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Del Mar Celebrates Its 50th 
February 2009 | by Tony Corso, Stratford


This year Del Mar will celebrate its fiftieth year as an incorporated city. Gaining independence through incorporation was accomplished after months of deliberations and debates. The “battle” ended in July, 1959 when Del Mar’s residents, who voted to incorporate, saw their wishes granted by the County Board of Supervisors on July 7th and the State of California on July 15th. Both bodies officially declared Del Mar an “incorporated city.”

Incorporation was proceeded by years of conflict with the State over a proposed coastal highway through the middle of the City displacing considerable commercial development; a later route was suggested along 1.7 miles of Del Mar’s beach. The coastal routes were finally rejected; the current inland route, Freeway 5, was selected.
The smoke had hardly receded, when in 1957 the City of San Diego began to aggressively annex territory, including an area encircling Del Mar. The move generated fears that the City of San Diego might eventually seek to annex Del Mar, putting an end to any thoughts of independence and control over future development.

Concerned residents formed the Del Mar Committee for Self-Government and endorsed incorporation, proclaiming that if Del Mar were to retain its identity and manner of living it would have to disengage from the County, which was described as a “remote and alien planning body.”
Incorporation was championed as a means to retain the community’s present character through self-determination and self-government, resist pressures of growth and assure a governing body made up of local residents - those best qualified to identify and resolve problems.

While incorporation gained public support, the City of San Diego was not so easily persuaded. It felt, if necessary, it had the means to force annexation by limiting Del Mar’s water supply through its control of the Metropolitan Water District.
A local group, the Del Mar Property Owners Committee, urged residents to remain under county government, but their position garnered minimum enthusiasm and eventually twenty-five percent of property owners petitioned for a vote.
On the May 26th, 1959 ballot a record 75 percent of eligible voters cast ballots with 565 favoring incorporation and 475 opposing it. In 1962, Del Mar joined the Metropolitan Water District giving it rights to share in the District’s water, thus releasing it from the grip of San Diego.

Finally, the County and State of California certified the election. Del Mar become the 11th city in San Diego County, allowing its citizens to indulge the independent spirit and active citizen involvment that is its hallmark.



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