Blakely’s bottom line: “Q funds are being used contrary to the UPAC committee's two years worth of time developing impartial recommendations and, most importantly, not in our city of Del Mar’s taxpayer’s best interests.”
The City Council adopted UPAC’s recommendations as to the scheduling order for undergrounding, with areas 1A (Stratford) and X1A (Crest) going first, consistent with UPAC’s recommendation – and Tewa was in Tier 3, until it was plucked out of Tier 3 and moved to the top tier by a May 17, 2021 Council resolution, with no consultation with UPAC beforehand and despite opposition from former City Manager C.J. Johnson (reported in the June 24th Del Mar Times).
Just What is Left of UPAC?
Collectively, the mass resignations represent a significant loss of institutional memory, since UPAC conducted the foundational work for the undergrounding project from its inception in 2018 until the City halted its meetings in April 2020. At least five of the committee members who participated in that foundational work are now gone (Thomas, Sykes, Blakely, Benedict and Shah). With four vacancies and two new members who have yet to attend a committee meeting, and postponed meetings due to the pandemic-related budget crisis, this 9-member advisory committee appears to be undergrounded.
The Council Majority's Decision to Bypass UPAC: The concerns raised by the Tewa process are underscored by the Council’s decision to suspend most advisory committee meetings since March 2020, even though Zoom meetings could have allowed these advisory committees to continue providing citizen input into Council decisions. The Council majority not only chose to deviate from a prior Council decision to begin undergrounding with the 1A and X1a areas by jumping the Tewa neighborhood to the front of the line; it also elected to completely bypass UPAC, not even allowing UPAC to meet to evaluate the Tewa proposal and make a recommendation to the Council.
The 4-1 vote on Tewa (Worden opposed) suggests that the Advisory Committee system that has long provided a mechanism for robust citizen input into key City decisions is in need of a strong reaffirmation by the current Council. Even now, with the City’s budget having recovered to some extent, the Council is apparently on track to keep the Advisory Committees largely on hiatus until 2022.
The Sandpiper will report on key developments on this topic in its September issue. The July/August issue is available online.