April 2010 home page


Form Follows Function

Within this month’s Sandpiper are three articles describing different visions for Del Mar’s downtown. None of these visions count on a change in architecture or events. Rather they build on the current architecture and the uniqueness of Del Mar and the people who live here. Del Mar has been built around the preservation of the beach, beach access, the bluffs, the lagoons and canyons. Visitors are attracted to Del Mar because of this preservation and the human scale of our downtown and village. People move to Del Mar so that they can access not only nature, but also are able to easily access downtown amenities.

According to the 2008 Kennedy Smith report to “revitalize” Del Mar’s downtown, the retail experience should match the buying power of the residents. Our Community Plan clearly calls for a vital downtown of “resident serving businesses.”

For decades, outside marketing experts have tried to impose their expectations on small towns such as Del Mar. They use housing values and average incomes to determine the type of businesses to bring here. Over and over these businesses have failed in Del Mar or could not keep up with the rents.

Instead of using crude demographic yardsticks, there needs to be a more segmented analysis of Del Mar’s population, our needs, and our shopping preferences, as well as the life style that attracts both residents, regional visitors, and tourists.
We seek convenience (walking, easy parking, friendly and competent clerks); enjoyable dining experiences; and perhaps shops with creative, unique “things.” While we are not going to support a traditional hardware store or a full scale grocery store, small businesses catering to the life style that we all have will not only attract residents but people from the area surrounding Del Mar.

The first step is not defining form. The first step is to define who we are and what we want to become. Form will follow function. It is time for the City of Del Mar and the DMVA to help the community define a compelling vision for our downtown and then work to attract and support businesses and activities that fit our vision.

To kickstart the process, the Sandpiper is now encouraging you to submit your ideas, your vision for our downtown. Put on your creative thinking caps and send us a letter or participate in our online survey.

What's your vision for downtown Del Mar? 
Share your opinions and ideas by participating in our online survey.

This survey ended on May 5.


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