemic, is a high priority for voters and that 25% of the population feel this issue is extremely important to them personally. Now we just have to solve the dang thing. That’s why I support the legislation that is foundational to all climate legislation and supported overwhelmingly by economists: a price on carbon. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act has 82 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. This carbon pricing bill is market based (good for conservatives) and revenue neutral (appealing to progressives). So let’s get walking. . . and chewing also!

Judy Berlfein


Sept. 25 issue:

Candidate letters policy should be reconsidered

Your recently announced decision to treat letters supporting candidates for office as “advertising” and charge for their publication doesn’t make much sense to me. You state you are doing so: “In order to be consistent about which endorsement letters advocating for or against a candidate or political party are published . . .” How does charging money for publishing a letter to the editor insure “consistency”? it would seem to favor the candidates with wealthy supporters. Why not just decide to publish a given number of political letters, and divide the letters equally among different points of view? It seems like your new policy is designed to chill political opinion, not encourage it. With respect, you should reconsider this decision.

Richard Hicks


Editor’s note: The candidate policy for letters during election season has been in place for several years. Below is more information on the policy.

Q – Why the policy?

A – During election season, our papers are flooded with letters to the editor supporting or opposing specific candidates. Many of these letters are orchestrated by candidates or campaign committees and should fall under the category of paid political advertising. Since space on our editorial pages is limited, we decided to not curate these letters and open publication up to all for a minimal charge.

Q – So I can’t write a letter encouraging voters to support my candidate?

A – Sure you can, but these letters will fall into the category of paid political advertising, which are charged a minimal fee to cover the cost of newsprint and production.

Q – But I’m displeased with the performance in office of (fill in the name of an incumbent) and think he/she should be replaced. Can I write about that?

A – Absolutely – except within two months of an election – when they will be considered paid political advertising.

Q - Admit it, you’ll run positive letters on the candidates your newspaper is endorsing, right?

A - No. We decided several years ago, that political endorsements might undermine readers’ perception of the paper’s objectivity. So we stopped making political endorsements. We provide extensive news coverage of races that are important to our readers, and understand that you will make up your own mind.

Q - At what point will you suspend running free or paid political letters?

A – To make sure there is time for a candidate to respond, the Oct. 23 issue will be last one containing political letters of any kind.

Q - How will I know whether my letter will run for free?

A- If your letter falls into the paid category, you will be notified by our political advertisement desk and you will be given the opportunity to decide if you want to proceed with publication.

We’ll do our best to allow you, the readers, continued free access to our letters column. We ask that you work with us in complying with the new policy on political candidate letters.

Note: This fee policy, in place during the 2020 primary election, does not apply to letter writers or columnists commenting on ballot measures.

Phyllis Pfeiffer

President and General Manager

U-T Community Press

Action is imperative

Recent news and press coverage of the fires show how horrific events can become the opportunity to act. We see that sometimes one event, or a series of events, can start a movement that has the potential to bring about real change. And so it may be with the fires in the West. Will there be enough suffering, enough loss of lives and property, enough economic damage, enough outrage, enough “enough is enough” to spark a massive movement?

Action is imperative. We must get to work, continue our work and remain hopeful. We need to ramp up our efforts as this may finally be the time when public opinion, and therefore the actions of our representatives, changes. Please consider joining a group, like Citizens Climate Lobby or others, that work tirelessly and effectively toward ending climate change.

Susan Kobara


Oct. 23 issue:

Thanks to an anonymous good citizen

This letter is a public expression of thanks to an anonymous good citizen in Encinitas, and to lifeguard Sidney at Moonlight Beach.

I did not notice when a brand new smart phone slipped out of my pocket while I was sitting on a bench above Moonlight Beach with my wife, on Thursday, Oct. 15. We noticed the loss shortly after getting home, which started a high pressure search in the car and in the house and desperate calls to other places we had been to, all of which is a physical and mental challenge at our mature ages. The desperation was ended by a call from our daughter who had just been called from the missing phone at the lifeguard station. She started with, “Hi Dad. You lost your phone, didn’t you?”

A few minutes later we were back at Moonlight Beach, where I retrieved the phone at the lifeguard station from Sidney, a great example of California friendliness for this fairly new “immigrant” from somewhat more antsy suburban Boston. She could only say that someone had found the phone and turned it in with the hope it would be returned.

Yes, it has been returned, with great thanks to the nameless good citizen, and to Sidney, in whose honors a contribution has been made to help those under stress in these days of the corona pandemic.

Stephen Miller,


SDUHSD board: Slow the reopening process down

Dear SDUHSD Board of Trustees and Superintendent Haley,

Before quarantine, many students thought of the current pandemic as a far-off storm, a hurricane that would never make landfall. Sadly, it seems the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) board still thinks of COVID-19 this way. Against a virus that has killed upwards of 200,000 people in the United States alone, the district, under the guidance of the board, has taken little action. Filtration and ventilation in schools is still inadequate. Classes are not cleaned between periods. Facing the impossibility of adequate distancing in a classroom of 40 students, the district has lowered the requirements for social distancing to 3 feet. But the CDC director has repeatedly said we should keep a distance of 6 feet—not 3. The board states students and faculty alike will wear masks and wash our hands. But there have been no consequences outlined for those who don’t.

The board states reopening is safe. It’s not. However, it appears ignorance of both science and human decency is the norm. Instead of augmenting these measures to ensure the safety of the students and teachers of the district, the board has given teachers an ultimatum—put themselves at risk of infection by returning to school or take a leave of absence without health benefits. As teachers themselves have stated, to force those who have worked so hard to adapt their curricula to the challenges of an online environment to choose between the lesser of two evils is unjust and inhumane, especially because they have shown they can teach remotely as effectively as they teach in person.

Students in the district hope to see plans that show us in detail what our days on campus will actually look like, and what our days in distance learning will look like. What kind of an education will these two environments entail? What will happen if a teacher, in the face of this ultimatum, decides to protect their own health by leaving their position? What will happen to their students? We need detailed plans that will ensure quality education as we move to in-person learning. Right now all we have are bare outlines containing gaping holes. There are too many questions to answer and too many issues to address to ask us to choose if we’re ready to come back in the first week of November. People’s lives demand more deliberation than this. Slow the process down.

Joshua Charat-Collins, student, Canyon Crest Academy

Co-signed by 447 SDUHSD students, 31 SDUHSD teachers, 454 SDUHSD parents, 84 SDUHSD residents as of Oct. 19, 2020 10:50 a.m.

Show us how to listen again

As I’m sure these times of polarization are distressing and disheartening to many of your readers (like me), I’d like to offer this congratulatory, yet pleading note to the impending winning candidates of our current election cycle at all levels of government:

Dear ___________,

Congratulations on your recent election win!

Though politics are meant to highlight contrast, you are now called to lead all of your constituents, not only your base.

As you’re no longer in an election, please actively and visibly sponsor bipartisanship, leading by example by working with leaders from your opponent’s party to:

1. Come to a compromise of legislation to positively impact at least one of the top hot button issues your opponent’s supporters care about, without breaking your principles or promises.

2. Evaluate the distribution of power within our government and ensure that any big decisions require at least some support from your opposition — actively advocate for this change (e.g at the federal level, requiring 60 votes for Supreme Court justice confirmation)

3. Establish a set of objectives and key results to clearly show the people you represent what your goals are -- not your rhetoric, not even your actions, but your outcomes. Set targets on these goals, and humbly accept when your policies do not result in clear success, but openly learn from them.

America and our communities need healing, and it starts with you. If you can’t at least see that your opponent has positive intent, invite their family over for dinner for as many nights as required (seriously) to heal your relationship, and let that serve as an example for all of us, who may be thinking that we are good and the people on “the other side” are evil, that we are right and people on “the other side” just don’t get it, that it’s not worth even having a conversation with them.

The echo chambers are getting bigger, and therefore louder, and the wall between “our” chamber and “their” chamber is getting thicker. We blame the social media companies, we blame the opponent’s leader, we blame our news outlets, but we are all accountable -- for clicking on the click-bait, for not holding our own leaders accountable, for failing to even listen to a point of view that may be different to our own. You now have the power. Show us how we can listen again.

Call me naive, but I sincerely hope that every candidate — from our local city council/school board, up to our president, would consider such requests, and that all voters would hold our elected leaders accountable to narrow the space between us all.

Rob Riordan

Distressed and disheartened voter in Encinitas

Don’t be misled by proponents of Measure H information

As citizens of Encinitas for 33 years, our family is concerned about the health and safety of its young people, and all citizens.

Like you, we are concerned that the pending election be handled in a civil and gracious manner, honest and transparent.

With that in mind, we are concerned regarding misleading information from the proponents of Measure H, a ballot measure which would bring marijuana retail storefronts, cultivation, manufacturing and kitchens to Encinitas.

Measure H will not generate “substantial sales tax revenue for the city” as promoted in the written argument of the ballot language.

Measure H does not include a city marijuana business tax. Measure H authors avoided including taxes for Encinitas. Additional taxes can only be collected with another separate expensive ballot measure written by the city and passed by popular vote of the Encinitas residents.

Although marijuana products are subject to state and county taxes, the amount trickled down from the state to Encinitas is miniscule. Marijuana tax is not going to generate a windfall of money to Encinitas, as proponents claim. It will not pay law enforcement or firefighters salaries. It will not add money to Encinitas schools.

Please don’t be misled by inaccurate information.

Nancy and Craig Logan

Encinitas residents