March 2012 home page

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Why do people choose Del Mar? Factors that are often cited are good schools and beach access. Del Mar property as a good investment is another motivator. Increasingly, we are seeing buyers choosing Del Mar for second homes, vacation homes, or vacation rental property. The census shows that our population has dropped by about 20% in the last decade--perhaps those second home buyers do not count in the census count? It is hard to determine how many of these second-homers are voting here, being active in civic life, or utilizing city services.

Some have speculated that our tight land use policies have resulted in our significant property value increases over several decades. It is interesting that some new residents who have spent millions to acquire property here then chafe at the strict land use planning and review processes. Some years back a political poll showed that our review processes were very unpopular for those here less than five years,but very popular for those here longer than five years.

Most of our elected city council members over the years have run on platforms of preserving the best of Del Mar and making enhancements to make Del Mar even better. Based upon voter registration numbers 23% of the voters have lived in Del Mar for more than 17 years while 38% have lived in Del Mar for less than 6 years. For most people, Del Mar is a choice. There are many other places with beaches, with good schools and with easy access to the rest of the county. There are places where one can build much bigger houses with less hassle or live in a more rural setting. So why do so many people choose Del Mar and are there different reasons between the old-timers and newcomers?

In a recent editorial in the New York Times, David Brooks declared that we are in the age of data-ism. An age where we count and use statistics to help make our decisions. While we all have anecdotal accounts as to why people moved here (of course some were born and raised here) there is no reliable data to help us study reasons people choose to live in Del Mar. In fact the reasons we moved here may not be the same reasons we stay. Such information could certainly be used to help determine priorities for the current and future councils. Finding out what is best about Del Mar could help us decide what to preserve and what to enhance. Perhaps we could use our connections to the academic community to find a graduate student in sociology or anthropology who would like to study this issue.

The Sandpiper asks that we all reach out to our new neighbors who have become new Del Mar home owners and ask what motivated them to move to Del Mar. Invite them to dinner whenever they are in town, if in fact they live elsewhere throughout the year. Have block parties and ask for neighbors’ contact information. Host a disaster preparedness meeting and connect neighbors for the purpose of watching out for each other. But try to understand why fellow residents live here and what they want most from our community. Then tell us what you find out and we will publish the findings. Send us what you have uncovered about those who have chosen Del Mar to editor@delmarsandpiper.org


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