continued Also, the report uses different vehicle mixes when analyzing chronic health hazards, air quality, and noise. Mangarelli insists that it should use only one, the "standard vehicle mix," which includes 5 percent diesel vehicles. "In the health hazard study -- that's asthma and other noncancerous hazards to children's lungs -- they took a mix of gasoline vehicles only," he says. "So they barely got under the health hazard [limit]. If they had used the standard mix for that one too, they probably would have failed it.
"Same thing with traffic noise. They wrote in a preliminary study that if it exceeded 65 decibels, it would be over the noise limit. It came in at 72 decibels. So they said, 'We'll change the category from a park and playground to outdoor spectator sport,' another category the City has that is something like an event at Qualcomm. Then they bumped up the allowable decibels to 75 and said it passes."
The ways in which the two sides see the issue of traffic noise near the Stater Bros. site may provide a clue to the ultimate nature of the dispute. Mangarelli sees it as something that will undermine the quality of recreation that kids will be able to experience at the skate park. Andy Berg states that the freeway noise is an advantage, because it will drown out the noise the skate park's users make. And that is why, he says, that the location on Carmel Mountain Road is better than Hilltop Park, where a slightly higher elevation than that of the surrounding homes would allow noise from the skate park to reach its neighbors and disturb them.
When asked why Hilltop Park was abandoned as the site for the skate park, T.J. Zane, president of the Peñasquitos Town Council, said, "My gut assumption is that NIMBYism killed it." Fred Mangarelli agrees. He talks about a change in the composition of the recreation council that started to take place in 1999. Becoming an at-large voting member of the council requires only that local residents write a letter after attending three of its meetings. From 1999 forward, greater and greater numbers of Peñasquitos residents living close to Hilltop Park, especially on Oviedo Street, began seeking to become councilmembers. Stuck into a map of the area today, Mangarelli points to pins representing members' addresses, which show a clustering around the Oviedo Street neighborhood below Hilltop. The Council's current membership is 41, and 22 of them live on Oviedo.
Before Scott Peters began running for election to the San Diego City Council, the City had been pushing for a larger sports complex at Hilltop Park than Mangarelli and other supporters of the skate park originally sought. Bladium Sports Clubs from the San Francisco Bay Area was going to build and operate it. But local residents got Bladium to withdraw and stopped the plan with a petition drive that collected over 1600 signatures.
The key wording in the opening paragraph of that petition read as follows: "I do not want a $2 million commercial adult sports complex built at Hilltop Community Park.... What I do want is a neighborhood-sized noncommercial facility for our children that is more appropriate for the area and the park."
Mangarelli says that the petition was significant as much for what it requested as what it rejected. The City set aside approximately $650,000 for a smaller facility at Hilltop, and plans began for a skate park there. "Even the Oviedo Street residents understood that it had to be there," he says. "We asked the City to hire a consultant to do a general development plan. And then Scott Peters took office and killed it. About a year later he came up with the Stater Bros. site. So those residents had gotten to him. I don't know if he's paying back a political debt for their support in the election or, after hearing one side of the argument, he only became convinced the skate park shouldn't be at Hilltop."