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Del Mar's Community Plan

No Vacation
Art Olson | Avenida Primavera

Should the City Council be giving away land when adjacent property owners request a “vacation” of City controlled property such as “paper alleys” and extended road rights of way? Some argue that the property is “unnecessary for present or prospective public use.” and thus should be released to the adjacent neighbors. Another viewpoint is that the property is absolutely necessary to provide much needed open space, including greenery that benefits the neighborhood and community as a whole.

Granting a vacation allows one property to increase its floor area ratio and even in certain cases to subdivide into two houses. Del Mar today is “built-out” and eliminating open space that may result in increasing the density of buildings seems inconsistent with the goals, policies and objectives of the Community Plan:

“Central to this Community Plan is the principle that the interests of the community at large should be steadfastly protected within the framework of the essential rights of individual residents, property owners, and those doing business in the community. In implementing the plan, various kinds of conflicts are likely to arise, such as those between private and public interests, 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 by which to profit. It is intended that such conflicts be resolved on the basis of the comprehensive and long-term concerns ... and under no circumstances should decisions be specifically directed to benefit any individuals of the community without regard to the interests of other members of the community.”

It is up to the City Council to consider whether the “use as open unbuildable space” is compromised by the granting of a vacation and if it violates the Community Plan and act accordingly. Previous City Councils have taken that position and denied other vacation requests. However, On October 19 the City Council approved the vacation of 2,058 square feet off of Grand Ave west of El Camino Real, at the entrance to downtown Del Mar from the I-5 Via de la Valle exit and the Fairgrounds. A second vacation request for 1,147 sq. ft. off the Serpentine Curve on the hillside was continued.

As a recent article on making a “perfect soufflé” noted: “it is what’s not there that is just as important as what is.” Empty open space is useful.


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