Affordable Housing in Del Mar

Del Mar Community Plan Housing Element Goals

Since 1969, California has required that all cities and counties adequately plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in the community. California’s local governments meet this requirement by adopting a state approved housing plan as part of their “General Plan” or in the case of Del Mar, the “Community Plan.” Del Mar’s Community Plan includes a “housing element.” Del Mar’s Housing Element was approved by the state on June 6, 2013. (Source: May 21, 2018 City Staff Report)

Del Mar’s Community Plan Housing Element sets out five major goals regarding housing.

Del Mar Community Plan Housing Goals

  1. Conserve and Improve the City’s Existing Housing Stock
    Given the high cost of land in Del Mar and the age of existing residential units, a set of comprehensive programs is critical to preserve and improve existing residential units, particularly affordable units that provide safe and affordable housing opportunities for all segments of the community.
  2. Provide Adequate Sites to Achieve a Variety of Housing Types
    A key element in satisfying the affordable housing needs of a particular city, and the larger region, is ensuring that the community’s land use designations accommodate the construction of a variety of housing types that serve the needs and financial capabilities of all individuals and families in the community.
  3. Accommodate the Development of New Affordable Housing Opportunities
    New construction is a major source of housing for prospective homeowners and renters. However, with the limited amount of undeveloped land available in Del Mar, and with the high cost of the land that is available, other programs are also necessary to provide opportunities for affordable housing.
  4. Preserve and Expand Opportunities for use of Existing Affordable Housing
    In order to provide a wide range of housing options, the City relies on a number of programs intended to increase access to affordable housing by lower income households.
  5. Remove Governmental Constraints
    Under State law, Del Mar’s land use regulations and a Housing Program in the Housing Element must address and, where appropriate and legally possible, remove governmental constraints to the maintenance, improvement, and development of affordable housing.

Del Mar’s Progress on Affordable Housing – a Timeline

Del Mar has been faced with the affordable housing challenge for years. The following is a timeline of the city’s progress on addressing this challenge.


Del Mar’s Affordable Housing Needs Assessment (2013-2021)
Income Category Number of Required Units
Extremely Low 4
Very Low3
Above Moderate34
Additional Penalty Units15
(10 Low + 5 Moderate)

May 20, 2013: After approximately 18 months of review and analysis, the city council adopts the 2013-2021 Cycle Housing Element as part of Del Mar’s Community Plan.

June 6, 2013: Del Mar’s Housing Element is certified by the state. The original allocation should have been 61 units, but Del Mar was assessed an additional 15 penalty units (10 low and 5 moderate) because the City failed to achieve its 2005-2010 housing cycle goals and failed to demonstrate any feasible options for affordable housing (see adjacent table).


October 3, 2016: A presentation is made by the Del Mar Housing Corporation (DMHC) to the city council. DMHC is a separate corporation funded by city fees which have been used to subsidize rents for qualifying families in Del Mar. The DMHC requests the City establish a capital fund with a target balance of $2.0 million within five (5) years. The fund would be used to acquire/rehab and/or develop affordable housing units. DMHC representatives note the failure of the city to make any progress. City staff notes the failure to make any progress. The city council supports the request and Council Member Al Corti proposes the city pursue the development of a plan to construct 22 units in 5 years (2022). The 22 units represent Extremely Low (4), Very Low (3), Low (5) and penalty units for Low (10) and hence the “22 in 5” affordable housing program is born. The 22 in 5 plan focus is to provide 22 affordable housing units by 2022 and to partially achieve the City’s share of the regional housing needs. The moderate-income and above-moderate income housing are thought to be “built naturally” and therefore not the focus of the program.

November 21, 2016: City council directs staff to move forward with a work program for the 22 in 5 plan with the bulk of the work to be prepared by a consultant who specializes in affordable housing implementation.


May 1, 2017: The City hires a consultant at a cost not to exceed $98,250 to prepare a “22 in 5” report that looks at various solutions to create 22 affordable housing units by 2022.


May 21, 2018: City staff provides a progress report showing zero affordable units being built through 2017 in Extremely Low, Very Low, Low and Moderate income categories. City staff outlines 60 objectives related to the housing element. The objectives not yet implemented include rezoning of certain areas and new land use designation for the Fairgrounds.

June 4, 2018: Affordable housing consultant presents its report which outlined 4 key strategies and 26 different options to attain 22 affordable housing units by 2022. The following table represents these strategies:

Affordable Housing Strategies
Strategy #1 Explore Potential for City to Acquire, Rehab and Convert existing residential housing (purchase multi-family complex, single family homes, condominium conversions)
Strategy #2Unlock City owned land for Development (Shores Park, Civic Center, Tennis Courts, North Commercial and Professional Commercial Zones)
Strategy #3Obtain Covenants on Projects Being Developed (Watermark, 941 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar Resort)
Strategy #4Pursue partnership opportunities with Del Mar Fairgrounds (construct affordable housing in backstretch parking lot, annex Surf and Turf R.V. Park)

City council directs staff to move forward with following strategies: 1) Encourage condominium conversion; 2) Proceed with process to raise certain mitigation fees to increase revenues for affordable housing programs; 3) Proceed with process to rezone North Commercial and Professional Commercial Zone; 4) Obtain agreements for affordable housing on projects being developed (941 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar Resort, Watermark) and 5) Pursue partnering with the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

December 17, 2018: City staff presents request to proceed with an Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”). An EIR is a necessary step in rezoning the North Commercial and Professional Commercial Zones (Strategy #3). City staff requests the city council approve moving forward with an EIR and suggested that ALL Public Facilities Zones be included in the EIR study – namely the: 1) Library; 2) Post Office; 3) Civic Center; and 4) Shores property including the Winston School. Residents strongly oppose including the Shores property in the EIR. Their opposition was based on circumstances surrounding the 2007 Del Mar Shores campaign to purchase the Shores property from the Del Mar Union School District. That campaign was a joint effort of Del Mar residents, Winston School and the City of Del Mar to purchase the 5.3 acre Shores property which contains Winston School, playing fields and open space. The fundraising was successful with over 400 donors personally contributing $5,400,000 including Winston School’s $3,000,000 contribution in the form of pre-paid rent. In connection with this fundraising campaign, the city gave an important assurance to donors that the city was committed to preserving the property for its then current uses – Winston School, playing fields and open space. To show its commitment, the city unanimously adopted Resolution 2007-35 on August 6, 2007. Relevant parts of Resolution 2007-35:

  • …the City is unable to finance the acquisition (of the Shores property) and the City desires to support and encourage fundraising efforts through the commitment to preserve the present uses (emphasis added) of the property.
  • The purpose of the acquisition is to preserve the current open space and recreational uses of the property, including the ball field, and to permit the continued operation of the private Winston School, in keeping with the original dedicated intention (for school purposes only).
  • The City’s long term goal is to maximize the open space and recreational uses on the property. Although other public facilities are permitted under current zoning, the City Council has no intention of pursuing other uses not consistent with the purpose of the acquisition such as a new fire station or city hall.

At the December 17th city council meeting, in response to a question of whether Winston School had ever considered affordable housing for its employees, Dena Harris head of Winston School firmly stated “no.” (Time stamp 2:17:03)

City council votes to exclude the Shores Property from the EIR.

December 20, 2018: City issues letter signed by Deputy Mayor Ellie Haviland in response to Winston’s proposal asking for changes to its lease. The city offered various options including a rent reduction if Winston built affordable housing. Actual excerpt from December 20, 2018 letter:

Build and manage affordable housing units. Units need to be affordable for the duration of the lease term. Incorporating housing units helps the City toward its affordable housing requirements. Hypothetical at 3 units would be equal to -$35,000 per year.

Value of one affordable housing unit = $11,000 -$12,000 lease reduction per year (based on extrapolation from “22 in 5” study).

The city includes a hypothetical number of units as an example – not a set limit.


March 18, 2019: City staff informs city council that 1 accessory dwelling unit was approved for affordable housing.

June 3, 2019: City Council Members Druker and Worden report they are in discussions with State Representative Toni Atkins regarding the need for Del Mar, Solana Beach and the Fairgrounds to talk about options. (City Council Meeting June 3, 2019 Time 5:46:00)

June 17, 2019: City staff presents a sobering analysis of estimated affordable housing units that may be imposed on Del Mar in the next housing cycle starting in 2021 (see table below). City Council Member Gaasterland questions whether the assumptions and methodology for the allocation may be inaccurate.

DRAFT Affordable Housing Requirement for Del Mar
(Comparison of Current Housing Cycle vs. New Housing Cycle)
Income Category Required Units Current Housing Cycle (2013-2021) Units Entitled/Built Current Housing Cycle* ESTIMATED Required Units New Housing Cycle (2021-2029)
Extremely Low/Very Low 7038
Above Moderate3428
(Built between 2013-2017)
Penalty Units15
(Low 10 + Moderate 5)

*Units Built/Entitled from 2013 to 2019. Not part of written City Staff presentation. Woodpecker inserted based on City Staff Report dated May 18, 2019 and June 17, 2019 City Staff presentation.

Faced with the fact the city has made virtually no progress for years in affordable housing, a looming deadline of 14 months (Source: City Planning Director, City Council Meeting June 17, 2019 Time: 3:50:11) to submit a new Housing Element to the state that demonstrates progress or likely face additional penalties, and an anticipated requirement of even more housing units in 2021-2029, (Source: City Planning Director, City Council Meeting June 17, 2019 Time: 3:50:11), the City Council has a candid discussion regarding the need to take definitive action:

City Manager Scott Huth: You have the power to make this work. You don’t want to do this. You can change the zoning. You can incentivize developers to do it. You can make the decision to make the economics make it work. You are going to have to look at this in the next cycle to make this work. The state will not accept a plan that is just puff. It has to be real. Del Mar is going to have to find a trade-off to get the amount of housing. (City Council Meeting June 17, 2019 Time 4:32:37) The partnership idea is a good idea and the state is in a crisis so to go beyond your jurisdictional boundary is a good idea. (City Council Meeting June 17, 2019 Time 4:38:00)

Council Member Druker: Our best opportunity is to work with the fairgrounds so we need to work with the state to open that up. (City Council Meeting June 17, 2019 Time 4:38:41)

Council Member Worden: …we will be meeting with Fairgrounds and Solana Beach officials to start a discussion about various options available at the Fairgrounds. (City Council Meeting June 17, 2019 Time 4:39:39)

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