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City Opts for Virtual Revitalization
April 2008 | by Art Olson


In a surprise move at the April 1st City Council meeting, council members decided to opt for a revitalization plan suggested by a previously undisclosed “shadow” consultant. That consultant, Les S. Moore of Community Land Use by Les (CLU-LES) had been hired, during a closed session by the Council, to provide a reality check on the report proffered by Kennedy Smith of C.L.U.E. The Moore report acknowledges similar trends and problems facing Commercial Del Mar but proposes a totally different strategy to solve the Revitalization conundrum – “virtualization”.

The Council was swayed by a powerful demonstration of the technology given by Mr. Moore, who led them on a tour through a prototype of “Virtual Del Mar”. First he equipped each councilmember with a Wii computer game controller for navigation and had them each choose a virtual self, or “Avatar” to be their alter egos in the computer generated townscape projected in front of them. Apparently this was their first encounter with “Second Life”, the popular Internet-based virtual social environment.

After the 15-minute tour, the Council discussion was decidedly favorable toward the project. “It makes a lotta sense,” said Dave Druker “and it's a lot cheaper than any other alternative”. Druker was struck by the fact that parking would no longer be a problem. “People don't need cars to get around in Second Life – they moved from place to place like jumping from one web-site to another. Once in Virtual Del Mar, your avatar moves effortlessly around town. Incredible”

“Les Moore had me at ‘no view blockage',” remarked Crystal Crawford, who expressed amazement that a one-story house could have multilevel basements, all with ocean views. “I was taken with that cute craftsman cottage, that housed a 60-story office building. Floor Area Ratio has no meaning in Second Life,” she enthused.

“I couldn't believe it,” said Henry Abarbanel. “Gliding along Camino del Mar, from cheese shop to bakery to hardware store to drug store! Truly resident-serving businesses. We'll never have to leave Del Mar to get what we need – reducing our carbon footprint dramatically.”

“Yes, and visitors can get what they want, too” exclaimed Richard Earnest. “The idea of having parallel Camino del Mars, one for tourists and one for residents is brilliant. Tee Shirt Stands, Candle Shops, Ice Cream Parlors, Outlet Stores! I understand that even Day Spas are possible in Second Life. Of course, pushing the Del Mar Brand on the Internet will be critical to get revenue-generating visitors,” he opined.

“Best of all,” added Carl Hilliard, “once you're in Virtual Del Mar, there's free wi-fi – and the signal is great everywhere, without those ugly antennas!”

Questions were raised from the audience about the fate of real Del Mar. Les Moore did admit that once you turned off your computer, you would have to walk outside into the old un-revitalized Del Mar. That seemed to ease the minds of most of the citizens watching.

The Council approved the “Del Mar Virtual Revitalization Act” by unanimous vote, and budgeted $10,000 toward the goal of getting it up and running by next April 1st .



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