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The Latest News from the Community of Del Mar
Updated: 2 hours 27 min ago

Man pleads guilty in fatal Del Mar hit-and-run case

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:27

By City News Service

A man who drove drunk and struck a marine biologist in a crosswalk in Del Mar, then fled the scene, pleaded guilty April 16 to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and a hit-and-run allegation.

Christopher “Chip’’ Stockmeyer, 41, faces between nine and 15 years in prison when he is sentenced June 20 for the March 28 death of Rachel Morrison.

Witnesses said the 27-year-old UCSD doctorate student, who was studying at the Scripps Oceanographic Institution, was walking eastbound when Stockmeyer ran a stop sign in his Audi A-4 and struck her at a high rate of speed at the intersection of Camino Del Mar and Coast Boulevard about 10:15 p.m.

Morrison’s friend, who was walking with her in the crosswalk, was not injured.

Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe said the Audi symbol from the car and a partial license plate helped sheriff’s deputies locate Stockmeyer at his La Jolla home 12 miles from the crash site.

Stockmeyer reportedly told deputies that he had been drinking with friends at a restaurant in Encinitas and admitted he “might have’’ hit somebody in Del Mar.

Watanabe estimated the defendant’s blood-alcohol level was . 24 percent at the time of the crash, three times the legal limit for driving.

Del Mar Powerhouse 10U Champions

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:17

The Del Mar Powerhouse 10U team played two pool play games and two elimination games to go undefeated in the Triple Crown Sports San Diego Open and win the Division 1 Championship.  The boys showed great determination and fight to come away victorious in elimination play and battle for the win with a one-run margin of victory for both semi-final and championship games.

(Above) Back row: Matthew Allen, Patrick Cunningham, Cameron Wurl, Ben Haynie, Bryce Grudzielanek, Carson Williams; Bottom row: Max Schreier , Luke Hollingsworth, Ryan Jackel, Burke Stratton, Soto Irie.

In its 13th season, attracting top athletes from throughout San Diego, Del Mar Powerhouse is home to eight competitive travel teams this 2013/2014 season.  Teams from ages 8U to 13U compete throughout Southern California and National tournaments.  Team tryouts are held each June.   Mid-season individual tryouts are held as needed.  Please contact Powerhouse at or visit the website at for more information.

Canyon Crest girls crack top three at Arcadia, set new school record

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:15

The CCA girls distance medley relay team finished third at the highly competitive Arcadia Invitational track and field meet. The athletes, from left to right, are: Kira Loren, Kelly Bernd, Kragen Metz and Anne Charles. Courtesy photo

Several young women runners from Carmel Valley high schools raced well in the Arcadia Invitational on April 11-12 in Los Angeles. Arcadia is considered to be one of the most competitive high school track and field meets in the country, drawing both national and international athletes to compete.

The Canyon Crest Academy girls placed third in the Women’s Distance Medley, finishing in a new school record of 12:10:82. The team members included senior Anne Charles, freshmen Kira Loren and Kragen Metz, and sophomore Kelly Bernd.

Cathedral Catholic junior Hannah Labrie-Smith also performed well at the competitive meet. Labrie-Smith placed second in the 300 meter hurdles invitational division and seventh in the seeded 100 meter hurdles.

Del Mar Foundation supports ‘Birdwing’ project with $20,000 grant

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 10:09

(L-R): Peter Shapiro, president of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy; Karen Wilson, executive director, Del Mar Foundation; Robin Crabtree, Del Mar Foundation board member and chair of the Grants Committee; Trish Boaz, executive director, San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy.

The Board of Directors of the Del Mar Foundation voted unanimously to approve a $20,000 grant to the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy and the San Dieguito River Park, sponsors of the Birdwing Open Air Classroom project. The project, called “Birdwing” for its architecturally dramatic shade structure, is an amphitheater-style outdoor space along the Coast-to-Crest Trail just off I-5 and Via de la Valle. It will allow the San Dieguito River Park to expand its school programs and serve as a gathering place for all people to learn about and enjoy lagoon habitats. The grand opening of Birdwing will be held on May 13.

Anyone wishing to make a donation toward this project may contact the Del Mar Foundation at 858-635-1363.

The Del Mar Foundation has a longstanding commitment to the San Dieguito Lagoon. This includes management of more than $600,000 in endowment funds. These funds ensure future maintenance of the Lagoon’s recent wetlands restoration, and enables grants for educational programs to help children and adults alike appreciate this key Del Mar open space and its vital importance to our region’s ecology.

The Del Mar Foundation promotes community cohesiveness, raises and grants funds, preserves open space, improves beaches and parklands, sponsors diverse cultural programs, and manages $2 million in endowment funds to benefit the greater Del Mar community and the San Dieguito Lagoon. Programs include the Summer Twilight Concerts, Cultural Arts concerts and First Thursdays, diverse Children’s events, Meet & Greets and DMF Talks speaker’s series. For more information about the Del Mar Foundation visit

Carmel Valley resident awarded a National Achievement Scholarship for his study at Princeton University

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 10:06

Justin Athill

The National Merit Scholarship Program has announced that Bishop’s Senior Justin Athill has been selected as a recipient of a National Achievement $2,500 Scholarship. Athill will study computer science at Princeton University in the fall.

Athill is the son of Leslie and Dr. Charles Athill of Carmel Valley. He has attended The Bishop’s School since the 7th grade, playing varsity lacrosse and participating in many extracurricular activities, including Teen Volunteers in Action, the African American Honor Society, Jack & Jill of America, Inc. and The Links Achievers.

More than 160,000 students who took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in the fall of 2012 entered the National Merit® Scholarship Program and also requested consideration in the National Achievement Program, open to African American students. Semifinalists were announced in fall 2013, and those 1,600 students moved on in the Achievement Scholarship competition. Approximately 1,300 fulfilled the requirements necessary to become finalists. Finally, 700 students, including Athill, were selected to receive National Achievement® $2500 Scholarships.

The National Achievement Scholarship Program is conducted and underwritten by National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). The National Achievement Scholarships are one-time scholarships offered on a regional representation basis, in numbers based on the region’s total of Black Americans.

For more information, about The Bishop’s School visit

Solana Beach business owners and community members discuss parking solutions for Highway 101 and the Cedros Design District

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 09:53

By Kristina Houck

Solana Beach business owners and community members gathered April 14 to discuss potential parking solutions for Highway 101 and the Cedros Design District during a special meeting April 14 in City Hall.

Organized by the Highway 101/Cedros Avenue Development Standing Committee, meeting attendees helped committee members narrow a list of three-dozen ideas that were generated when the group met in December to address parking concerns.

“The goal here is to walk away with three or four really solid ideas to take to the council in July, and at that meeting to talk about priorities and … get some things done,” said Councilman Mike Nichols, who serves as a liaison to the committee, along with Deputy Mayor Lesa Heebner.

By the end of the hour-long meeting, the roughly 30 attendees, decided to ask council in July to consider the use of valet parking, varied parking time limits in specific areas, rooftop parking and paid parking to help reduce parking issues.

During the July 9 meeting, staff will also introduce an ordinance that would establish a Business Parking District. If approved, the district would support businesses and encourage the development of new retail and restaurant uses within existing buildings, as well as promote the preservation of the existing building fabric along the Highway 101 corridor.

Only businesses located in existing buildings would be eligible for the program, which would offer reduced parking requirement alternatives, grant reduced parking requirement requests, and more.

“We really appreciate all of your input,” Nichols said. “That’s what made this list so packed full of good ideas.”

A variety of Easter activities to be held locally

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 11:17

Celebrate spring with local egg hunts and activities at the following events on Saturday, April 19:

• Torrey Hills Spring Egg Hunt at Torrey Hills Community Park, 4262 Calle Mejillones. In addition to the egg hunt, the event will feature games, music, jumpers and face painting for kids from 9 a.m. to noon.  The hunt is divided by age groups: 0-2 year olds at 9:30 a.m.; 3-5 year olds at 9:40 a.m.; 6-8 year olds at 9:50 a.m.; and 9 and up at 10 a.m. A scavenger hunt for ages 10 and up will run from 9-11:30 a.m. Arrive on time and bring your own basket. For more information, call (858) 552-1687.

•Carmel Valley Recreation Center Spring Egg Hunt: 9 a.m.-noon, Ages: 0-9+ years, Spring Egg Hunt: Arts and crafts, inflatable jumper, photo with the rabbit, treats and prizes. Where: 3777 Townsgate Drive – San Diego, CA 92130; (858) 552-1616.

• Solana Beach Spring Egg Hunt and Children’s Festival at La Colonia Park at 10:30 a.m.

• Flower Hill Promenade’s Easter Egg Treasure Hunt. Families are invited to check in at Geppetto’s Toys to receive their treasure map, which gives hints to select Flower Hill shops where they can receive a stamp on their map and Easter treats. When finished, they can return their completed map to Geppetto’s for a special prize. The Easter Bunny will also be there to pose for photos from 12-2 p.m.

• The Barnes & Noble at the Del Mar Highlands Town Center, from 11 a.m. to noon will host a Peter Rabbit Easter Egg Hunt storytime.

San Diego Botanic Garden’s Spring Party with Bunny brings all of the quintessential spring themes to one place for your children to interact with and enjoy. The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 19, with an early party from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and a late party 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Children ages 2 to 6 can visit the gentle big Bunny for photos and fun, make colorful spring crafts, pet real rabbits and chicks, and go on a parade through the garden, which will end with a “stuffed bunny hunt.”

Children will also create a variety of spring-themed crafts, including making their own bunny ears to wear at the party, along with their face being painted with a pink nose and whiskers to match. They will paint a ceramic

Space is limited to 50 children per party and preregistration is required.  Pre-register your child online or in person at the garden’s office. Pre-registration by phone, e-mail or mail are not accepted. San Diego Botanic Garden is at 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas. Visit

Carmel Valley student qualifies for USA Computational Linguistics Olympiad Team

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 07:44

Catherine Wu

Canyon Crest Academy Senior Catherine Wu has made the USA Computational Linguistics Olympiad Team and will represent the United States to compete at the International Computational Linguistics Olympiad this summer.

This Olympiad is a contest in which high school students solve linguistic puzzles. In solving the problems, students learn about the diversity and consistency of language, while exercising logic skills.  The problems range widely across traditional and computational linguistic topics — from orthography and transcription systems to syntax, semantics, morphology, and phonology, as well as dealing with computational tools such as finite state transducers and combinatorial categorial grammars. Professionals in linguistics, computational linguistics and language technologies use dozens of languages to create engaging problems that represent cutting edge issues in their fields.

It is truly an opportunity for young people to experience a taste of natural-language processing in the 21st century.

In addition, as a Gold Medalist at the International Biology Olympiad last year, once again Catherine Wu has qualified as one of 20 students national-wide for the U.S. National Biology Olympiad (USBO).  She has won the opportunity to attend the Biology Olympiad Camp.  At the beginning of June, Catherine — along with 19 national finalists — will attend a nationally-recognized institution for a two-week training. At the end of the two weeks, four students will be selected to represent the United States to compete at the International Biology Olympiad, which will be held in Bali, Indonesia, in July.

Catherine has been accepted by Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and MIT.  She will likely attend Harvard this fall.

Man injured in Solana Beach fire

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 07:40

By City News Service

A man suffered burns on 50 percent of his body in an apartment fire in Solana Beach early April 16, authorities said.

The fire, which occurred at 833 South Cedros Ave., erupted around 2 a.m., according to San Diego County Sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Tomaiko.

Tomaiko said firefighters and deputies responded to a call reporting a smell of smoke coming from the adjacent apartment to the reporting party.

Upon arrival deputies observed smoke coming from the roof vent of the apartment building. Deputies assisted the fire department with breaching the locked apartment door. While the fire department evaluated the residence, deputies began evacuations and evacuated six apartments. Firefighters located a male victim inside the apartment with obvious burn injuries of his upper extremities.

Firefighters rescued the injured man and took him to UC San Diego Burn Center to treat serious burns covering 50 percent of his body, Tomaiko said.

Because a serious injury occurred, the sheriff’s bomb arson unit was called to investigate the cause of the blaze.

— Some of this information was taken from a Sheriff’s report.

Carnitas’ Snack Shack coming to Del Mar Highlands

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 07:38

Carnitas’ Snack Shack, San Diego’s “original fast-casual porkhouse,” is coming to Del Mar Highlands Town Center to fill the spot left vacant by The Counter. This will be the second location for the Snack Shack; Chef Hanis Cavin and Sara Stroud opened their popular first location in North Park in 2011, with lines often stretching out the door.

The eatery specializes in pork-centric American cuisine, snacks and locally-sourced craft beers. The menu changes daily as they serve up local, farm fresh food such as pork belly, carnitas tacos, steak sandwiches, turkey meatballs and seasoned fries with bacon ketchup. The eatery’s Triple Threat Pork Sandwich includes pork loin schnitzel, pulled pork and bacon. Carnitas’ Snack Shack aims to open its doors in July or August 2014. For updates, follow them on twitter at @CarnitasSnacks2 or visit

— Karen Billing

Del Mar celebrates completion of North Torrey Pines Bridge retrofit and rehabilitation project

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 16:16

City officials and community members gathered April 15 to celebrate the completion of the North Torrey Pines Bridge retrofit and rehabilitation project. Photo/Kristina Houck

By Kristina Houck

More than three years after holding a groundbreaking ceremony at the same spot, city officials and community members gathered to celebrate the completion of the North Torrey Pines Bridge retrofit and rehabilitation project April 15 at the Torrey Pines State Park/Beach parking lot off Carmel Valley Road.

“Today we’re celebrating not only the completion of a construction project, we’re celebrating the much-improved safety of the bridge,” said Del Mar Mayor Lee Haydu during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “We celebrate that we were able to preserve our important piece of history, we look to the future ensuring that this landmark structure lasts at least another 50 years, and we celebrate all the many hours that were invested by so many people in making completion of this project a reality.”

Built in 1933, the bridge connects Camino del Mar with North Torrey Pines Road and borders the city of San Diego. Prior to reconstruction, it was deemed one of the worst in the state as far as its ability to withstand an earthquake.

The $21 million project strengthened the existing bridge, enhancing its ability to survive major seismic activity. The project also extended its life for another 50 years — all while maintaining the historic character of the structure, which San Diego sold to Del Mar for $1 in 2000 when the two cities couldn’t agree on whether to replace or restore it.

“It might look like a simple, straightforward project; however, there were many, many challenges that had to be overcome,” said Zylkia Martin-Yambo, a transportation engineer for the Federal Highway Administration. “It’s located in an environmentally- sensitive area. There’s a train that goes under it. … On top of that, it’s a historic bridge.

“A lot of coordination had to be put into it, a lot of detail, a lot of effort.”

“What a tremendous occasion,” added Gary Vettese, a representative of Caltrans. “I think it’s just a great example of the things that are hard are really worth doing.”

Initially called the “Sorrento Overhead” and constructed as an overhead railroad crossing, the bridge is more than 550 feet long and 49 feet wide, which is equal to the size of two football fields and as tall as a six-story building. In 1996, Del Mar renamed the bridge the North Torrey Pines Bridge.

Primarily funded by a combination of federal and state funding from Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration, the North Torrey Pines Bridge was named “Project of the Year” by the local chapter of the American Public Works Association. The project also received awards from the local chapters of the American Society of Civil Engineers and Construction Management Association of America.

During the ceremony, representatives from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and state Sen. Marty Block’s (D-San Diego) offices also presented commendations to city officials and project supporters.

“This beautiful span is not only the southern gateway into our city, it is a historic landmark,” said Haydu, who noted the bridge was built when construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge. “It is one of the few remaining examples of coastal cast concrete bridge in California.”

Parker Invites Community Builders to Leadercast

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 09:21

By Kevin Yaley, Head of School

At Francis Parker School we seek to inspire and develop tomorrow’s leaders.

Leadership doesn’t simply mean to be in charge. Leadership is inspiring others to take on challenges and reach beyond their expectations.

That is why Parker is inviting San Diegans to attend Leadercast, a daylong leadership-building event on May 9 that will be telecast live from Atlanta at Parker’s Linda Vista Campus.

Speakers at the event include best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Former First Lady Laura Bush and other communications, business and creative leaders.

Leadercast proposes to “build leaders worth following” and we are proud that our own student leaders from the student-run magazine Mosaic are coordinating the presentation of this telecast for a San Diego audience.

You are invited to attend along with current leaders from San Diego’s business, academic, civic and neighborhood communities.

Tickets may be purchased online at and proceeds will be used to support the student publication, Mosaic.

Mosaic magazine is produced by Parker students participating in the Global Journal Project (GJP), a non-profit organization that engages school communities in sharing stories and forming bonds across international and cultural borders.

The articles cover a wide range of topics. Each issue is intended to promote insightful and culturally respectful dialogue.

The magazine is an entirely student run enterprise created in partnership with students from the Preuss School at UCSD. Students oversee curating the stories from local, national and international contributors.

In addition to managing editorial production, students must fundraise to cover the cost of publication and market the magazine.

We hope you’ll plan on attending Leadercast at Francis Parker School on Friday, May 9. Join us as we strive to build students and citizens that will lead us through to a bright and exciting future.

Alum from Torrey Pines High School in Carmel Valley continues effort to increase autism awareness

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 07:45

Andre and Thomas Ohno-Machado. Courtesy photo

By Rob LeDonne

April is Autism Awareness Month and one person who no doubt is taking part in awareness activities is Thomas Ohno-Machado, a 2013 graduate of Torrey Pines High School, who is currently attending UC Santa Cruz.

“Autism affects people who can’t help themselves and have no voice because it’s silenced by a great majority of people who don’t understand what they’re going through,” Ohno-Machado said. “It’s important because the rates are increasing and people will know at least one person in their lifetime who has autism. It’s the most common developmental disorder right now.”

Autism is close to Ohno-Machado’s heart for many reasons, mainly because his middle brother, Andre, has the disorder. “He was diagnosed when he was just 1 and a half,” remembers Ohno-Machado. “I first learned about autism by attending group sessions for young kids with siblings that have it.”

Andre’s diagnosis took the family by surprise, especially Andre and Thomas’ mother, Lucila, who is currently the associate dean for informatics for the UC San Diego School of Medicine, and professor and chief of the Division of Biomedical Informatics in the Department of Medicine.

“It was a learning experience for all of us. There’s a big difference from studying something on the outside to experiencing it inside your own family,” Ohno-Machado said. “She was completely new to how things work. You can talk about numbers, statistics and medicines all day, but what it really comes down to is how autism impacts not only the person, but the people around them. My parents understand that well, and all the values I have I’ve gotten from them.”

Ohno-Machado’s mission to raise awareness for autism can be traced to both the local and national level. While at Torrey Pines, he founded the Autism Awareness Club because when he arrived at high school, Ohno-Machado “was thinking of doing something philanthropic,” he said. “I knew a lot of my friends hadn’t even heard of autism, and the ones that did didn’t know much. Plus, I view autsim as a sub-topic of the larger one of treating people equally.”

The club was active throughout Ohno-Machado’s time at Torrey Pines, whether it was attending charity events, holding fundraisers, or volunteering. One highlight was bringing to TPHS guest speaker Peter Jensen, whose autistic son (who attended Torrey Pines) perished during the 2004 tsunami in Thailand.

In addition, Ohno-Machado has traveled to Washington, DC, multiple times to meet with California Senator Barbra Boxer (D) to advocate for better government funding. “I was doing some research and saw that funding was a big issue; some of the numbers are absurd to look at,” Ohno-Machado said. “I wrote a bunch of emails to public officials and got some responses, including from Senator Boxer’s staff. The first time I met her was nerve-wracking for me, but this year my public speaking got a lot better. It was a great experience, but I’m still learning more about it every day.”

Throughout his advocacy, Ohno-Machado is still helping his brother Andre (who currently attends the Institute for Effective Education in Mission Hills) cope with the disorder. “Andre has his ups and downs. Right now, he’s doing well and likes biking and swimming. We always try to keep him active and on a healthy diet.”

As for the progress Autism Awareness has made in the past few years, Ohno-Machado says it’s “nice to see” but more can always be done. “The main reason for the extra awareness is that rates have been going up so quickly. More and more people are being affected by it,” he said. “There’s still a lot of progress to be made in the autism and mental disability area, especially with vocabulary and the way people are portrayed in the media. There’s more to be done, and I hope that happens sooner than later.”

Friends of Gonzales Canyon seeks volunteers, clean-up event to be held April 26

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 07:30

The Sycamore Trail in Gonzales Canyon.

By Karen Billing

The Friends of Gonzales Canyon group is looking for local residents to come out and learn more about the resource that is right in their backyards.

On Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. to noon, the Friends will host a clean-up as part of I Love A Clean San Diego’s Creek to Bay annual event. Volunteers will help remove some old chain link fencing from alongside the trail and thinning eucalyptus saplings from near the Sword Way trailhead.

Freddy Arthur, the captain of the Friends of Gonzales Canyon, hopes people will attend the event and continue to stay involved. Young children can get involved with litter pick-up and light weeding, older kids and adults can assist with larger projects led by group leaders and park rangers, including repairs to trails and fencing.

“We are looking for volunteers who want to come out to a really special place and spend at least three hours making it even better,” Arthur said. “We are looking for rare individuals that will take a leadership role in making Friends of Gonzales Canyon an active and effective group for stewardship and enhancement of the canyon.”

The canyon pops with wildflowers in the spring and several trails wind through to provide a natural escape. Gonzales stretches from communities around Torrey Pines High School out to Old El Camino Real and east to Pacific Highlands Ranch.

Arthur said Gonzales Canyon is special for its wide variety of habitats in a relatively small area. Plant communities include maritime succulent scrub and chaparral, all surrounding a lush strip of riparian woodlands with willows, sycamores and marshes that provide water for the abundant canyon wildlife. Arthur said trail users should know there is some poison oak in the riparian areas, as well, and should learn what it looks like each season.

“Several trails meander through the canyon and are open to dogs to leash, hikers, horses and mountain bikes,” Arthur said.

The Torrey Pines Loop Trail, accessed off the trailhead near Torrey Highlands Park off Lansdale Drive, is the most challenging with 3.5 miles of sometimes steep terrain.

The Sword Way Trail is about two miles of level trail and it can be extended by taking a detour to the Lagoon Trail that winds through the western end of the canyon.

San Diego Canyonlands staff has been working with the city’s open space park rangers and community members to care for Gonzales since 2006.

“Our open spaces are a priceless resource in a rapidly developing area,” said Eric Bowlby, director of San Diego Canyonlands. “San Diego County has more threatened and endangered species than any other county in the contiguous United States and many of those species are dependent on our local canyons for habitat.”

Bowlby said while park rangers keep an eye on these areas, they need volunteer help with trail improvements and restoration projects and to keep people aware of concerns within the canyons.

There are over 150 canyons throughout urban San Diego and San Diego Canyonlands has several Friends groups that promote their mission to protect and restore the natural habitats by fostering education and community involvement, stewardship and advocacy.

Last year, SDCL capped a three-year mission to get nearly 6,600 acres of city-owned canyons and open space dedicated for permanent protection, an act supported by the Carmel Valley, Del Mar Mesa, Torrey Pines and Torrey Hills’ Community Planning boards.

Now that the canyons have become dedicated land, a city-wide vote must be held to use the land for non-park or non-open space purposes.

As part of the dedication and planning for the future, the canyon has been going through a Canyon Enhancement Planning Program.

“We will be focusing in the coming months to increase local knowledge about the canyon through guided hikes and to foster stewardship with monthly cleanup events, trail work days and restoration projects,” said Arthur.

Two Mesa College interns are in the final stages of mapping the existing conditions in Gonzales and community planning workshops to develop an action plan will begin in June. Arthur said he hopes residents will get involved in this important process.

To register for the April 26 cleanup, the Gonzales Canyon site is listed under North County Inland, Zone 2 at Register or simply show up that morning ready to have fun in the canyon.

If interested in joining Friends of Gonzales Canyon, email Freddy Arthur at Those interested in getting out on the trails can find a complete trail map on the San Diego Parks and Recreation website:

Former Ross space in Solana Beach’s Lomas Santa Fe Plaza to remain empty for now

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 07:26

By Kristina Houck

Although it was previously announced HomeGoods would open a new location in the Lomas Santa Fe Plaza shopping center, a representative of the Solana Beach center said a lease has not yet been signed with the chain of home furnishing stores.

“We’re still working through the lease process,” said Chris Sullivan of American Assets Trust, Inc., the plaza’s operator.

During a City Council meeting in February 2013, Councilwoman Lesa Heebner announced HomeGoods would open a store at the site, which is located at 961 Lomas Santa Fe Drive. Ross Dress for Less was previously located at the space, which closed on Jan. 20, 2013, after its lease expired.

Sullivan could not provide any other information as to why a lease has not been signed, or whether a different company would fill the space.

“I have no other updates,” he said.

For more information about Lomas Santa Fe Plaza, including a store directory, visit

Patriot Profiles: ‘It’s like a human game of chess’

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 07:00

This column presents “Patriot Profiles” to provide readers insight into the lives of our country’s heroes.

By Jeanne McKinney

A cleared, mud-walled compound serving as a battlement suddenly explodes with gunfire. A Marine Infantryman peers through the high-powered scope of his M-16 A4 rifle, but can only see so far across a field of dry poppies. He sees a person with a gun in hand on the roof of a concrete bunker. Senses skyrocket among a Marine platoon of Golf Company 2nd Battalion 5th Marines (2/5) as all position to return fire. Squad leader Sergeant Bryan Barrow has his hands full keeping his team in focus, not to mention protecting a civilian cameraman trying to get footage.

“What’s going on right now, Sgt. Barrow?” asked the cameraman. “What’s going man? What’s going on is get down,” yells Barrow as he pulls the guy down behind a wall. “You can’t be doing that, brother. People get killed if you do that.”

Helmand Province, Afghanistan 2013. Sgt. Bryan Barrow (far left) with Marines. Photo courtesy of Sgt. Bryan Barrow (USMC).

Such is real combat that was captured in National Geographic’s “Battleground Afghanistan,” a 2013 TV series. Barrow, along with six other Marine leaders of Golf Company 2/5, were picked to help detail taking the fight to the enemy during Operation Branding Iron. Their mission was to locate and destroy a certain list of Taliban insurgents and crush crucial opium operations that fund the war against America.

Barrow says the hardest part was just as the series’ narrator said, “It was like chasing ghosts.” They knew the Taliban had a stronghold in Zamindawar, known as the most dangerous place in Afghanistan. “That’s why they [the command] wanted to send us there. Of course, we had the best CO to do that, Captain [Ben] Middendorf. He was all about it. We were mostly trying to take out their main command.”

At age 4, Barrow was adopted in St. Louis, Mo., then in 1998 moved with his family to Bisbee, Ariz. After graduating from high school, “I saw everyone else going to college and I’ve never really followed the crowd,” says Barrow. He wanted a challenge and was curious. Family Marine Corps history helped influence his thoughts to sign up.“I wanted to make my adopted dad a little more proud of me.”

Republic of Korea. Sgt. Bryan Barrow. Exercise SSang Yong 2014. Photo by Cpl. Henry Antenor (USMC).

Barrow didn’t want to join the Marine Corps to sit behind a desk. “I figured if you’re going to join what they say is the elite fighting force of the country, if not the world, why wouldn’t you join the fight?” says Barrow, adding, “Most people join the Infantry because they want to go to war. They want to do the gun fighting and come back home with honor and be able to tell their family all the crazy stuff they did.”

Al Anbar, Iraq, 2007, was Barrow’s first deployment at age 19, “We got into one or two firefights that weren’t that heavy or crazy, but it was enough to make people think different than normal.” Exposure to combat, culture shock, and a different work ethic changed how he thought and operated from then on.

“You have to think you’re already dead” is a mindset Barrow latched on to help take away the fear of dying. His first company commander explained, “If you already picture yourself as a dead man, it makes you that much more dangerous to your enemy.” He also told Barrow’s Bravo Company that while they are home on leave before deployment, “Enjoy your time with your family, but I want you to think of what your enemy is doing right now. They don’t have vacation time — the whole time they’re preparing.”

Preparation and testing were evident to Barrow and fellow Marines in Iraq. “They have ways to do about anything they want…down to as simple as throwing a rock at a soldier or Marine and see how they react. A main concern for us was vehicle-borne IEDS.” They would drive behind patrols and ignore orders to stop, pushing how far they could go before someone pointed a weapon or shot off a warning pyrotechnic.

“We had to go through so many steps before we could fire one round — that’s how careful our command would always want to be utilizing rounds in civilian situations. This guy could simply be testing how close they can get to us…it helps them determine how big they want to make their vehicle-borne IED.”

“They tested us every day,” Barrow said while thinking back to the time he was fighting the enemy. “They knew what the capabilities were of our scopes on our weapons. They knew about how far out we could see. They are always figuring out new ways to adapt to what we are doing. It’s like a human game of chess.”

In “Battleground Afghanistan,” Barrow and his platoon were shown traversing open ground, exposed to the enemy who are able to shoot through small openings in compounds called “murder holes.”  Barrow says, “You really can’t worry about it. You’re scared, nervous, anxious, excited, determined – even thankful that after each step you haven’t lost a leg yet or seen anyone in front or behind you lose a leg or even hear about it over the radio happening to another person. You have to be confident in what you’re doing — if you’re not, the enemy will see that because they are always watching you.”

Barrow, nicknamed “bulldog” in the TV series, affirms, “I’m not going to lose any guys.” Control can be hard-won for a squad leader. “Half the time you have to fight your own guys before you can fight the enemy,” says Barrow. “Once the chaotic atmosphere unearths itself – rears its face – you’re in what we call ‘the rush of things’ in enemy contact. Marines that aren’t so experienced can be a little all over the place — freak out. That’s why we do so much training before we go.”

How much is skill and how much instinct? Barrow says, “It definitely fluctuates.” During their first Branding Iron engagement, his interpreter shared, “I have a bad feeling about this.” Platoon leader Lt. Neal Jones, who travelled with Barrow said, “How much do you want to bet we’re going to get shot at right now?” “I didn’t take the bet”, says Barrow, “Sure enough, a few steps later we got shot at.”

“The most intense [challenge] is being shot at and not knowing where it’s coming from and not knowing when and if you can shoot back.” Barrow learned Arabic, enough to understand and get his points across. Yet he could never be sure if he was talking to friend or enemy. After two weeks of fighting “Taliban ghosts” Barrow’s platoon claimed mission success without any losses.

There’s no better reward for Barrow than calling the people he serves with “brothers.” “I would do more for them than I would a blood brother, because of what we’ve done together and been through.”

Barrow gets antsy talking about his life on the combat side with civilians who he says “hear him, but don’t understand him” and finds peace when talking with fellow Marines who do. He worries “about starting all over again. I’ve built a lot of rapport and respect. It means something over here.” Barrow’s achievement awards and trophies are passed forward, “The first thing I do when I go home is give them to one of my family members.”

Barrow is currently deployed with the 31st MEU, which recently participated in Exercise SSang Yong 2014 in the Republic of Korea, building tactical alliances alongside South Korean Marines. The fighters returning from the last war chapter in Afghanistan leave freedom’s footprint on hardened soil and hand their world-class legacy to junior Marines. Memorable contributions and experiences remain with Barrow who will always keep his door open to help his brothers, “I’ve done more than leave my name in Golf Company – definitely.”

Deadly car crashes on 56 impetus for stronger median barrier, according to report

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 07:00

By Suzanne Evans

Several major collisions on CA State Highway 56 in less than a year have prompted California State Assembly Member Brian Maienschein, 77th District, and KUSI’s Michael Turko (Turko Files) to urge Caltrans to fix a deadly stretch of the highway that has claimed new victims every few months.

Maienschein’s senior field representative, Michael Lieberman, reported at the Del Mar Mesa planning board’s April 10 meeting that the Assemblyman continues to focus on preventing the deadly crashes.

“Caltrans needs to step up and install safety measures,” Maienschein said in a phone call after the meeting.

Recently, Turko interviewed heartbroken parents of a college student who lost his life in a head-on collision.  An intoxicated man crossing the median hit their son at a combined head-on speed of 129 MPH “in the blink of an eye” last May on Highway 56.  “Nothing was done!” complained Turko, about what he termed the 56 “death trap.”  A 22-year-old woman was left with serious brain damage after a separate head-on collision.

In another accident on Jan. 3, 2014, three people sustained major injuries when a westbound car crossed into eastbound lanes of the freeway near Black Mountain Road.

Caltrans has argued that because the 56 freeway’s median is wider than 75 feet, it doesn’t need a guardrail.

Del Mar Mesa board members agreed that installing plants in the median would not prevent accidents, and a permanent solution, such as a concrete barrier, is needed.

“Guard rails would be an obvious solution, but I don’t want to tie Caltrans’ hands regardless of an estimated completion plan [of 2020].  I’ve done both meetings and calls, and will continue to advocate,” said Maienschein.

Torrey Hills planning board may stop enhancement project, says cost too high

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 08:45

By Karen Billing

The Torrey Hills Community Planning Board continues to resist the idea of having the city spend hundreds of thousands of community money on a simple enhancement project.

“It started out as a wonderful idea to make an area that was a little bit of a blight look nice,” said board chair Kathryn Burton. “But the costs are just out of line…Any homeowner in Torrey Hills would be appalled at spending this kind of money for what’s essentially a boulder, gravel and a bench.”

Due to the costs of the proposed enhancement of 1.5 acres under the power lines on East Ocean Air Drive, the board may consider just stopping the project altogether.

City staff and consultants presented plans for the enhancement in January and reported that they could start construction in March 2015. The estimated construction cost would be $231,000, plus soft costs for the environmental process and a site development permit which can be as much as $100,000. Potentially, the enhancement could end up costing the entire amount in the Torrey Hills maintenance assessment district (MAD) budget: $441,000.

At its Feb. 18 board meeting, the board voted to send a letter to the city to request a stop in spending on the project, as already $75,000 has already been spent, including $20,000 for Estrada Land Planning for what the board said was just “two pages” of planning and design work. Burton said the city projects another $75,000 for future consultant work.

The board asked Ali Darvishi, the supervising project manager and deputy city engineer, to provide a list of costs on the project as well as potential cost savings. They asked whether the site would really require temporary irrigation and if their MAD  (Maintenance Assessment District) would be allowed to maintain the site in lieu of the proposed 25-month maintenance and monitoring program.

In a letter to the board, Darvishi said it is possible that hand-watering could replace the irrigation system but the method has not been effective in the past with the kind of hydroseed mix planned for the site. He said they could save $76,500 by eliminating the temporary irrigation system and the base under the decomposed granite trail, bringing the new construction cost to $153,000, with total project costs of $332,000.

Darvishi’s letter said that $53,000 of additional savings could be realized with the elimination of DG paving, boulders, bench, shade structure, dry creek and the five-gallon trees. The new construction total would be reduced to $100,000, with total project costs of $279,000.

Last year the board approved spending $290,000 on a project that included things such as the paving, boulders and benches. Without even those, not much is left of the original intent of the project, Burton said.

Canyon Crest students in Carmel Valley win a variety of awards at Encinitas Film Fest

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 08:06

Students from Canyon Crest's Envision Cinema Conservatory at the First Annual Encinitas Film Festival. Courtesy photo

By Rob LeDonne

At the recent first annual Encinitas Student Film Festival, four students from Canyon Crest Academy’s Envision Cinema department took home top honors and received the Award of Excellence, Award of Distinction, and People’s Choice Award for their short film “Milquetoast.” The film, about at a girl who can’t express her emotions facially, was the brainchild of senior Jason Phillips and classmates Richard Duan, Jennifer Smart and Andrew Boyles.

“Getting congratulated and praised for ‘Milquetoast’ is an amazing feeling,” Phillips said. “We’re really honored and thankful that it was received so well and all the hard work we put into it paid off.” Added Mark Raines, the Envision Cinema coordinator at Canyon Crest: “I am so proud of how well our students did at the festival. The creativity and production value displayed in their work is awesome.”

Canyon Crest had a total of nine films in the festival and they were produced by students in the Academy’s after-school program, Envision Cinema Conservatory. According to Raines, the conservatory is “a credited high school visual art course designed to train, prepare, and guide students in video and film production.”

“I first got involved in the conservatory through meeting other members,” said Phillips, who is planning to go on to study film production at USC in the fall. “It’s been an amazing experience to learn about film and start making these shorts. Plus, Mr. Raines is a huge mentor to all of us. He teaches teamwork and leadership, and I’ve learned so much about myself as a filmmaker from what he’s taught us.”

Along with making short films, the students at Canyon Crest work on a variety of projects throughout the year, including editing TED Talks, producing minute-long short films, and two-minute-long documentaries. The submission to the festival was done through its official website. The chosen films were screened at the historic La Paloma Theater in Encinitas, and films were split up into two categories: the Junior Division (with films made by students who are between 1st and 8th grade) and the Senior Division (9th through 12th).

Raines said that seeing his students succeed is one of the many perks of his job: “I have the amazing opportunity to create an environment that helps students find, discover, and explore an exciting visual art area that could lead to a career in video, film, or television, but I also really enjoy teaching students skills in a real world context that could help them in every aspect of their personal or professional life. Plus, I’m extremely fortunate to work at a school where the administration empowers the staff and students to thrive and succeed.”

For now, the students at the Conservatory will continue to hone their craft and perhaps set their sights on Hollywood. “After college, I hope to work in film somewhere,” said Phillips. “I’d like to direct and maybe act… but first I have to see where the world takes me.”

Accomplished playwright happy to be back at North Coast Rep in Solana Beach

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 07:55

Actress Rosina Reynolds and playwright Lionel Goldstein. Courtesy photo

By Kristina Houck

Lionel Goldstein never wanted to be a playwright. In fact, he spent decades being just about everything but a playwright.

From electrician and hairdresser, to antique silver dealer and slot machine repairman, Goldstein held a series of jobs in multiple fields before entering the arts.

“I didn’t want to do it at all,” said the 78-year-old British writer, whose “Mandate Memories” made its world premiere April 9 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach.

Goldstein started writing short stories at age 19. He wrote his first novel in his 20s, and three more in his 30s.

He reluctantly became a playwright when executives at the BBC asked him to adapt his second novel, “The Executioner,” into a play for television.

“I sent them an outline and they wanted me to write a play,” he recalled. “I resisted. I said, ‘I don’t have a play, I don’t want to write a play and I’m not a playwright.’”

After a bit of persuasion, he eventually took on the job. The BBC produced the play in 1980.

Nearly 35 years later, Goldstein, 78, recently introduced his latest work to North Coast Rep.

A two-person drama set in an old house in Berkshire, England, “Mandate Memories” follows Gustav Frolich, an 80-year-old Jewish Holocaust survivor, and Jane Stirling, a 62-year-old English widow. Frolich wants to share something with Stirling, but she isn’t receptive because Jewish terrorists killed the father she never knew during the days of the British Mandate for Palestine.

While the play is set in 2009, its title is derived from the era of Middle East history just before the 1948 founding of Israel. Although its characters and story do not come from his own memories, the play somewhat brings Goldstein full circle to his childhood. As a child, he and his family evacuated London several times during World War II.

“The play is really about redemption and how people react when they’re confronted with completely different circumstances — when ordinary people are changed by extraordinary events,” Goldstein said.

This isn’t the first time Goldstein has worked with the Solana Beach-based theater.

North Coast Rep’s Artistic Director David Ellenstein directed Goldstein’s “Halpern and Johnson” at the local theater, in addition to productions in Maine, Miami and Portland.

“Mandate Memories” was also presented as a reading at North Coast Rep a few years ago.

“It’s such a delight,” said Goldstein. “It’s extremely pleasant. It’s a very dedicated and competent team.”

Although he didn’t want to be a playwright initially, Goldstein has grown to love collaborating with others on stage. What he enjoys most about his career is creating something that gives others an opportunity to also create.

“The thing I enjoy most is it gives people employment,” he said.

“Once I did some scenes in a London underground train station, complete with a train and everything. There were loads and loads of people for that day’s filming. That gave me a big kick that I had written something that gave employment to loads and loads of people. That was nice.”

“Mandate Memories” runs through May 4 at North Coast Rep, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive.

“Enjoyment — just the same as with everything else. That’s what I hope the audience takes from this play,” Goldstein said. “That’s why I write.”

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit