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  Let’s Get Serious
Mark Whitehead | Santa Fe

Our last City Council election had no campaign. We had three contenders and three seats. Many in the community have argued that “electing” councilmembers who haven’t campaigned for votes results in leadership that gets disconnected from us, the councilmember’s constituency. This has caused residents to complain that “the council doesn’t listen to us,” and the current council to state, in defense of unilateral or controversial decisions, “the residents just don’t understand why we decide as we do.” Thus we have bulky café patios that circumvented public review impeding the sidewalks of 15th street, a failed and costly undergrounding initiative, and redevelopment planning for downtown that has advanced without meaningful public support.

The November election has three contenders for two seats, so we can look forward to a real campaign. Hopefully the candidates will go beyond typical campaign sloganeering and truly engage the community on the issues facing Del Mar. At a minimum we should expect candidates to address these key issues:

True representative governance. What are the candidate’s views on public involvement? Do they value the role of the various citizen committees (e.g., DRB, Lagoon Committee, Traffic and Parking), or do they favor disbanding them as one sitting council member has suggested?

Form Based Code (FBC). What are the candidate’s ideas about engaging the residential and business community, and the downtown property owners? Is the candidate open to alternatives to FBC for achieving a more vibrant, attractive, and successful business core?

The Fairgrounds. What is the candidate’s understanding of the environmental challenges raised by the fairgrounds’ activities and redevelopment aspirations? Should we buy it? If so, how, why? Should the city zone it?

Land use. This is the perennial big one. Thoughtful planning, design review, and creative balancing of views, privacy and property rights have generated our enviable built environment. These arguably stringent review policies protect our stratospheric property values. What are the candidate’s views on land use regulation?

 
 

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