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The 2.5 Million Dollar Myth
March 2009 | Dave Druker, 10th Street

The figure of $2.5 million has been bandied about as the cost of the Garden Del Mar project to go through Del Mar’s Prop B process. While it did cost the owners of this project $2.5 million, most of the costs were not due to Prop B but due to the size, scope of the project and the need for a redesign.

If there was no Prop B. how would the Garden Del Mar project have been approved? Because the project was larger than the allowed FAR, the owners would have had to create a specific plan. This specific plan would have required an environment impact report and a development agreement. The specific plan would have required Planning Commission, Design Review Board and City Council review. There would probably have been many more meetings than the two Planning Commission, two DRB and three City Council meetings that occurred in the most recent approval cycle.

But there was a Prop B and there were added costs for this process. Were these costs because of the process or the way the council and the developer decided to go through the process? For example, part of the cost was the redesign of the project. If the developers had not redesigned the project, would it have received an 85% approval at the ballot? Also by not initially listening to the feedback from the community about the design, the developers prolonged the process of approval.

If the council had not set up a citizen advisory board to address the numerous project issues, the developers would have had to meet with the neighbors and create appropriate mitigation for the project. Instead of paying for attendance at the meetings, the developers would probably have had to spend money on a campaign to assuage the voters that the Garden Del Mar project was correct for the neighborhood. Who knows what the cost of the campaign would have been if there was an organized opposition to the project.

If there was no Prop B, then the developers would not have had to spend money on exceptional benefit. In the grand scheme of things, the direct contribution to the community for exceptional benefit is a small portion of the project. Ultimately, the developers and the Prop B process gave us a project that a vast majority of Del Mar is happy about and that is priceless.


renderings for the project in pdf form.  Click here


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