On Monday, March 16, at the bi-annual Mira Mesa Community Planning Group board elections, hundreds of voters turned out to elect representatives for ten open seats. The unprecedented turnout was the latest indicator of a competition between the neighborhoods of Sorrento Valley and Mira Mesa.
Campaigning, rhetoric, and accusatory statements ensued, resulting in both sides taking five seats each; this was seen as a major victory for Sorrento Valley, which, until about a year ago, had no representation on the board.
The board was previously made up entirely of residents and businesses of Mira Mesa, which has about ten times the population of Sorrento Valley.
In previous elections, according to records, the number of ballots counted topped out at 13, but this year, more than 200 people crowded into a February planning group meeting to register to vote at the March election; close to that number returned to vote.
Several Sorrento Valley residents heard mention about the reason for the huge turnout from Mira Mesa (who outnumbered Sorrento Valley residents by about three to one at the polls). According to longtime homeowner and candidate for a seat on the board Wesley Snell, “A couple of people in line said that an email was sent by someone strongly urging them to show up at the polls to defeat the people from Sorrento Valley who were trying to ‘take over the board.’ The email was clear: these newcomers have only one thing on their agenda, and it isn’t concern for the welfare of Mira Mesa; it is solely about getting their ‘Sorrento Valley’ signs up!”
Sorrento Valley signage became an issue after the Mira Mesa Community Planning Group okayed the placing of “Mira Mesa” signs within the neighborhood of Sorrento Valley a year and a half ago. The signs were eventually removed after complaints were lodged, but the backlash since has included the request for Sorrento Valley signage and heightened awareness and involvement in community affairs. The Sorrento Valley Town Council was formed as a result of this new-found civic interest and has been working to promote the neighborhood identity ever since.
City planning groups weigh in on zoning and land use issues for designated areas. Sorrento Valley stretches out over three planning areas because of the large number of high-tech businesses located there. The neighborhood is included in the Mira Mesa, University, and Torrey Pines planning areas.
Disclaimer: Susan Carolin lives in Sorrento Valley and is a general member of the planning group and part of the Mira Mesa Community Planning Group election subcommittee.