Monday, September 21, 2020

City Council Focuses on Dogs and Grants

People came out in droves to the Coronado City Council meeting on August 21 to show their opposition for the proposed dog park between the school district office building and Village Elementary’s Early Childhood Education Center (ECDC). Mayor Bailey joked, “If we want to stack the auditorium, we just need to have a dog park led issue and then more people will show up.” This topic had received quite a bit of attention from local media and online social media. The motion before the Council was to consider amending an agreement already in place between the City and the Coronado Unified School District (CUSD) that allows for shared-use of some of the CUSD facilities, such as the track and theater. This agreement helps maximize the benefits of public resources and provides CUSD with additional revenue sources. CUSD approved amending the agreement at their August 16 meeting to lease .28 acres located at 201 Sixth Street to the City for an off-leash dog park. The City agreed to pay $60,000 per year on a trial basis and additional monies in upgrades and maintenance.

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Sixteen members of the community, including parents and teachers, took turns speaking for over an hour on the detriments of having a dog park located next to the school. The most voiced concerns were: noise issues, safety and security from dogs and strangers, taking needed play space from the children, health and sanitary hazards, and parking impact. Several of the speakers were in favor of the park, citing limitations at Dog Beach and the Cays Park. Several petitions were circulated garnering several hundred votes against the park and less votes for the park.

After reviewing letters, hearing all the public comments, and discussion, the City Council voted 3-1, with Councilmember Benzian opposing,* to postpone action on this item, with Councilmember Sandke recusing himself due to a conflict. “We have not given the public an appropriate opportunity to share their concerns about the proposed park prior to the meeting,” said Mayor Bailey. He recognized that there was a strong public demand for an off-leash dog park in Coronado with 30-40 percent of households here having dogs, but there were concerns surrounding the use of this particular area with the close proximity of children. All the Councilmembers weighed in with Councilmember Benzian saying, “I am confident we can find a solution.” He agreed to meet with Port officials to explore other locations.

Councilmember Downey commented, “I didn’t realize how strong the need for this was until I received all the community input. She agreed with the mayor and others for recommended workshops to get public input and working with the Parks and Recreation Department. Councilmember Donovan felt that all the options had been explored, but was willing to do additional research.

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Consideration of funding for grant allocation for community organizations for 2018-2019 caused considerable discussion. The majority of the 16 organizations had someone speak on behalf of their group and what they do for the community. After the presentation, the mayor presented the dilemma that $1.187 million of grant money had been requested, but with the recently adopted cap of $1 million, they needed to focus on the core community functions to make the necessary cuts.

Councilmember Sandke proposed that the Coronado Historical Association (CHA) monies of $381,350 be excluded from the grant proposals. He felt that the other grantees were put at a disadvantage with the three year monetary commitment to CHA. He said, “We deserve to support our community and we should find the best and most effective ways to do that.” Councilmember Benzian agreed that, “A cap is a fiscally prudent policy, but when you get to know these groups that give a lot back to the community, it’s hard to put a value on that.” Councilmember Downey thanked all the groups for their community contributions and said she looks at the percentage each organization gets from donations and feels that shows community support. “People give time and treasure. If someone in Coronado is willing to write a check, then maybe it’s worth matching it with taxpayer funds,” she commented. She came up with proposed cuts based on how requestors divvied up their money based on the community element being served with regards to economic development, social services, arts, community pride, and sense of place. She agreed that some of the CHA money should not be counted against the grant money, especially due to the community service of the public restroom they provide.

All the council members agreed that these community groups give a lot back to the community. The following chart lists the final grant allocations, which were approved 3-2 after difficult deliberations, by Councilmembers Benzian, Sandke and Downey, with Mayor Bailey and Councilmember Donovan voting against.

2018/2019 Grant Allocation for Community Organizations

Camp Able$12,800$10,000
Coronado 4th of July$35,500$35,500
Coronado Chamber of Commerce$110,000$95,000
Coronado Community Band$5,690$5,690
Coronado Floral Association$50,000$50,000
Coronado Historical Association$381,350$381,350
Coronado Island Film Festival$50,000$35,000
Coronado MainStreet$103,765$95,000
Coronado Maritime Foundation$15,000-0-
Coronado Memorial Day$1,693$2,000
Coronado Playhouse$21,000$21,000
Coronado SAFE$280,000$260,000
Friends of the Coronado Public Library$10,400-0-
Lamb’s Players Theatre$95,000$90,000
Musica Vitale$12,500$9,500
Naval Sea Cadets$3,000$3,000
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The Council unanimously approved a Historical Alternation Permit and a Major Special Use Permit for the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 655 C Avenue. This would include the demolition of non-historic buildings, interior remodel of the historically designated two-story former convent building, and construction of a new parish hall with an attached chapel. The church sanctuary will not be remodeled, and have hours of operation from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, with Midnight Masses held on Christmas and Easter.

Also on the agenda was the adoption of an Ordinance to require wireless communication facilities to comply with adopted procedures, which the Council unanimously approved. This allows the City to get ahead of potential issues associated with sighting and design of wireless facilities before it becomes a problem for Coronado. It includes a Zoning Ordinance Amendment and new procedures to keep Coronado’s design aesthetics, helping prevent unsightly facilities in visually sensitive areas in town. There are also regulatory limitations that must be considered. The preferred locations are alleys in non-residential zones, city-owned parcels, and non-residential zones. Design standards include a “Stealth Facility” designed to be visually unobtrusive. Proposed Performance Standards address noise, maintenance, radio frequency emissions, and facility removal issues. A tiered-permit system would be put in place. City Manager Blair King said, “This issue will be evolving and will not go away as technology changes.”

Due to time constraints, the Underground Master Plan was postponed to the September meeting. Finally, Councilmember Benzian requested that the Council consider a proposed Resolution banning Off-Shore Drilling. He wants Coronado to show support with every other San Diego coastal city on this issue, but it was vetoed.

* Editor’s Note August 28, 2018 – The initial publication of this article said that the council voted unanimously to postpone action regarding the dog park. Councilmember Benzian alerted The Coronado Times that he voted against.



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Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to:


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