May 2012 home page


Editorial | Mansions on Steroids

Mansions on Steroids
Bud Emerson | Klish Way


This picture was taken on September 8, 2011 during the early construction of the house on the ocean bluff at 12th St. It has 7000 square feet of livable area on an 8000 square foot lot.
Photo Art Olson.


When the word “mansionization” was first introduced into the Del Mar development vocabulary it addressed combining two lots to allow a large FAR (floor area ratio) residence and other livable space on the enlarged property. Today mansionization is rearing its ugly bulk and mass on single lots through developments with massive basements and equally massive covered outdoor “living or entertainment” areas.

One recent example is a project on 12th Street west of CDM proposing 5,083 SF of livable area and 2,200 SF of covered “living/entertainment” decks. This results in 7,000 SF of livable area on an 8,000 SF lot. That is mansionization in an “optimized” development plan. Out of scale with the adjacent residences, out of scale with the zoning intentions (R2), and out of scale with the community.


September 8, 2011. Photo Art Olson.


The root cause of this over reaching optimization of redevelopment is the allowance of an unrestricted non-FAR basement and unrestricted non-FAR decks. The only dike blocking a flood of these optimized mansions is the Design Review Ordinance prohibiting unnecessary bulk and mass and stopping ocean and scenic view blockages.

The community needs to be aware of this single lot optimized mansionization’s threat to the bulk and mass and view ordinances. Without these ordinances residents will be staring at vertical walls instead of ocean and scenic views, or perhaps worse that your private areas will now be invaded by entertainment decks.


Covered outdoor “living or entertainment” areas. 
April 28, 2012.  Photo Virginia Lawrence


We cannot let 50 years of vigilant design controls morph Del Mar into Pacific Beach with entertainment deck revelers spread over an entire property or neighborhood.Much worse than the potential party central atmosphere would be the loss of the eclectic nature of our residential community and its natural sloping topography that affords almost everyone broad ocean views and forest scenic views.

Del Mar needs to take a breath, halt development permits and allow the community and our planners time to strengthen the Design Review Ordinance to prohibit mansionization optimization. If we wait and allow even one more development permit that over reaches, optimizing new developments, it will be too late and everything we value will be lost to developers who have no sense of community, no sense of neighborhood and who develop for massive financial return instead of sensible design and development harmony. Let’s send them a message that this is not how it works in Del Mar. For Del Mar greed is certainly not good.


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