home page archives

November 2008 home page

The article below is more detailed than the article which appeared in the print edition.


November 2008 | By Dwight Worden


Proposed Garden Del Mar Project at the corner of 10th Street and Camino Del Mar.  Enlargement.

Del Mar voters will have the opportunity to vote “yes” or “no” on the Garden Del Mar project, a mixed use project comprised of office condominiums, a café and restaurant, some retail shops, three public plazas including a viewing deck, underground parking and other amenities proposed to be located at the old UltraMar gas station site at the southeast corner of 10th street and Camino Del Mar.  How did this development project come to be on the ballot?  What is it? Is it good for Del Mar?  This article will address these questions, leaving the ultimate judgment to the reader of how to vote.

            THE BALLOT   

            In the 1980's developers were proposing major redevelopment at what is now the Del Mar Plaza.   In response an initiative was passed (Measure B) that required all projects larger than a certain size to be “ratified” by public vote after receiving all city approvals.  The thinking was that decisions on these larger projects are so important that the voters, and not the City council, should have the final say, and that telling developers in advance that they would have to garner support from the voters would “motivate” them to design a better project from the get go.  Measure B became law, the Plaza project was approved by the voters on the first try, and the L’Auberge project was first defeated, then approved.  The Garden Del Mar project is now on the ballot as the first project since the L’Auberge project that is large enough to trigger Measure B’s vote requirement.

            THE PROJECT 

            The project proposes (5) 2 story buildings, with heights meeting zoning and aligned to maintain views from the neighborhood behind and to provide public ocean views for the project’s public viewing deck.  Just under 20,000 square of building space is proposed with a Floor Area Ratio of 77%, and more than 100 underground parking spaces, more than required by zoning.  The design elements are varied, with many “green” aspects.  Traffic, parking and circulation are managed to minimize impacts to the neighborhood.  A café is proposed as is a full service restaurant.  A public plaza serves as an entry, and there is a second plaza in the interior and a third on the second level (the view deck).  Street facing downstairs spaces will be reserved for retail uses, with the second row being “flex space”, meaning it can be either office or retail.  Allowed uses and issues such as lighting, noise, entertainment, trash handling, and other aspects are handled in detail in the Specific Plan.

            The project underwent 16 months of review and more than 60 hearings before the City Council appointed Gas Station Site Steering Committee in developing the Specific Plan for the project.  This Specific Plan, along with an EIR, were then approved by the DRB, The Planning Commission and City Council.   The project includes more than $750,000 in off-site public benefits negotiated by the City and included in the project.

            IS IT GOOD FOR DEL MAR?

            That is for you the voter to decide.  The City’s Planning Commission, DRB and City Council think so as they all unanimously approved the project, as do a collection of community leaders who have endorsed the project.  And, while there is a ballot argument in favor of the project, no opposition argument was submitted.  Here are some of the key issues:

*          The project will help revitalize this section of our downtown commercial area
*          The project is well designed, proposes high quality construction, and substantial public areas and open space.
*          The project will provide an opportunity for locals to have a small office in the project, for locals to visit the café or restaurant, to enjoy the public plazas, and to shop in the retail shops.
*          The project is large in terms of FAR–77% versus the commercial zone standard of 45%, and will have a “presence” along Camino Del Mar comparable to the Plaza’s feel along CDM.  (See the above rendering)

            To help you decide how to vote, the Sandpiper recommends you review the project plans which are in your voter pamphlet as Exhibit A to Measure G.  Or, even better, check them out on the city web site at www.delmar.ca.us.  And if you want more details, the Specific Plan and the project EIR are available at City Hall for review.



© 2007-2015 Del Mar Community Alliance, Inc.  All rights reserved.