Residents of Del Mar and Solana Beach have recently been offered a deal they can't refuse: cut-rate ear plugs, free "relocation" out of their homes for two weekends and a resident biologist to sit in the lagoon to monitor the effects of noise on the creatures that inhabit that sanctuary.
Some may ask how did this happen? How could this happen? How could two small residential communities suddenly find their tranquility, their quality of life, shattered? It is one thing to hear the wash of surf on the beach or, for a brief time during summer months, the occasional cheers of enthusiastic spectators at the Del Mar Race Track, another to experience a quality of noise like monster mechanical mosquitoes chasing each other around your head.
The proposed Southern California Grand Prix at Del Mar has caused thousands of homeowners who live adjacent to the Del Mar Fairgrounds to demand answers to the question of why they seem to have no control over the noise levels of over 85 decibels that will be visited upon them in the privacy of their homes if Grand Prix races ultimately are approved. (The 22nd Agricultural District Assn. Board already has voted in favor of the racing.) This decibel level is so great that two people standing within one foot of each other would have to shout at the top of their lungs to communicate.
Although there are some who go into a frenzy of joy at the sound of an engine racing at 9,000 r.p.m. or for whom the smell of motor oil steaming off a hot engine block is more sensuous than the latest perfume on an attractive woman, the majority of local residents couldn't care less. For them it is a prime example of how their residential quality of life can be threatened by the insensitivity of a state agency, the flick of a pen in signing a contract and the turn of an auto ignition switch.
The crux of the problem is the self-proclaimed immunity of the Del Mar Fair Board to local noise ordinances and consideration for nearby residents' rights to enjoy their own homes and community, along with the instinct for potential profit by the promoters in selling their races in the context of these seaside communities. No reasonable person wants to deny racing aficionados their right to enjoy the excitement of Grand Prix auto racing. But that enjoyment should take place in the appropriate location . . . away from private homes and quiet neighborhoods.
On April 10, the County Planning and Environmental Review Board is expected to approve a year-round professional race track that could and should accommodate the running of a Southern California Grand Prix. The Otay Mesa track is in a barren and remote area of the county more than a mile and a half from the nearest residence. This is a far more appropriate location for racing than the one currently being considered--in the heart of the residential communities of Del Mar and Solana Beach.
We wish the Fair Board had chosen to strengthen its bonds with the local community by sending the promoter down to Otay Mesa and forgoing the potential revenue it would receive from this type of event. Being a good neighbor is more desirable for a state agency than single-mindedly moving ahead with an event that will disrupt the surrounding community.
Opponents of the races will now carry the fight to the California Coastal Commission and to the courts. No supposed "benefit" as offered by the Grand Prix promoter can outweigh the detrimental environmental effects on our communities and our citizenry.