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Art Olson | Avenida Primavera

The City of Del Mar has announced significant progress on plans for a new City Hall and Civic Center. The “where, what, and how” to move the project forward has been a perennial stumbling block to replacing our current decrepit facility. So, the city made the bold move of contracting a number of consultants to help plan the path forward. After months of research and analysis their reports are now in the City’s hands, and will be released to the public shortly. The Sandpiper received an early copy of the 825 pages of documents provided by the four selected consulting groups. In a Sandpiper exclusive we give a brief summary here.

To consider the question of the location for the proposed facility, the City retained Seymour Spacey, the widely acknowledged “Placemaking Guru” of the firm Spacey Consulting. Mr. Spacey’s report has made a strong case that the new Civic Center must become a place. “Misplacing a place,” he writes, “and people would have no idea where to go.” He advises that to make it a place there must be a “there” there that people can find and experience. Previously Mr. Spacey has applied this philosophy in cities like Newport Beach and Laguna Beach to great effect. He remarks, however, that the trick will be getting people behind the idea and supporting it with their hearts and feet.

To look into the question of “What should the Civic Center be?” Del Mar contracted Dr. Karl Friedrich Weisskopf, a psychiatrist well known for his penetrating psychoanalysis of cities, large and small, as described in his best selling book “The Psychic Apparatus of Cities.” Dr. Weisskopf’s report analyzes the Civic Center project in terms of Del Mar’s personality --- id, ego and superego. The project must cater to the id, or the basic needs and desires of the city, but must also reflect its ego, the face that it presents to the world, as well as its super-ego, its aspirations for the City to come. To know what to build, he maintains that we must respect all of these aspects of Del Mar’s personality, and must come to know Del Mar’s true identity. Dr. Weisskopf recommends that prior to designing the facility the city undergo a sufficient course of psychotherapy to wrestle with its demons until it realizes its inner self.

The question of how to get the project underway and paid for was parceled out to two consultants, one advising on the financial issues, and the other on fostering community consensus.

For financial advice, the City retained Darius Kashkari of Kashkari and Lews Asset Management and former financial advisor to such firms as Washington Mutual, Arthur Anderson and Lehman Brothers. Mr. Kashkari’s analysis of Del Mar’s financial health as well as the current and projected trends in financial markets has lead him to recommend that the City immediately invest its General Fund heavily in Bitcoin Credit Default Swap Futures (BCDSFs). He calls this market “Self Hedging,” and asserts that it is a sure bet. He projects that by the time the project is ready to build, the City will have more than enough funds to cover a Civic Center that will be the envy of cities from Imperial Beach to San Marcos.

Focus group sage, Hector Peoples was contracted to advise on the City’s consensus building effort. Mr. Peoples, who is known nationally for his work on customer satisfaction in the health insurance and airline industries, proposes what he calls “opinion herding” to get everyone on the same page. He recommends the use of more citizen surveys for this purpose. In his report he points out the problems with Del Mar’s previous questionnaires and suggests that the flaws lie both in the nature of the questions and in the responses they solicit. Firstly, he says; “never ask a question for which you don’t already know the answer.” He recommends structuring multiple-choice answers to cover the appropriate range of the desired response. He suggests, having only 3 choices for the response to any question. 1) “love it”; 2) “best ever”; and 3) “strongly agree.” This, he reports, will make the survey statistics much better, and everyone will have a say -- the Del Mar Way.

A City official, who spoke off the record because the report has not been officially released, talked glowingly about the Consultants’ reports. “We now have a clear path forward. We’re preparing a new citizen survey, are currently in negotiations with “Make-a-Place,” the national franchise of place mat stores, as the anchor tenant for the Civic Center’s public/private partnership, and we are purchasing enough couches for high throughput psychoanalysis.“ He estimated that the project would be shovel ready by April 2020.

NOTE: the full report can be accessed after April 1 at



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