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March 2009 home page

For Thinking and Acting Anew
March 2009 | Bettina Experton, Chair, Del Mar Finance Committee

Faced with a failing economy, obsolete financial policies and a crumbling infrastructure, the nation’s future rests on the vision and resolve of our elected new leader in Washington, DC.

In Del Mar, the resurrection of our Village -or not- demands nothing less than strong and visionary leadership. Beyond old politics, there is no time to waste and no need for further debate. It is time instead to rally a majority to the common goal of a revitalized downtown - at the right price and in the right time frame.
Based on nothing more than sound economic principles, and with the quality of life of our village at heart, the Del Mar Finance Committee proposes the following revitalization approach:

a.) Immediately engage, in a public review process, the development and finalization within six months of:

  1. A streetscape plan to be “shovel ready” before the end of the year. This will provide a concrete foundation for downtown revitalization and the pedestrian friendly environment residents and visitors alike badly need.
  2. A Request for Proposal to develop the City Hall site into a new mixed retail-residential anchor at the southern of town, with a large underground parking structure to provide for additional in lieu parking for the central commercial zone.

b.) Encourage willing downtown property owners to redevelop, by creating a new building envelope defined with simple zoning changes: existing set backs, a 3-story height limit, and parking requirement mitigation with financial contribution to the proposed City Hall site underground community parking.
Modeled on the cities of Carmel and Santa Barbara (neither use FBC), we advocate the use of design guidelines (defined by existing Del Mar style buildings: Stratford Square, the Plaza, Del Mar Library; and construction material quality criteria defined by the Plaza Specific Plan manual) and the use of our existing DRB review process.
This approach will achieve the following:

- Let property owners submit redevelopment plans when and if economically feasible for their individual parcels. The Form Based Code (FBC) approach may produce allowable building envelopes economically unfit for redevelopment. Many downtown parcels in need of redevelopment already have 100% lot coverage. A FBC approach may produce esthetically improved building envelopes, but if no significant additional square footage is achieved (to generate the minimum increased revenue required), the redevelopment of these parcels will not occur. The specific economic conditions of each single parcel (land cost, existing property revenues…) are the basis for redevelopment. Compliance with specified esthetic guidelines, an integral part of the public review process, should come next.

The parcel by parcel approach we advocate will also avoid the unnecessary costs and time lost in a master plan downtown approach with FBC (which might still evolve into a Specific Plan for the entire downtown).

More than ever the time is right to think and act anew, capitalizing in this dire period of our history to redevelop and rebuild at a lower cost, and move forward as a whole community with the value of time, money and ultimate results in mind.
(For more detail on the Finance Committee revitalization proposal visit the SandPiper website for their full report and presentation to the January 12, 2009 City Council meeting).


Click here for the full Finance Committee Revitalization Proposal, presented on January 12, 2009 to the City Council.

Historical Photos: Many of the historical pictures on these pages are included in a slim volume that can be bought online from the Del Mar Historical Society: "Discovering Del Mar's Past." Click here.


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