Dave Druker | 10th Street
The draft specific plan for Downtown Del Mar has been published along with the EIR for the plan. The plan relies upon the modification of Camino del Mar to be one lane north and one lane south with roundabouts at 9th, 11th, 13th and 15th Streets. The modification from two lanes to one lane allows for more parking on the street (specifically between 11th and 9th streets on the west side of Camino del Mar – where there is no parking today - and between 10th and 11th streets on the east side where there is limited parking due to curb cuts.) The reduction in lanes will provide for wider sidewalks and softening the visibility of two story elements that would be allowed on the west side of Camino del Mar.
Yet the traffic study is flawed. Specifically, it does not take into consideration the stop light at Plaza and Camino del Mar and it does not consider that traffic diverting to Stratford Court, Luneta, Nob, Crest and Coast. The EIR sites a letter from the City Traffic Engineer that states that diversion traffic will take longer than traffic traveling on Camino del Mar even when it is backed up. While the amount of time to divert off of Camino del Mar is most likely longer, there is a huge reward to most people to keep moving in their car rather than inching along in traffic. Also the study does not consider the unique traffic patterns caused by the fair and the race track whenever the horse race program is finished on a daily basis. While it might be possible to stop traffic from diverting to Stratford Ct at 9th and 11th, it is not possible to stop traffic from diverting onto Stratford Court at 4th.
The traffic study if approved could give the Fairgrounds, the City of San Diego and SANDAG carte blanche to create developments that will send more cars into Del Mar. Del Mar will have no means to take the position that the traffic impacts are unacceptable. The traffic study projects that Del Mar by reducing the lanes on Camino del Mar to two, can handle up to 26,000 ADT’s (average daily trips) both northbound and southbound along Camino del Mar, while it only needs to handle about 20,000 ADT’s over the next 20 years. If instead traffic lights were installed at 11th and 13th streets, Camino del Mar could handle 30,000 ADT’s. Most of these ADT’s are through traffic not Del Martians traveling through town.
The financial analysis is extremely weak. There is no discerning as to whether the development will be completed by current owners who would continue to reap Prop 13 benefits or by new owners who would be assessed on the new property value and the improvements to the property. There is no analysis as to whether the rental rates would be financially viable for new businesses. Nor is there an analysis as to whether it makes economic sense for a current owner with little to no mortgage and low property taxes to redevelop their property. There is no designation of usage for the new developments, so will the developments be resident serving or tourist serving.
The risk of this specific plan is that Del Mar could look like every other strip mall in the county as two story buildings are put up on both sides of Camino Del Mar and the unique blend of old and new architecture is replaced by medium sized boxes as the plan only notates increased FAR and height and does not provide specifics for the look and feel of each to be developed property. There is no guarantee that the actual developed properties will fit into the current eclectic architecture of Del Mar downtown.
Finally the specific plan is for a long period of time. If any new development is not to our satisfaction, only an election can change the plan.