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Farm-Based Code Plows Ahead
A New Vision for Del Mar
April 2009 | Art Olson, Primavera

In the wake of the current world financial crisis, the Del Mar City Council has reconsidered its approach to Downtown revitalization. Opting for a radical reinvention of the downtown business district, they are now proposing to zone the properties along Camino Del Mar for agricultural use. Given the hard times ahead, the Council has decided that if Del Mar is to be sustainable, it should become more farm-friendly and learn to live off the land.

Once the Council realized that the only successful business in town has been the Saturday Farmer’s Market, it decided that building on that success and promoting the production of locally grown food would be a boost to the city’s economic viability and be a truly green approach to its commercial future. They now plan to plow ahead with all deliberate speed.

A broad-brush outline of the process was presented by the freshly appointed interim Planning Director, Sonny Fields. The new Farm-based code will begin with an in depth analysis of each parcel for its growth potential. An ad hoc advisory committee composed of horticulturalists, agronomists, locavores, shepherds, cowboys, and other steak-holders will be tasked with developing the detailed design. A five-day meeting, known as a “Hoe-down,” will be held to foster ideas and come up with the specifics of the code.

Some of the concepts that have been floated so far include: narrowing Camino Del Mar to two lanes to accommodate a median strip for cattle drives; allowing crops to growbeyond the existing 14 ft. height limit, and a reconsideration of establishing a goat farm at the north end of town. There has also been the suggestion of using the Shore’s property to provide community allotment plots for residents who want a place to grow their own crops.

Allotments at the Shores?

“We see this as a win-win for the city and the folks in town,” enthused Fields. “Free-range chickens should provide the traffic calming we’ve been looking for, and there will be eggs enough for everyone. We’ll have the freshest produce in the county. Since farming is basically solar powered, we’re a shoo-in for a piece of the stimulus pie. Once we get the Federal Fertilizer, we’ll be shovel-ready. When this thing gets going, Del Mar will have a negative carbon footprint – we’ll not only grow cash crops, but the city will get a financial windfall from our carbon credits.”

Some skeptics see the Farm-based code approach to revitalization as a ploy to establish Del Mar as a State Agricultural District, with all the evident perquisites of that designation. As one critic lamented “If it comes to pass, the city government would not only have its own gun shows, but, in fact, they’d be able to build whatever they damn well please.”



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