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With well over 100 agitated Sorrento Valley residents and business owners clad in “Sorrento Valley, a Neighborhood of San Diego” T-shirts and waving “Stop the Mira Mesa Land Grab!” signs, the Qualcomm auditorium was packed at the October 21 meeting of the Mira Mesa Community Planning Group.

The Sorrento Valley campaign to reclaim its identity as a neighborhood of San Diego erupted in March, in reaction to the “Mira Mesa” signs that had suddenly appeared throughout the neighborhood. This issue was put to rest at this meeting, when representative for councilmember Lori Zapf, Kenny Nakayama, announced that the signs would be removed in “respect to how the residents in Sorrento Valley feel about their identification.”

The other hot issue at the meeting was the proposed redefining of the Sorrento Valley boundaries. A subcommittee made up of both board members and Sorrento Valley residents voted in August to keep Sorrento Valley boundaries as defined in the City of San Diego Neighborhoods Map.

In September, word got out to residents, however, that the Mira Mesa planning group would ignore this finding and recommend adoption of their version of the neighborhood map, which reduced the Sorrento Valley area to a single housing development.

Although many speakers pointed out examples of local and national recognition of Sorrento Valley, throughout the meeting, confusion ensued between a “Community Planning Area” and a “neighborhood” among the Mira Mesa planning group board members.

Residents such as Wendy Zamut, of the Wateridge Townhomes development, expressed that the issue was only about “community identity and pride,” not the wish to opt out of the Mira Mesa Community Plan.

Many acknowledged in their allotted three minutes' speaking time that they respected the work that the group had done over the years, but that with the placement of “Mira Mesa” signs in their neighborhood and the many instances where “Sorrento Valley” had been replaced with “Mira Mesa,” residents said they felt their neighborhood identity was being renamed without their consent.

Speakers pointed out these changes on Google Maps, Wikipedia, and Yahoo!, as well as Zapf’s District 6 map, which, unlike other district maps, only shows one community name across the entire district. Many expressed the need for the neighborhood to be acknowledged by the board and for Zapf to avoid a repeat of the misplaced signage issue.

At times tempers flared, and after a long and heated exchange, the Mira Mesa planning group finally acknowledged that it did not have the authority to change neighborhood maps. Mira Mesa planning group president John Horst said, “That was never our intention.”

Julia Schriber, president of the Sorrento Valley Town Council, brought up the issue of how to go about removing the “Welcome to Mira Mesa” stone monument at the I-805 off-ramp. The board informed her that she would need to take that up with the Mira Mesa Maintenance Assessment District, which is made up of members from the Mira Mesa planning group.

The Sorrento Valley Town Council had applied to occupy an open "business seat" on the Mira Mesa planning group in August, and this was brought up at the meeting.

After deliberations by Horst on whether the Mira Mesa planning group board would be able to keep the seat vacant until 2015 rather than allow the Sorrento Valley Town Council to join, Horst eventually allowed Schriber the opportunity to join the board.

She was voted in by a majority of the 15-person board, at which point the auditorium went wild, clapping and cheering ecstatically.

Susan Carolin is secretary of the Sorrento Valley Town Council.

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