July 2010 home page

  Haydu Harmony
Bud Emerson | Klish Way


Lee Haydu going over plans. Photo Paul Haydu

Lee Haydu, Chair of Del Mar’s Design Review Board (DRB), is proposing a change in the design review process to formalize the role of neighbors affected by new development proposals. Her recommendation is that applicants be required to involve affected neighbors at the beginning of the process before the DRB hearing is held. Her stated goal is to reduce tension and divisiveness in DRB hearings by encouraging more communication and compromise, leading to neighborhood harmony.

In her testimony before the City Council on June 14, Haydu observed that applicants who have interacted cooperatively with neighbors prior to DRB review usually get through the process with minimal objection. By formalizing what has shown to be effective informally, she believes there will be less controversy surrounding projects, “I have been on the DRB since July of 07 and I have seen so many times when project and the process take longer than it should, mostly when the neighbors haven’t been involved in the process. If the applicant or architect would have a neighborhood meeting then the DRB wouldn’t have to be used as a place where everyone airs their complaints. The dialogue that does occur at the DRB meeting between applicants and interested parties is strained because public hearings don’t have a format that is conducive to the type of information and idea exchanges that can occur in a less formal setting.”

Council members reacted favorably to the Haydu proposal, emphasizing that they would like a very simple process, not a complicated bureaucratic procedure. Haydu assured them that the basic idea was to encourage information exchange and dialogue among neighbors and future neighbors, not a cumbersome extra step. In fact it “would save the applicant money in the long run with fewer redesigns and repeat hearings. It would also save the city money not spending as much staff time reviewing projects month after month.”

City Council unanimously approved a one year pilot test beginning as soon as written guidelines can be developed by staff. Haydu added that eventually she “would like to see architects use computer models so neighbors could get a realistic idea of what a project would like in their neighborhoods. My ultimate goal is to make the DRB process as user-friendly as possible, both for applicants as well as neighbors. After all, they will be neighbors for a long time. Hopefully this process will lower the decibel level and result in more neighborliness and community building.”


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