Rancho Bernardo’s Dave Kreitzer receives ‘Lifetime’ award
By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Dave Kreitzer, one of Rancho Bernardo’s earliest residents, has been honored for his three decades of volunteer work dedicated to preserving the region’s open spaces.
San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy presented Kreitzer with its Lifetime Appreciation Award during its third annual River Valley Fest on Sunday at the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead.
Kreitzer said his volunteer work began within a few years of him and his family moving to Rancho Bernardo in 1965. By the mid-1970s, land use and conservation was being discussed and he got involved with his homeowners association, joined the RB Community Council and Planning Board. In 1984, he served a yearlong term as chairman of San Diegans for Managed Growth. The group got voters to overturn a City Council-approved plan to develop 5,400 acres in what is now the 4S Ranch/Black Mountain Ranch area.
“The project had industry, businesses, a college and housing,” he said. “It was not well thought out. Residents here said it was an outrage.”
Soon after, Kreitzer joined the newly formed San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy. The group, a nonprofit foundation for the river valley, helps preserve the 55-mile long open space area from Del Mar to Julian established in 1986. Kreitzer was among those who led the effort approved by the San Diego City Council and San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
Among his other efforts was chairing a committee that helped draft the Resource Protection Ordinance, a strong land-use protection measure for the county and helped the City Council adopt a similar ordinance. He also was instrumental in drafting the Black Mountain Ranch master plan that included preserving “significant open spaces” that are now part of the river park. For 20 years, he served on and at times led the county’s planning commission where Kreitzer focused on reducing urban sprawl and minimizing negative impacts on the river valley. In 2005, he returned for a six-year stint on the conservancy’s board.
In addition to this award, Kreitzer was named the river park’s 2005 Volunteer of the Year, the bicycle/pedestrian bridge spanning Lake Hodges was named after him when it opened in 2009, and he was a 1979 inductee into the Rancho Bernardo Hall of Fame.
The conservancy’s Lifetime Appreciation Award has only been presented four other times since instituted in 2003.
“Dave has been a real star in terms of the river valley and conservancy,” said Rand Newman, conservancy president.
Newman said now it is much easier than it was in the mid-70s to say one was pro-environment and he called Kreitzer and those he worked with at the time “visionaries” because “they could see ahead of time that we needed the open space preserved.”
While much of Kreitzer’s volunteerism has been via public leadership, Newman said Kreitzer often did small, behind-the-scenes tasks too. He recently whitewashed the Sikes Adobe when he learned it needed to be done and even helped set up the event at which he would be honored.
“He is a very humble, genuine man who is very deserving of the award,” Newman said.
“(Dave) does a lot of work, hard work, and stands up for what’s right,” said Lynne Anne Baker, the conservancy’s executive director. She called him an “unsung hero who is modest and unassuming.”
Kreitzer, whose career was in the textbook industry, said he focused on open space preservation for his volunteerism because it is a “quality of life” issue. His conservation interest began while in high school and for a while his college studies focused on forestry.
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