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Out of the Garden, Into the Heat
August 2008 | by Art Olson


A hastily assembled special meeting of the Gas Station Site Steering Committee on July 24, following City Council's deliberations on the Garden Del Mar Project's Specific Plan, though heated at times, has hopefully brought a more reasoned perspective to the efforts to move the Plan to a November vote. The meeting was precipitated by the e-mail withdrawal of the project by Bryn Stroyke, the developer, who cast blame on remarks regarding the Exceptional Public Benefits (EPBs) made by individual members of the Steering Committee at the Council Meeting on 21 July.

The purpose of the special meeting, according to Council sub-committee, Dave Druker and Richard Ernest, was to explain the differences between the EPBs they brought before the Council, and those recommended by the Steering Committee. It was those differences that prompted Deborah Groban, Brooke Eisenberg-Pike, and me to make our remarks at the council meeting.

Discussion between the Council members and the Committee at the special meeting centered on the EPBs and ideas that could bring the Committee and Council closer to agreement on what might be appropriately proposed to the developers.

With over 30 members of the community present there was no absence of public input, and, in my view, several misconceptions propagated through the discussion. All of the public comments at the meeting expressed strong support for the project, but most argued for formal endorsement from the Committee. Several implied that our comments at Monday's Council meeting were intended to derail the project and that we would be to blame if the project does not go forward.

In fact, the Steering Committee was tasked to facilitate community input to the Specific Plan process as dictated by Measure B. We were not formed as a deliberative body, and were assured that indeed it was not our role as a Committee to endorse the final plan. In the 60 or so meetings that we conducted, it is on record that all of our discussions leading to our recommendations were motivated to create a Specific Plan that appeals to the largest cross-section of Del Mar voters. We operated knowing that it is the City Council's role to negotiate and decide the final form of the Specific Plan, including the EPBs. Also on record is the Committee's statement of our rights to express or withhold our individual opinions.

By meeting's end, the Committee and Council liaisons agreed on revised EPBs that they felt would help put the Garden back on the path to a November vote:

1) The same $25/month condo fee designated for affordable housing program ­ but instead of fee's in perpetuity, fees for 30 years. Designated use of fees reviewed at year 20.

2) A percentage of total revenue generated from the sales and other income from the property to the developers with both the percentage and a floor and ceiling amount negotiated between the City Council Subcommittee and the developers. The funds from this EPB would be designated for park improvements.


back to the lead article: New Curves in the Garden Path

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



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