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November 6, 2018 — California General Election

City of Del MarCandidate for City Council

Photo of Terry Gaasterland

Terry Gaasterland

1,453 votes (53.4%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Long-term plan to preserve our beaches, bluffs and wetlands, protect neighborhoods from flooding, and protect. I chaired Del Mar’s Sea Level Rise committee for 3 years. We placed sand replenishment and retention at highest priority.
  • Action plan to underground utilities, protect our neighborhoods from fire, and improve views. Risk from wildfires puts poles at Crest Canyon, Oribia and San Dieguito at highest priority. Next: proactive neighborhoods with plans in place.
  • From the proposed north Bluff Resort to the home next door, we must ensure projects meet Del Mar values. The Bluff Resort has potential to transform Del Mar through increased traffic, congestion, and density. A vote of the people for zoning changes.



Profession:Professor / Scientist / Entrepreneur
Professor, University of California, San Diego (2003–current)
Member, Design Review Board — Appointed position (2017–current)
Chair and Member, Sea Level Rise Stakeholders Advisory Committee — Appointed position (2015–2018)
Chair, Finance Committee — Appointed position (2010–2010)
Member, Finance Committee — Appointed position (2008–2009)
Associate Professor and Head of Laboratory, The Rockefeller University (2002–2003)
Assistant Professor and Head of Laboratory, The Rockefeller University (1998–2002)
Staff Scientist, Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy (1994–1998)
Enrico Fermi Scholar (postdoc), Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy (1992–1994)


Department of Energy Postdoctoral Scholar, Genomics and Computational Biology (1994)
University of Maryland Ph.D., Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence (1992)
University of Maryland M.S., Computer Science, Distributed Systems (1988)
Duke University B.S., Computer Science & Russian (1984)

Community Activities

Vice President, International Society for Computational Biology (2010–current)
Member, Wounded Warrior Project (2018–current)
Member (Senior Member since 2015), Association of Computing Machinery (1980–current)
Member, Del Mar Historical Society (2016–current)
Co-Founder, International Society for Computational Biology (1997–1997)


A 15 year resident of Del Mar, Terry Gaasterland is a scientist, professor and entrepreneur who has contributed 8 years of community service to Del Mar.  Her qualifications include:



8 years Community Service protecting the Community Plan:

Finance Committee member and Chair (2008 - 2010)

Sea Level Rise Advisory Committee Chair (2015 - 2018)

Design Review Board member (2017 - present)


Current position - Scientist:

Tenured Professor, Computational Biology and Genomics, Univ. California San Diego

Member, Institute for Genomic Medicine, UCSD

Muir College Faculty, UCSD

Co-Founder and Vice-Pres. (re-elected 4 terms) Intl. Society for Computational Biology 

100+ published research articles on  genomes and genetic basis of human disease 



Duke University, 1984 - BS, Computer Science & Russian

University of Maryland, 1988 - MS, Computer Science, Systems

University of Maryland, 1992 - PhD, Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence


Prior Experience:

Design Engineer 1984-1988 - Texas Instruments, Process Control Systems

Enrico Fermi Scholar, 1992-1994 - US Department of Energy

Computer Science Faculty, 1994-1998 - University of Chicago

Head of Lab, 1998 - 2003 - The Rockefeller University



Presidential Award (PECASE), 2000 - US National Science Foundation

NYC Mayor's Award for Excellence in Science & Technology, 2003

Fellow, International Society for Computational Biology, 2018


Biotechnology Entrepreneur:
Co-founded, advised, and consulted for biotechnology companies aimed at understanding gene systems for improved drug development and understanding risk for disease.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Run Women Run
  • Dave Druker (Deputy Mayor, Del Mar)
  • Mark Wyland (former CA State Senator)

Organizations (1)

  • Run Women Run (non-partisan)

Elected Officials (1)

  • Dave Druker (Deputy Mayor)

Individuals (4)

  • Pamela Slater-Price (former County Supervisor)
  • Mark Wyland (former CA State Senator)
  • Gay Hugo-Martinez (former City Council Member)
  • Jacqueline Winterer (former Mayor)

Questions & Answers

Questions from The League of Women Voters North County San Diego (3)

Do you support increasing the housing density in Del Mar? What other options might there be for improving the City's supply of affordable housing?
Answer from Terry Gaasterland:

The Fairgrounds factored into the formulas that defined Del Mar’s affordable housing obligation.  We need to work with the Fairgrounds to renovate existing housing to help fulfill our State-required obligation.  Del Mar’s 22-in-7 study showed that multi-family units grew just 2% in the past decade.  With a growth rate much slower than other cities in the county, Del Mar will need to be creative about how to establish affordable housing.  In addition to working with the Fairgrounds, I strongly support evaluating how to dedicate some of our existing apartment housing that is already in the affordable range.

Do you approve of the City's current approach to addressing the problems of homelessness in Del Mar? What specific changes, if any, would you make?
Answer from Terry Gaasterland:

I support addressing homelessness by providing shelter together with counseling and support. People become homeless for many reasons.  Helping a person get out of homelessness requires a mailing address, medical evaluation to help get any chronic problems under control, mentoring to help define a plan for a way of life that is sustainable. Del Mar has a small homeless population. I want to see them receive the attention, assistance, and long-term support needed to start over.

Do you advocate any changes to Del Mar's current policies regarding recreational and medical cannabis businesses? Please explain.
Answer from Terry Gaasterland:

I support Del Mar's current policies regarding recreational and medical cannabis businesses.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

Terry has spent her life trying to improve the lives of people who need it most. She is running for City Council because she wants to be a part of shaping Del Mar’s future and bring back a level of openness and respect that has been missing from City Hall. She will listen to all sides of an issue before deciding how to vote andstrive to arrive at fair decisions that put Del Mar's Residents First.

One of Terry's priorities is to protect the unique and special character of Del Mar. She supports Local Control and will follow the Community Plan when deciding Land Use issues. Utility undergrounding is an immediate priority for Measure Q funds. Del Mar needs to complete Streetscape and establish plans for Shores Park as part of building a vital downtown. Del Mar needs a financial plan for annual beach sand replenishment.

Protecting the safety of our community is also extremely important. Terry will work toward enhanced Sheriff services and improved response times. Del Mar needs a fire protection plan for Crest Canyon, and the San Dieguito and hillside neighborhoods. Del mar also needs safe access to our bluffs and beach, with no fencing along the railroad tracks.

As a member of Del Mar's City Council she will keep her door open and listen respectfully as she strives to do her best for Del Mar.  Join Terry and learn more about her vision for Del Mar at


Position Papers

Proposed Del Mar Bluff Resort


Major zoning changes and changes to the Community Plan must go to a vote of the people.

As a candidate for Del Mar City Council, I feel compelled to express my concern.


Today is one step in a process important to Del Mar. I look forward to new plans that respond to today’s input.


That said, even so:


o   This project is unprecedented in Del Mar in its size and location. 


o   It requires a major zoning change. 


o   It involves a property with a deed restriction to maintain open space adjacent to the Bluff Preserve.


o   Del Mar’s Community Plan calls for preservation of open space along the north bluffs.


Because this project would require a major zoning change from low density residential to very high density commercial, and a change that runs counter to the Community Plan, I believe it should go to a vote of the people of Del Mar.



                                                                                                            Terry Gaasterland

Terry's Top Priorities


Top Ten Plus One Priorities - Let's Get Them Done!

«Underground the wires and polesFire safety from 
Crest Canyon to the bluffs. Improve our views.

 No poles at our front doors. «Proposed Del Mar Resort– Must go to a vote of the people.
Our Community Plan allows one home per acre on north bluffs.
This massive commercial development would forever change Del Mar.

   The people should decide. «Climate Change is real and getting worse– 
Sea level rise is a threat without a Protection Plan. 
Sand replenishment is vital. So is bluff drainage. 
  No Managed Retreat. «Wildfires are an extreme risk to our community– 
Update fire protection plans, trim trees, clear brush.  
  Prepare and protect Crest Canyon and Del Mar. «Fight fencing along the tracksTwo at-grade crossings between 11th and 7th. The 1909 deed could be the key.  
Sign petition at «Expand Safety Services Increase Park Ranger services at the beach.
Negotiate enhanced Sheriff services with better response times. 
                                                                                       Should be doable within a year. «Short Term Rentals– Coastal Commission rejected City’s 7/28 plan. I have endorsements from all sides. People trust me to work for a policy that will prevent disruption to neighborhoods and preserve Del Mar’s peaceful residential character.                    I pledge to do just that. «Realistic solutions for Affordable Housing– 
Work with Fairgrounds to renovate existing housing to help fulfill the State-required obligations. «Finish Shores Park Complete the Master Plan. Separate play areas for kids and for dogs. Honor Winston lease.

«Strengthen our downtownCompletion of Streetscape is vital. We need a realistic parking plan that promotes our businesses.                      I want to listen to your ideas

«Begin transition to a new City ManagerThe current contract is up in 2020. City Manager is an important position. In our small city, the City Manager interacts directly with many residents on a regular basis and sets tone and pace for the City staff.  I Council oversees the manager - this will be a high priority in the coming year. 


Within these 10+1 priorities, three tasks need immediate attention:

Immediate priorities:


1.    Begin a transition to a new City Manager.  The current contract is up in 2020.  City Manager is an important position.  In our small city, the City Manager interacts directly with many residents on a regular basis and sets tone and pace for the City staff.  The Council oversees the manager, so this will be a high priority in the coming year.


2.    Oppose fencing along the railroad tracks and work with NCTD on a plan for bluff stabilization and beach access that preserves Del Mar’s rights and neighborhood character.




3.    Get undergrounding of poles and wires under-way in neighborhoods at high risk for wildfires.  This includes properties along Crest, San Dieguito and Oribia. Crest Canyon is bone dry.  We need to work with San Diego County and City and the State Parks to clear dead brush. 

What’s IN Del Mar’s Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan?


Tools to protect Del Mar from flooding risk due to sea level rise and climate change.

So many have worked so hard to craft Del Mar’s Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan – newly accepted by Council on May 21, 2018. The plan identifies five highest prioritiesto protect Del Mar from flooding:  

·       Replenish the sand on all beaches as needed on a regular basis.

·       Protect beach access points against flooding and storm surge.

·       Raise the sewer lift station above flood levels or waterproof the pump.

·       Relocate or flood-proof the public works offices, garage and work areas.

·       Relocate or flood-proof the fire station.


For the beach neighborhoods, the plan notes that as river sediment accumulates or as rainstorms drop larger amounts of water or as windstorms surge more forcefully from the sea, roads and bridges, the tennis and basketball courts, parking lots, and low lying beach neighborhoods will experience new or increased flooding. To address these beach-level vulnerabilities, the plan lays out tools:

·       Replenish sand on the beaches.

·       Dredge the river channel.

·       Improve upstream reservoirs for more flood protection.

·       Build levees.

·       Elevate structures.

·       Relocate public infrastructure.

·       Raise and improve sea walls and revetments.


For the bluff neighborhoods, the plan notes that bluff erosion from rising seas may expand the number and size of local collapses and put the railroad at risk.  Reinforcing the railroad will lead to narrower beach below the southern bluffs. Removing the railroad and allowing bluff erosion will imperil other infrastructure along the bluff top and possibly some bluff top homes. The plan provides tools:

·       Replenish sand on the beaches below the bluffs.

·       Improve surface water drainage east and uphill of all bluffs.

·       Improve groundwater drainage along bluff edges and faces.

·       Reduce landscape irrigation east and uphill of all bluffs.

·       Relocate sewer lines and wires or fiberoptics away from the top of the bluff.

·       Add railroad crossings and pathways down the bluffs to reduce foot traffic.

·       Re-vegetate worn-down footpaths.

·       Relocate the railroad off the bluff.


For Powerhouse Park, the plan waivers and points out a trade-off: Armor the bluffs along the powerhouse and lose some adjacent beach; or let the bluffs erode and lose some grassy areas.  With enough sea level rise with erosion, Del Mar may one day face this choice. In the short run, Del Mar can continue to build sand berms each winter to protect the low bluffs, and start planning now to ensure replenished sand each year.


The San Dieguito wetlandswill experience “habitat creep” with new flooding due to sea level rise. The marshes will drown if they cannot migrate upstream or expand. The plan lists tools. Some may be feasible in Del Mar; some may not:

·       Place sediment to preserve wetland elevations relative to tide levels. 

·       Place wetland vegetation seeds at higher elevations as tide levels rise.

·       Create protected spaces for wetlands to transgress, upland and upstream. 

·       Create spaces for the wetlands to expand.

·       Create new wetlands through “restoration”.


Keeping sand on the beaches is the first protection for beach and bluff neighborhoods. That is why Del Mar’s Sea Level Rise Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) gave highest priority to sand management.  Sand retention tools to start thinking about include groins, breakwaters, artificial reefs, “living levees” and future technologies. STAC noted, Del Mar needs a Beach Retention Advisory Committee (BRAC?).


What’s next?  What started all this planning? California’s Senate Bill (SB) 379 requires every city to update its “safety element” to plan for new fire and flood vulnerabilities due to climate change. To satisfy SB379, Del Mar must add the Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan in some form to our “Complete Community Plan”, which currently includes the Community Plan itself, the Housing Element, the Recreation Element, and our certified Local Coastal Program (see  


It is time for Del Mar’s council and citizens to think hard about the following:  How to add the Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan to our “Complete Community Plan”?


Would it be sufficient to add it to Del Mar’s “Community Plan” document as one more Appendix?Seven appendices have already been added over the years, including an older “Oceanographic Problems, Shoreline Erosion, Geology, and Geologic Hazards Report”.  Could this Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan update or replace that older report?


Or, should the Adaptation Plan, which is policy not implementation, become an Appendix to either part of our certified LCP?  – i.e., Del Mar’s “Land Use Plan”  or “Implementing Ordinances” – or a third document?


Does Del Mar’s certified LCP lack anything that would allow the actions listed in the Adaptation Plan?  Or are all the actions Del Mar needs to take now or anticipates taking in the near future covered in our certified LCP?  Would any actions that are not currently covered require new CCC permits no matter what is in the LCP?

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