By Marshall Kelsay
After reading your editorial of “A Sound Investment,” I felt I had just read an obituary for the Barona Noise & Pollution Action Committee. Before you issue a death certificate, I would ask you and others to wait for a secondary autopsy, one which is based on all the facts.
Your article seemed to parallel the response the Sentinel received from Barona’s Chairman, Edwin “Thorpe” Romero, and I couldn’t help but notice your bias toward the tribe, taking into consideration data which you obviously have not personally reviewed.
As Paul Harvey would say, “and now for the rest of the story.”
I, like many others, purchased a home in the San Diego Country Estates in 1989, because it was beautiful, peaceful and a great place to raise my children. At that time I’m sure I received a disclosure as to the “mini motocross” track and my observations thereafter found it to be a small, occasionally annoying venue catering to youngsters riding 50cc mini bikes. It sounded like bees, occurred once or twice a month, and for the most part it appeared to be a nice pastime for youths.
The drag strip and paintball park which you and Mr. Romero failed to address were not present and were built long after our neighborhood was built out. To compare any of these venues which provide a PASTIME for private individuals to an airport, which serves a large common public interest, is quite a stretch.
In 2009, the Barona Oaks Raceway underwent a major overhaul including a new well, additional fencing, restrooms, redesigned tracks, new equipment and track groomers were instituted which had been in the works for the previous two years. Along with the drag strip and paintball park, these venues now brought a new or more intensive noise and air pollution to our neighborhood, operating at least five days a week. Which brings into question Chairman Romero’s representation, that the motocross track “is enjoyed mainly by youngsters 18 and under.” Should we assume that all those riders out there Wednesday through Friday during school hours are either home schooled or delinquents?
This situation was brought to the attention of Chairman Romero and the tribe in a very respectful manner and they were asked to consider the fact that, when either the motocross or drag strip are operating, residents can’t open their windows, enjoy their yards and are unable to even sell their homes because of the noise and air pollution created by grading equipment, motorcycles, dragsters, public address systems, sirens from emergency responders to include life flight helicopters.
The County of San Diego conducted an extensive study of the problem detailed in their report dated Oct. 4, 2007, of which a copy is available on our Web site sdcefamiles.org. As noted in their comprehensive report, the venues in question have been placed in an amphitheater and the placement of trees or sound attenuation barriers will not be an effective solution to resolve the noise and air issues. Many of the 200 homes affected have replaced their windows with triple pane glass which has somewhat partially alleviated the interior noise but still not to a normal level.