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Is Del Mar Different? You Betcha!
Bud Emerson, Klish | This piece has been excerpted from an article originally published in the Sandpiper several years ago.

Why do Del Marians spend so much energy debating local government issues?

We are different. This community has decided very intentionally to differentiate itself from other cities. Our founders were real people, living in real houses, who made the key strategic decisions about what kind of community we wanted to become. Our first attempt to define ourselves occurred when we decided not to be part of San Diego. With a lot of energetic discussion and debate, we narrowly voted to become a city. Nearly thirty years ago we launched a process to sharpen our focus on exactly what kind of a city we wanted it to be. That process, involving hundreds of citizens working in committees for many months, produced a definitive document, our General Plan.
That Community Plan is more than just a planning document. It is virtually our constitution, a statement of core values that describes how we propose to live together as a community. It does differentiate us from other cities. It formally commits us to preserving our small-town, village character. In 1976 Del Mar voters agreed overwhelmingly to be bound by this “Community Plan.”

Our Plan asks neighbors to work together in a design review process, so that new structures do not adversely affect one another’s views and private spaces. To help avoid urban over-crowding, it commits us to investing in open space preservation. Our Plan encourages small, resident-serving retail stores in our downtown area.
These values, translated into action, have produced numerous community assets that many of us probably take for granted. Instead of a high-rise condo project in Crest Canyon, we enjoy open space. Instead of a restaurant row, we enjoy Powerhouse and Sea Grove parks. Instead of a long boardwalk thirty feet from property lines, we enjoy a generous expanse of public beach. This value system helped us reduce the size of the Plaza development by 50%. Our Community Plan has led us to make many other decisions that have resulted in more open space, more protected views, and more protection for our small town way of life.

We know we can make a difference in how we live together. Del Mar is different and we are proud of it. You betcha!


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