Torrey Pines more like Crestline?

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When people ask me about my vision for Torrey Pines, I often reply that I'd like Torrey to be more like Crestline.

Our club (Torrey Hawks) has requested a meeting with San Diego Mayor Faulconer to discuss this possibility, and we will be meeting with the Mayor on June 17th, 2014. In anticipation of that meeting, we've requested a letter from USHPA - written to Mayor Faulconer - which describes USHPA's site insurance program.

Unfortunately, USHPA doesn't want Torrey Pines to be more like Crestline. USHPA wants Torrey Pines to be run by a concessionaire (follow the money). So rather than being cooperative about presenting USHPA's site insurance program in a positive light, USHPA President Rich Hass has drafted a letter that does just the opposite. To make matters worse, he's told us that he doesn't want anyone to see any of his drafts until he's already sent the final version. That makes it kind of difficult to get input from our members doesn't it?

I have copied all 3 of our USHPA Directors (Dan DeWeese, Alan Crouse, and Corey Caffrey) on my entire email exchange with Rich Hass. I am officially asking for their public support of a letter that portrays the USHPA site insurance option at Torrey Pines as a positive option to the City of San Diego.

For the record, here are the two letters that I have requested of Rich Hass so far. At this point in time, Rich has rejected both of them.

This first draft was sent to Rich Hass (and all 3 of our Directors) on May 15th, 2014:

====================== Begin Draft ======================

Mayor Faulconer and City of San Diego,

The United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (USHPA) is a national organization supporting the sports of hang gliding and paragliding throughout the United States. Our organization provides site insurance for xxx sites in xx states insured by xxx Chapters. We insure sites owned by federal, state, county, and city governments as well as sites owned by individuals and other non-government entities. We provide a standard site insurance policy of $1,000,000 protecting such land owners from claims arising from hang gliding and paragliding activities on their land (with higher levels of coverage available in specific situations).

The USHPA site insurance program is available to all of our Chapters. In most cases, there is a single Chapter insuring each site, but we do have cases where multiple Chapters provide site insurance for the same site. USHPA site insurance covers USHPA pilots flying at such insured sites, but it does not prohibit a land owner from using their land for any other purposes (including commercial hang gliding and paragliding operations which are covered by other insurance).

In the San Diego area, there are two USHPA Chapters which qualify to purchase USHPA site insurance: SDHGPA and Torrey Hawks. This letter is intended to advise the City that USHPA would be willing to provide site insurance to either or both Chapters (paid for by the Chapters) if the City of San Diego were to require it as a condition of continued hang gliding or paragliding operations at Torrey Pines.

Site insurance requires each Chapter to play an active role in the safety and oversight of their insured site (within any constraints provided by the land owner). At the current time, the Torrey Hawks have been filing the annual site Risk Assessment Plan required under the USHPA site insurance program for Torrey Pines even though USHPA does not currently provide Chapter site insurance at that site. The Torrey Hawks have also expressed an ongoing interest in providing USHPA site insurance at Torrey Pines, and USHPA would be willing to provide such insurance through the Torrey Hawks assuming that all of the standard conditions of such insurance (outlined in USHPA SOP 06) are met.

For many decades, the USHPA site insurance program has been highly successful at protecting land owners from claims and thus providing affordable access to hang gliding and paragliding for all of our members. We welcome the opportunity to do so at Torrey Pines, and we look forward to working with the City of San Diego to support the world-famous flying available at that site.

Thank You,
__Rich_Hass,__President,_USHPA__
cc: Torrey Hawks and SDHGPA
====================== End Draft ======================

As mentioned above, Rich Hass replied (on May 21st) with a letter that was very negative regarding the possibility of insuring Torrey Pines through a USHPA Chapter. Rich has asked me not to distribute his letter, and I have not. I countered his negative letter with a second draft where I tried to incorporate some of his wording in a more positive way. Here's the version that I sent to Rich (and our 3 Directors) on May 25th:

====================== Begin Draft ======================

Mayor Faulconer,

This letter is in response to a request from the Torrey Hawks Hang Gliding Club for USHPA's support in describing our insurance program prior to your upcoming meeting with Torrey Hawks members and officers scheduled for June 17th, 2014 (see Bob Kuczewski’s email dated April 27th, 2014). This letter is intended to outline some of the possibilities and limitations of the USHPA site insurance program to help the City of San Diego make an informed decision.

By way of introduction, the United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association (“USHPA”) represents over 9,500 hang glider and paraglider pilots in the United States. As a benefit to members and affiliated Chapters, USHPA offers a site insurance program allowing Chapters to open new flying sites and preserve existing sites where our members have permission to fly. The USHPA site insurance program names participating landowners as additional insured on USHPA’s $1 million third-party liability policy with higher levels of coverage available in specific situations. This policy provides members with coverage for third-party claims resulting from their participation in these sports. The site insurance program presently covers landowners at over 200 flying sites throughout the United States.

The USHPA site insurance program is available to all USHPA Chapters. In most cases, there is a single Chapter insuring each site, but there are cases where multiple Chapters provide site insurance for the same site. In the San Diego area, there are two USHPA Chapters which qualify to purchase USHPA site insurance: the SDHGPA and the Torrey Hawks. This letter is intended to advise the City that USHPA would be willing to provide site insurance to either or both Chapters (paid for by the Chapters) provided that the conditions of the policy are met. Among those conditions is the requirement for Chapters to have an operating agreement with landowners where the sponsoring Chapter has been delegated the authority to manage all or a portion of the recreational flying at a site. These agreements range from handshakes to formal leases but the critical element is an agreement allowing Chapters to manage recreational flying subject to site insurance requirements established by USHPA and its insurance underwriter. At the current time, the Torrey Hawks Chapter has been filing the annual risk assessment in compliance with USHPA's site insurance program even though Torrey Pines is not currently insured through that particular policy.

Additionally, on March 31st, 2009, the Torrey Hawks Chapter filed an application with USHPA for site insurance at Torrey Pines (including payment in full). However, USHPA’s insurance broker has been unable to insure flight parks where management of recreational flying activities is controlled by a commercial concession, and as a result USHPA has denied processing that request for coverage. This decision could be amended if the City of San Diego were to delegate some responsibility for management and oversight of recreational (non-commercial) hang gliding and/or paragliding to either or both USHPA-affiliated Chapters in San Diego. If there is a continued concession operation, then all parties (Chapters, City, and Concessionaire) would need to have a mutual agreement clearly defining the roles of each party in managing the site. Ultimately, the underwriting decision is made by the insurer.

USHPA very much appreciates the role the City of San Diego has played in allowing Torrey Pines to develop into one of the most recognized flying sites in the world. Our association will cooperate and support the City’s efforts to keep hang gliding and paragliding at Torrey Pines viable for generations to come. Should the City decide to delegate responsibility for managing recreational flying to a Chapter or Chapters under mutually agreeable terms which include a requirement for USHPA site insurance, USHPA will cooperate and consider any Chapter’s application for site insurance consistent with standard operating policies as it does for other sites throughout the United States.

Best regards,
Rich Hass President, US Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association
====================== End Draft ======================

Rich has not only refused to endorse either of these letters, but he has broken off any further discussions of the letter with our club. Instead, he now says "You will receive a courtesy copy of the final letter when it is delivered."

Dan, Alan, and Corey, I am officially asking for your support to have Rich Hass either send the second letter (directly above) or continue to work with our club to get a letter that's agreeable to everyone.

Why is this important?

If we can get USHPA site insurance at Torrey Pines with permission from the City to fly there as a club, we will be able to provide Torrey Hawks members with an annual fee more like $15 rather than $150. We will also be able to provide some of our own club oversight of our flying activities in a manner very similar to what you have at Crestline. Dan, Alan, and Corey, I am asking for your public support in this effort.

Thanks,
Bob Kuczewski