Sam Borgese | 10th Street and Anthony Corso | Stratford Court
With all the recent (and past) community discussion on revitalizing Del Mar Village we concluded that an exploration of past plans and efforts meant to guide Del Mar’s future was warranted to ensure that any “great ideas” were not lost over time and with changes in city personnel and city council representation. What started out as a manageable chunk of research turned out to be somewhat exhausting given the amount and magnitude of planning documents and reports.
A similar exploration was initiated in 2007 by the Del Mar Village Association which engaged the Clue Group in an economic study that resulted in the publication of the document, “Revitalization Plan for the Del Mar Village.” The group reviewed almost two dozen plans and reports prepared for the City over the past 30 years. It lists more than 20 planning studies ranging from Community or General Planning to specific plans related to environmental preservation, traffic, parking etc.
Our effort lead to the discovery of a great deal of duplication and replication no matter the author, planning group or source. Most importantly, many of the ideas and endorsements seem worthy of further consideration, if not outright adoption. Most studies began with an endorsement of the overall goal and the familiar refrain: “Preserve and enhance the special character of Del Mar. the elements of which are a village-like community of substantially single family residential character, a picturesque and rugged site, and a beautiful beach.”
The Del Mar 2000 Plan, devoted to the revival of the commercial center, made our time-consuming research endeavor seem worthwhile. It offers an insightful and perceptive recommendation addressed to the major failing of most planning-- the inability of plans and planning programs to produce change. It suggests that emphasis be given to implementation, rather than further planning, and that an organization be created for implementation purposes. The organization would be in the form of a non-profit corporation, charged with the implementation of plans adopted by the city. The purpose of the organization would be to act as an implementor rather than as a regulator of development—the role typically played by planning departments.
The document notes a neglect of many past plans and concludes that the adoption and implementation of Del Mar 2000 will require the dedicated effort of an implementation organization created for that purpose—one which can serve as an advocate and chief negotiator of the city’s development objectives, as well as the protector of the plan’s principles. In this regard, it argues that the implementation of Del Mar 2000 requires an approach to planning that is change-oriented, rather than quality control and regulatory in nature.( One might presume the same hold true for all planning engagements!)
Another discovery was the continued use of key terms and words thread throughout all the reports and documents reviewed. If the community conversation is to progress to action, perhaps more time has to be taken to define and to agree upon the precise definition of many terms such as: “village,” “community identity,” “small town atmosphere,” “harmonious blending of buildings,” “social balance,” “alternative retail,” “vital balance” or “compatible with the intellectual needs of the community.”
Finally we conclude that given the vast number of plans and projects with their impressive offerings and somewhat visionary recommendations, and the further generation of laudable ideas emanating from the Community Conversation program, that now is the time to “walk the talk”— to define the key terminology of words that trigger our vision of a robust village, adopt important recommendations and create an independent, non-commercial organization to devote essential time and effort to the very complicated and at times complex process of implementation.