October 2012 home page

EDITORIAL : Double Vision


Photo Art Olson


Regarding the Village Specific Plan (VSP), Prop J on the ballot, Sandpiper editors are a representation of a divided community. Usually we can find a consensus to write an editorial. Not so this month. We have all studied the VSP carefully and come to different conclusions about its merits. It seems we are all looking at the same movie but seeing different pictures, plots, and outcomes.

The core mission of the Sandpiper is support of the Community Plan. Ironically, both those FOR and AGAINST base some of their conclusions on the 1976 Community Plan. Those FOR think that Prop J finally implements the vision of putting pedestrians first, regulating traffic speeds and creating a walkable downtown with viable resident-serving businesses. Those AGAINST think Prop J undermines the vision of a small scale, resident-oriented downtown, provides for too much development over the current 45% FAR and allows two stories on the west side of Camino del Mar. Those AGAINST also see no guarantee that any new retail will be resident serving as there is no financial plan for the downtown.

Those FOR think the roundabout, two-lane (one lane in each direction) configuration of Camino Del Mar will tame traffic by slowing cars down and take the pressure off of neighboring streets by increasing CDM capacity. They think roundabouts have proven to be effective in hundreds of small villages in Europe and are being installed in towns all over America. Those AGAINST think the CDM roundabout, two-lane plan is untested in Del Mar, that the stop light at 15th St will back up traffic and this configuration will contribute to spillover traffic onto the residential streets, may increase emergency response times and may be more dangerous for bike riders and pedestrians.

Those AGAINST think the increased density of Prop J will transform downtown from a small village to a more urbanized two-story, view-blocking corridor. Prop J thresholds, which are the only safeguards, require a supermajority vote (4 of 5 council members) to enforce and therefore will make it very difficult to curtail future unwanted development. Those FOR think the increased density will be phased in gradually over 30 years with safeguards against unwelcome development and view blockages. Thresholds in the plan will give the community frequent chances to modify or halt development if needed.

Those AGAINST see Prop J as a firm commitment to more lenient regulations for the next 30 years even if it unfolds in ways we do not like. Those FOR see Prop J as a plan, not a blueprint, with enough flexibility and safeguards to make modifications as implementation unfolds. Those FOR see that Prop J is a culmination of a number of years of planning based on citizen input. Those AGAINST believe it is a top down plan that far exceeds the goal of revitalization and ignores the potential for incremental changes like a specific plan for the City Hall site and a parking lot under the church lot that could be accomplished without Prop J.

Most editors agreed that the Council should have delayed the vote until a community consensus could emerge. The Council rejected this recommendation, so we are now faced with an up or down vote. The decision is now in the hands of the voters. Our best advice is to take the time to study the plan and use your vote wisely based upon what your vision of Del Mar should be. Ultimately, it is your Del Mar.



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