May 2010 home page


Del Mar: In Search of Utopia
Pam Slater-Price | Grand Avenue


Del Mar is a very special place. It has its own mystique that touches all who come to visit. The fortunate few get to live here. So how do we improve our village without losing the essential charm and soul that makes it so uniquely desirable?

In order to invigorate the City, our elected and appointed officials have been hard at work to generate ideas that will save the village without destroying it. Now we, the residents, are being asked to participate. I reviewed the questions put forth by the Sandpiper and will offer my suggestions.

First, traffic circles should be created along Camino Del Mar. They not only add charm, but reduce the stop-and-go patterns that cause so much air pollution and frustration. Instead, there is an orderly flow of traffic that by design flows at a slower speed but keeps moving. This will reduce diversion of traffic into our neighborhoods. Traffic circles are a mainstay of European villages and cities.

Second, there must be more streetscape and ornamental design in the city. Del Mar should continue its efforts to become an official MainStreet city. There are many advantages that accrue with membership. Small grants are given to shop owners for facade improvements and other simple yet effective low-cost solutions. However, our codes must be changed to allow for these improvements. Look at Downtown Encinitas for example. There is a cost, but if one considers the current and past expenditures on numerous studies and consultants with little result, perhaps the money can be better spent.

Form Based codes are under serious consideration but this approach is hard to implement in a built out city and requires an EIR with associated expenses. To speed the process and gain the desired results, redevelopment could be encouraged by changing the codes to allow 100% or greater FAR. Keep the height limit on the east side of Camino Del Mar and allow up to two stories on the west side, contingent upon design review. Consideration could then be given to varied rooflines and other features that keep the charm of Del Mar.

Encourage developers to build parking structures on the west side where the properties are far below street level. Put restaurants and shops at street level with office, residential and professional services above. Santa Barbara has done a great job along State Street.

Consider Pay and Display parking on side streets to generate revenue to assist with keeping the beaches clean and other city services. This would provide an on-going revenue stream year round. Please consider these practical solutions as we move forward.



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