Howard Gad | Chairman, Form-Based Code Committee
This Sandpiper issue includes results of an on-line community survey which focused on how residents feel about Del Mar’s commercial district. The survey was initiated by Sandpiper editors and, although I have not seen the results, I am hopeful residents understand the need to revitalize our downtown business district. I think it would have been more productive to present the survey to the community after our future public workshops so residents had a better understanding of all the issues involved.
The City Council has recognized for years that something needs to be done to help revitalize our business district in order to continue to attract visitors to our shops, restaurants and stores. We have lost a significant number of businesses in town to other neighboring cities. These competing cities have embraced redevelopment and provide more reasonable development regulations. Look at the fun, vibrant activity along Cedros! We have significant commercial vacancies in town, not all of which can be blamed on the great recession. Quality tenants for our empty commercial space look at the substandard condition of many of our buildings and decide to locate elsewhere. This is not good for Del Mar’s public finances or the overall residential environment.
This issue has been building for years even during the good times, but last year the City Council decided to take the bull by the horns and do something about it. Study after study over the years helped road map what could be achieved, but a tool to implement those ideas needed to be found. After much discussion and review, the City Council determined that using Form-Based Code zoning would work best to help kick start redevelopment efforts in downtown and meet the goals of the Community plan. Our Form-Based Code (FBC) committee members were appointed by the City Council a little over a year ago and we have been working tirelessly to make the Council’s vision for downtown a reality.
The FBC Committee is nearing completion on a draft of Design Standards and Guidelines for future redevelopment in the commercial core and a draft of a lot-by-lot regulating plan is being compiled. On June 14th at 7:00 pm, the FBC committee will be giving an update presentation to the City Council on our work thus far. At that time, we will set a date for public workshops to update the community at large on our work and receive input on resident’s thoughts and ideas.
This continues to be a “work in progress” and adjustments to the FBC program will continue to take place until we all feel comfortable with the end result. In the end, the FBC rezoning will go to the Planning Commission for additional public input and then to the City Council. Whether a public vote will be required to implement FBC zoning will be up to the City Council.
For more information go to the Form-Based Code section of the Del Mar City website (http://www.delmar.ca.us) or contact Brian Mooney at (858) 755-9313. A FBC public meeting schedule is available on the City website, as well as videos of all previous televised meetings. All are welcome to give input at meetings and the FBC webpage has a section for comments.