Ad-Hoc Development Review Process Citizen’s Advisory Committee
The Design Review Ordinance (“DRO”) and design review process is a key ordinance in Del Mar – it effectively shapes the future of Del Mar. Changes to the DRO and design review process will have lasting implications and must be considered in an objective, factually supported manner that is in the best interests of the community as a whole.
The Ad-Hoc Development Review Process Citizen’s Advisory Committee (the “Ad Hoc Committee”) was formed by the City Council in May 2015. The Ad Hoc Committee was formed at the urging of a small group of residents who openly have state the current design review process and DRO needs to be more restrictive. The Ad Hoc Committee was appointed on a fast track basis and in a biased manner – out of a pool of 28 candidates, 3 members of the City Council voted exactly the same way for 8 of the 9 members. The result is that a majority of the committee are part of a group who wants to add more restrictions and requirements in our Zoning Code and DRO. MDF’s position on this matter:
- The Ad Hoc Committee must honor the viewpoints that fairly represents the entire community – not the small vocal minority that pressured the City Council to establish the Ad Hoc Committee to enact more restrictions;
- The DRO and design review process must:
- Allow residents the right to improve their property in a respectful manner within the DRO standards.
- Protect property rights and property values by continuing to allow basement and reasonable outdoor room configurations sought after by today’s homeowners.
- Foster Del Mar to become a more family-oriented community by encouraging families to make Del Mar their home.
- The DRO and DRB members should be consistent, objective, fair and balanced to create a process that produces more predictable results and minimizes animosity between neighbors. A friendlier neighborhood environment should be a goal.
MDF has attended 23+ meetings of the Ad Hoc over the past 2 years to monitor the Ad Hoc activities. Despite no resident support for including basements and outdoor living areas in the Floor Area Ratio calculation, members of the Ad Hoc continue to pursue these changes. If basements and outdoor living areas are included in the Floor Area Ratio calculation, the net effect will be that folks will not build these elements as they are more costly (in the case of basements) or cannot be used as much (in the case of outdoor living areas). Residents are against these additional restrictions and MDF will continue to be the voice of residents in opposing these restrictions.
Downtown Del Mar
The City Council has for years heard the frustration of residents regarding the need to create a vibrant downtown. The Community Plan was developed in 1976 - 40 years ago! Decades of studies, reviews and analysis by various City Councils at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars have resulted in virtually no progress regarding improving the Downtown. Over the past 40 years, the City Council has not only failed to implement the Community Plan, but importantly has resisted attempts to create a vibrant Downtown. The result is that not one new project has been built in our Downtown for 28 years!
In 2014, residents were asked “What can City government change to make Del Mar a better place to live now and in the future?” The #1 response – more beautification/revitalize/redesign the City. The #2 response – attract more businesses (i.e. retail, restaurants etc.). In March 2017, MDF issued a survey to 1200+ residents throughout Del Mar. The results of that survey:
- Residents rated creating a vibrant downtown as the #1 ranking among all City services.
- Residents feel the City needs to spend more money in creating a vibrant Downtown.
- The Del Mar Community Plan states:
“One goal is to focus major retail and office activity into an economically viable, pedestrian oriented and attractive area that serves the needs of both residents and visitors and is well integrated into the residential area that includes Camino Del Mar circulation, parking, architectural design and walkways”.
Only 15% think we have met this goal. Conversely, 67% Strongly Disagree or Somewhat Disagree that we have met this goal.
MDF believes the City Council should honor what residents want and take action now to begin to achieve the goal of a vibrant Downtown. This can begin with actually starting construction on the previously designed streetscape plan, However, in addition, we need to promote common sense changes to our Municipal Code that make it realistically possible for business to improve their facilities and develop a culture that attracts new and supports existing businesses that complement our village character and serve our resident’s needs.