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New Curves in the Garden Path
August 2008 | by Carol Kerridge and Shirley King


The Garden Del Mar Project took an unexpected turn after the July 21 City Council discussion considering approval of the project's Specific Plan. In a widely distributed e-mail sent early the next morning, developer Bryn Stroyke announced that he had decided not to move forward with the application, stating that, “the project can no longer proceed as envisioned and that the incredibly tight schedule has been dealt a fatal blow”, attributing this decision to comments made by Site Steering Committee members at the meeting.

During the meeting several members of the public expressed their concerns about the Exceptional Public Benefits (EPBs) under discussion. Committee members, Deborah Groban (via e-mail), Art Olson, and Brooke Eisenberg-Pike each voiced frustration that the Council had substantially ignored their committee's recommendations on EPBs.

The Garden Project, which comprises 39 office condos, retail and restaurant space, has a floor area ratio of 77%, which exceeds the underlying 45% FAR. The Council considered the restaurant and café as compensating EPBs, as well as a levy for the city's affordable housing fund of $25 per month from each condo owner. They also included a share of a paid-parking program, if implemented within 5 years. If not, a $25,000 in lieu contribution would be required from the owners for five subsequent years.

Public comments noted that the scale of these monetary EPBs was significantly less than the $250,000 recommended by the Steering Committee, and that they would burden the subsequent owners and users of the property rather than the developers. Other departures from the Committee's recommendation included counting the restaurant and cafe as EPBs, and the lack of specified projects to benefit from the paid parking or in lieu funds.

The Council decided to give the EPBs more consideration before a vote on the Specific Plan, moving to adjourn the vote until the following Monday. Subsequently in response to the Stroyke e-mail Dave Druker and Richard Earnest, the Steering Committee's Council liaisons called a meeting of the Steering Committee for Thursday, July 24 to discuss the proposed EPBs prior to the scheduled City Council discussion.


web exclusive update:
City Council Takes Key Action to Approve Garden Del Mar Project for the Ballot

(Click here for an opinion by Art Olson.)



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