July 2010 home page

  If We Form It Will They Come?
Ann Gardner | Via Latina

more about the FBC


The Plaza. Form: 10 out of 10 points. Function: 5 points.
Photo Ann Gardner


If we provide new building forms for downtown, will the stores we want come to Del Mar? That is the question a number of skeptical speakers asked Council members on June 14th after the Form Based Code (FBC) Ad Hoc Advisory Committee presented the basics of a code to replace existing zoning downtown. Planning Director Brian Mooney said, “This is a hybrid form based code that includes both form and function depending on what the City Council wants.” He suggested that, under a FBC, first floors would be retail only with office, professional services and some residential on second floors.

The question is what kind of retail? The Sandpiper Downtown Survey elicited more individual comments on this issue than any other. The comments were surprisingly consistent 1) with each other, 2) with the recommendations of the Revitalization Plan for Del Mar (CLUE) and 3) with Councilmember Don Mosier’s comments. “Whatever we do,” says Mosier, “this plan must reduce single car traffic and trips to regional (services). Smart growth is greener growth… so we can walk to what we need.”

The majority of comments gleaned from the Sandpiper survey suggest that residents most want: a drug store, a bookstore “with lectures, music and functions that bring the community together,” “... family oriented restaurants. The happy hour is wonderful…but not a family thing,” hardware/home repair items “It CAN be done-just forget the lumber!,” a grocery store “…a quality grocery store…a small Henry’s, Trader Joe’s, Seaside Market or Oakville Grocery would be very popular. NOT a ‘grocery store’ that sells mostly liquor” and home/garden shops with kitchen supplies and housewares. Also mentioned frequently were a bakery, a cheese shop, sports oriented stores perhaps with bicycle rentals and all in an atmosphere that welcomes weekend activities for the entire family.

“I am dreaming of an Ace hardware, a bike shop and a small pharmacy like North County Pharmacy.”

“In my perfect world I would not have to go to Carmel Valley to go to the hardware store, to La Jolla to go to Trader Joes or whole Foods. We have to drive down or across the freeway to get everything.”

“Places where you can buy the everyday things of life. Things I leave town to buy are drugstore items, things for the yard, greeting cards, some kind of take out food besides pizza.”

The results of the CLUE report were similar: “We believe that Del Mar…could realistically increase sales to …residents in four categories of convenience-oriented retail goods and service.” The four categories? Groceries, dining out, hardware and reading materials, e.g. “…a small bookstore (with a) performance space where authors can sign and read from their books.” The report also suggested unique home furnishing and ”incorporating a flexible use theatre for live performance and film exhibition into the plans for the new city hall building; its peak parking need times would complement those of city offices well, and the space could be used for public function when needed.”

We all agree on what we want. Will the Form Based Code get us there?


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