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A Brief History of DMUSD Facilities and Why the Del Mar Heights Rebuild is Still a Big Deal

An online history document put together on a pro-Modernization website.


A Short History of the Lawsuit

Currently waiting on what is going to happen with the Appeal and also the Injunction.

The original lawsuit asserted that DMUSD’s Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) did not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In December 2020, Judge Joel Wohlfeil agreed that three areas required more study, vacated the MND and ruled the district needed to comply with CEQA. However, the judge does not have the authority to specify how DMUSD should comply.


DMUSD decided to do a Focused Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the remaining areas, and then resurrect the MND, rather than doing a Full EIR. Previous court precedent and the letter of the law dictated that they should have done a Full EIR. They admit during oral arguments that they should have done a Full EIR.

September 2022 Appeal oral arguments, 

The following quotes are taken directly from the September 13th oral arguments.


During oral arguments on September 13th, Save the Field described the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) as, “…the heart of CEQA”.

6:40 [StF] "...The California Supreme Court, in Communities for a Better Environment, stated if an MND is vacated, the remedy is a full EIR. That was reiterated by this court..."

9:30 [StF]...(the) Ocean Street (case) involved an EIR. In this case, the district has fought the EIR since the beginning of this project and did not prepare one.

11:21 [Justice Dato] ... so yes had this been done correctly they should have recognized that there were potentially significant environmental impacts and done an EIR ...

11:34 [StF] The issue here is ... there was a mistake made, it went by way of mitigated negative declaration. That was wrong, the court told them it was wrong...

9:26 [DMUSD] ...while you know hindsight would be 20/20, and maybe an EIR should have been done from the very beginning.

10:59 [StF]...the district is trying very hard to characterize the focused EIR as having done a full EIR, but that's not the reality, and it would really turn CEQA law on its head, because why would a developer ever do an EIR.

Injunction May 2022 The City of San Diego should not have issued permits without having CEQA settled. Judge Katherine Bacal agreed.

December 2020 The MND went before Judge Joel Wohlfeil, who agreed that three of thirteen counts required further study. The ruling vacated the MND, and stated that DMUSD needed to follow CEQA law, but the court is not allowed to define how to follow the law. DMUSD's response to this court loss was to do a Focused EIR tiering document for the three items, despite not having done an EIR, and to resurrect the MND as an appendix under the Focused EIR. Under CEQA law and previous court precedent, this is not compliant with the law.

June 2020 Save the Field exercised the only oversight citizens have under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and served DMUSD with a lawsuit to require an EIR to study all of the environmental impacts, including Traffic and Wildfire.

May 2020 DMUSD certified the MND.

February 2020 DMUSD released the Mitigated Negative Declaration document instead of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The MND did not consider wildfire or traffic to be an impact, despite the site being in a Very High Wildfire Fire Hazard Severity Zone and despite the high amount of traffic and impacts to first responders during the May 13, 2016 accident in the Del Mar Heights parking lot that required a severely injured student to be airlifted to the hospital.


January 2020 Save the Field finalized the paperwork to form a public benefit nonprofit, and the attorneys submitted a letter to DMUSD asking for information, which DMUSD represented to the public as the beginnings of a lawsuit.

December 2019 DMUSD rejected neighbors' two-story proposal they had drawn up by an architect.

October 2019 through June 2020 Play Outside Del Mar led months of protests.

October 2019 A petition started by a parent prompted John Gartman to create Play Outside Del Mar.

newspaper article thumb.jpg

Baseball Field Dedication article from 1970

An article from when the community-funded baseball field was originally dedicated.

Click the image to see the whole article.


Del Mar Looking Back

Excerpts of Del Mar Looking Back, a history of Del Mar and the surrounding region.
Used with permission.


Establishment of the San Dieguito School District in 1873

Establishment of Soledad School (later Del Mar School) with the founding of Del Mar in 1885

Building of the first phase of current Del Mar Shores in 1947

Establishment of the Del Mar Union School District in 1949

Passing of the first bond and purchase of the land for Del Mar Heights School in 1960

Opening of the first eight classrooms of Del Mar Heights Elementary School in September 1965

Passage of another school bond; addition of three kindergartens, four classrooms, and administrative units to Del Mar Heights Elementary School; and purchase of the land for Del Mar Hills School in 1967

Opening of the first nine classrooms, administrative facilities, and a learning center of Del Mar Hills School in September; and Del Mar Elementary renamed to Del Mar Shores in 1973

The book was completed in early 1986, copyright 1988.


Del Mar Picture Book

Excerpts of Del Mar Picture Book, a visual history of Del Mar.
Used with permission.


A photo of a school bus at The Winston School (formerly Del Mar Shores School)

Establishment of the San Dieguito School District in 1873

Opening of the Shores School in 1947

Establishment of the Del Mar Union School District in 1949

Opening of Del Mar Heights Elementary School in 1965

Opening of Del Mar Hills School in 1974

Copyright 2006.


Torrey Pines: Landscape and Legacy

Excerpt of Torrey Pines: Landscape and Legacy, a photo-rich book about the Torrey Pines Reserve and Extension.

Used with permission.


Establishment of the Torrey Pines State Reserve for the preservation of the Torrey pine in 1899.

Discussion of the role of fire in pine regeneration and population, and build up of dense undergrowth and organic litter as a result of being without occasional wildfires.

Copyright 1994.


July 2, 1999 Village Voice Article

Torrey Pines Community Planning Board discussion to reduce traffic near the Del Mar Heights School in 1999. 

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