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EDITORIAL: DRB Quality Control

It is important to know why so many citizens are aroused about the potential revision of Del Mar’s Design Review Ordinance (DRO). The DRO has been the most important quality control process in the development of our town’s character since the adoption of the Community Plan in the ‘70s. These quality controls not only result in our enjoyment of a unique quality of living but increasing property values that validate our careful review process.

Let’s refresh our reading of the Community Plan vision written in the ‘70s by citizen committees, voted on by the electorate and adopted by the City Council:
“Preserve and enhance Del Mar’s special residential character and small town atmosphere with its harmonious blending of buildings and landscape...encourage harmonious development which is in scale with the character of existing development.”

Today, four decades later, many citizens are concerned that this vision is being perverted by some developers who are exploiting some of our neighborhoods for profit—at the expense of existing neighbors whose voices are being lost in the decision process. Although the great majority of DRB cases find satisfactory resolution among competing interests, a small percentage descend into neighborhood rancor that lasts well beyond the hearings. There is a growing feeling that the process has gotten off the tracks.

Again the Community Plan instructs us:
“Conflicts are likely to arise, such as those between private and public interests, and between diverse private interests and between the needs of those who primarily regard their property as a place for living and working, and those who regard it as a commodity which to profit...the interests of the community at large should be steadfastly protected...under no circumstances should decisions be specifically directed to benefit any individuals of the community without regard to the interests of the other members of the community.”

The City Council of today is once again reaching out to the citizenry for advice and guidance. We are encouraged by the establishment of a distinguished ad hoc citizens committee to take a fresh look at the DRO and the process by which developments are reviewed. The committee is working diligently and openly to identify problems, survey what other communities are doing well, and proposing changes that will help us live up to the vision of our Community Plan. We are impressed that committee members have no conflicts of interest and are reaching out to all parties, including those who have a financial interest in development projects. We encourage all citizens to attend these meetings and participate.
Ultimately the proposals of the ad hoc committee will be reviewed by the Design Review Board and the Planning Commission before final review by the City Council.

Some pros and cons for the Ad Hoc redo:

Keep It - Dolores Davies Jamison
Start Over - Linda Rock



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