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About 100 concerned citizens and business owners poured into the Mira Mesa Community Planning Group meeting room on September 16, requiring many people to stand in the corridor because the hot, stuffy room was packed. It was an even larger turnout than the May meeting, when the room was also crowded to overflow capacity.

At both of these meetings the majority of people were citizens of Sorrento Valley, there to voice their support for the removal of “Mira Mesa” signs that had popped up all over Sorrento Valley in March; they also wanted to encourage the planning group to recognize Sorrento Valley boundaries as shown on the City of San Diego map of neighborhoods.

Just prior to the August meeting, the boundary issue was discussed and voted on by a subcommittee formed by the Mira Mesa planning group specifically for the purpose of defining the neighborhood boundaries of Sorrento Valley. During the subcommittee meeting, presentations were made for each of the maps. The subcommittee, which included members of the planning group and residents of Sorrento Valley, voted 9-4-0 to recognize the city’s map of neighborhoods and keep Sorrento Valley intact.

Although this vote was relayed to the full planning group board meeting that immediately followed, no recommendation was made. This was a contentious issue among Sorrento Valley residents. Julia Schriber, president of the Sorrento Valley Town Council, pointed out to the board, “Your bylaws clearly state that the subcommittee is supposed to make a recommendation to the board, based on its vote.”

John Horst, president of the Mira Mesa planning group, after fielding numerous comments from the Sorrento Valley-dominated audience, ended the debate by saying that the board “needed more time” and would resolve the issue at the next meeting in September with a vote on whether the boundaries are as delineated on city maps, or as shown on the map drawn by the Mira Mesa planning group, which limits Sorrento Valley to the Pacific Ridge and Wateridge developments.

However, the September agenda did not list the Sorrento Valley neighborhood boundary issue on it. The agenda came too late to stop the Sorrento Valley overflow crowd from showing up to support the established neighborhood boundaries. Only a small fraction of speakers were able to give their three minutes of comment time.

Ted Brengel, a Mira Mesa planning group board member, Mira Mesa Town Council president, and maintenance assessment district member, tried to make a motion to push the public comment portion to the end of the meeting, but many visitors protested that the group’s bylaws didn’t allow for that. Brengel was chastised at one point by several members of the audience for making disparaging comments under his breath about what the speakers were saying; his voice was audible to the closely packed crowd.

A resident from Wateridge who identified herself as a bail bondsman said that her clients are all criminals from nearby areas but that none of them live in Sorrento Valley, referring to the neighborhood’s very low crime rate. Another resident stated that she was a realtor and that Sorrento Valley is known by her customers and preferred to other nearby, albeit lower-priced, areas.

Sorrento Valley resident and business owner Mike Schriber pointed out that the purpose of the planning group is to “make recommendations to various governmental agencies on land-use matters; therefore, adjusting neighborhood boundaries, promoting a single neighborhood and putting up neighborhood signage and/or monuments is outside of the planning group’s charter.”

Schriber theorized to the board that the Mira Mesa planning group is confusing “community planning areas” with neighborhoods, pointing out that San Diego contains 52 community planning areas but over 100 neighborhoods. Many planning areas contain multiple neighborhoods. Schriber added, “The Mira Mesa planning group seems to think that the planning area boundaries are the same as the Mira Mesa neighborhood boundaries. This is not the case.”

According to Tom Derr, Mira Mesa planning group board member and a member of the Mira Mesa Maintenance Assessment District, the Mira Mesa signs were put up at the request of the maintenance assessment district. The Mira Mesa planning group board had initially denied any knowledge of who ordered the signs or why. It was later discovered that the maintenance assessment district membership is composed almost entirely of Mira Mesa planning group board members.

Susan Carolin is a representative of the Sorrento Valley Town Council. The original version of this article is posted on the Sorrento Valley Town Council website.

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