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Conflict Sprouts in the Garden
July 2008 | by Sam Borgese


From the tone of the recent Planning Commission meeting, it sounds as though, despite 40 to 70 (depending on how one counts) community hearings on the project, there are issues remaining around the project's traffic impact on its adjacent residential neighborhoods.

Statements from residents of those neighborhoods showed general support for the project moving forward; however, there were strong concerns about the traffic issues from the residents who are part of the Tenth Street Neighborhood Association (TENA). The TENA speakers challenged the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) sections on traffic mitigation as inadequate. Specifically, the TENA speakers believe that despite the many community meetings on the project, the project developers did not clearly hear the issue of excessive traffic on 10th Street potentially generated by the project.

The TENA solution is a full or partial closing of 10th Street . Certainly there is precedent for this solution in the closure of 13th Street east of Maiden Lane . Although the street closure is a handy solution, other adjoining resident speakers at the Commission meeting opposed the closure of 10th Street . This conflict placed the developers in the difficult position of choosing which neighborhood voice to appease. Facing the political reality of a community vote on the project, the developers appeared to be open to any solution that moved the project along to meet a November ballot deadline.

However, is appeasement the right solution?

The Specific Plan process and Measure B were meant to ensure that larger commercial projects were developed in accordance with the words and spirit of the Community Plan; to ensure as little negative impact as possible on the immediately adjacent residential neighborhoods; and to complement a village ambiance. The developers of previous Measure B projects (Del Mar Plaza and L'Auberge Hotel) were required to address these impacts with Specific Plan approval contingencies and within a project Development Agreement including the traffic impact on adjacent commercial and residential streets.

Next Step for the Garden DM Project: Design Review Board Special Meeting  
July 9, 6pm at the Del Mar TV Studio

In the Garden Del Mar Project the impact of traffic on the immediately adjacent streets and specifically to a predominantly residential and highly pedestrian street such as 10th Street , appears to be inadequately addressed, even though we have existing examples in the Plaza and L'Auberge projects of how to successfully address such issues.

The community has the time, the examples and project developers who are eager to reach a solution that moves the project forward to a November vote and rewards Del Mar with an important anchor to its southern commercial area. The solution to a successful project will be to follow previous Measure B projects. With assurances to address traffic issues contingent upon Specific Plan approval and contained within a Development Agreement, the developer can move forward while the community and residents adjacent to the project agree to what works best to mitigate traffic on residential neighborhoods - now and in the future.



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