July/August 2013 home page

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It’s Elemental!
Bud Emerson | Klish Way

Good news for Del Mar--after two years of striving we have achieved state certification of our required housing element for 2013-21. Kudos to Planning Manager, Adam Birnbaum for expertly shepherding the plan through the community process and state review.

Along with every other city, we are responsible for accommodating our share of a state-wide legislative policy mandating “the attainment of a decent home and suitable living environment for every Californian.” Because we completed the task within specified timelines, the certified housing element is valid for eight years, vs. the four-year cycle applied to cities still working on their elements.

Our application states “This Housing Element Update represents a policy statement about how Del Mar will continue to strive toward maintaining and enhancing housing opportunities while also preserving its desirability as a place in which to live, work and play.” The policy statement requires us to adopt specific implementation steps to actually achieve our fair share goals.

Our regional fair share has been determined to be 71 new housing units, of which 22 must be “affordable.” As a small, largely built-out city, Del Mar has very limited opportunities for affordable units so it is impressive that we have devised more than 50 programs that could help us achieve our goal. Each program will require thorough review by the community at noticed public hearings before they would officially be adopted and implemented.

Three programs show promise of early adoption and will begin to be processed through our city decision processes. One involves the Fairgrounds where we have mutual agreements for the construction of some affordable units that will be primarily available to fairgrounds employees who meet “affordable” income levels.

Another is rezoning the two “dirt” lots on the east side of Jimmy Durante Blvd near the bridge, changing them from commercial (where an office building has already been approved) to a new multi-family residential zone. The rezone could accommodate enough density in the neighborhood to provide 6-8 town home-type units of the overall project for rent at affordable levels. Preliminary feasability studies suggest that as many as four such units could be deeded to a Del Mar community-based nonprofit organization.

The other program which could be implemented within a few years is to add “granny flats” to a limited number (6-8) of existing homes sprinkled throughout the community. This program would allow about 500 square feet of additional floor area ratio (FAR) to be added to sites with single-family homes and rented to those who meet income qualifications, including students and family members.
These and other programs in the new housing element would help us meet not only the state requirements, but enrich the mix of residents within our community. Affordable income levels would qualify many who already are part of our community such as teachers, fire fighters, city staff members, and local business employees.

All of these ideas were derived within the framework of the housing element’s goal of creating “housing opportunities while also preserving its desirability as a place in which to live, work and play.”



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