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A Guest Editorial
May 2008 | by Sam Borgese

 

I can't resist commenting about the many anxious voices responding to the assumed collapsing financial condition of Del Mar and the “call to arms” to save the village business area with new zoning, parking ordinance and the general rush to develop. So, I (and I suggest every resident do the same) read the recently published Revitalization Plan for the City of Del Mar by The Community Land Use and Economics Group.

The study is rich with fresh facts about who lives in and visits Del Mar, how the residents and visitors feel about Del Mar and what they would like to see or not see Del Mar present to them. The richness of the facts is compelling. Del Mar is truly the gem that we protect with a passion. This gem often generates boisterous and contentious argument over how it should be cared for and protected.

Yet as I read the CLUE report, I found the most compelling statements to be quotes lifted from already established City development guidance documents:

1976: Community Plan - “… Del Mar's business community should better serve local needs for goods and services and become a pedestrian-oriented compact center”; “…automobile traffic should not pose a hazard to life, should not intrude on the tranquility of the community life, nor should it interfere with walkers and bicycle riders”.

1982: Del Mar 2000 - “…The Del Mar 2000 program…represents a significant step forward into another area of environmental opportunity. This opportunity lies in the largely untapped potential of the Del Mar Commercial district and how it can be developed to create a functional and symbolic center for the entire community”; “ … to create an intimately scaled urban experience around an active, vital, and pedestrian oriented downtown”.

The CLUE report does have lots of “voids” and “sales leakage” data. It is also comforting to read that not much has changed over the 35 years since I became a resident. People still come to Del Mar to walk on the beach and dine in the village restaurants; village residents still want a pharmacy and a hardware store; and, only a handful of people own most of the commercial property.

The best sections of the Clue report are the recommended solutions for existing Del Mar businesses to think outside their own store-front box and the sections that list examples of unique businesses such as the custom musical-instrument shop, the quill pen shop that ships quills to the US Congress, the do-it-yourself dog wash or the restaurant that also houses a bookstore.

While we wring our hands over what to do next, I suggest we get busy doing what we know already needs to be done. Encourage residents and others to invest themselves and their resources to create the virtue of the village -- the honest expression of who we are as Del Mar residents and what we want people to experience when they visit. Done responsibly, the rest will follow suit. This virtue is in our village DNA, just read the Community Plan or Del Mar 2000.

 

   
 

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