Bud Emerson | Klish Way
As part of a California State strategy to increase the supply of housing for our growing population, every city is required to designate properties in its commercial district for residential zoning no lower than 20 units per acre.
After the defeat of the downtown specific plan (Prop J), opponents loudly objected to zoning our central commercial district at 20. In public they proposed instead that the site on Jimmy Durante be zoned to comply with state requirements. The city listened and got the state to certify the Housing element of our Community Plan designating this site at 20-25 units per acre.
Some of those who proposed this site are now objecting, including people who own properties that are built with densities as high as 30 units per acre.
Watermark was advised by the city to propose a Specific Plan with the designated 20-25 zoning on this site to comply with the state requirement. The Specific Plan process requires the applicants to provide a great more detail about the plan than would be required with a simple rezoning. The Watermark applicants have expended money and effort for more than two years to develop a Specific Plan proposal. This proposal is now in a review process that involves open public workshops followed by formal public hearings before the Design Review Board and the Planning Commission. The final step is review and vote by the City Council.
Several other facts are important to understand.
• This new neighborhood will be a new entrance at the north end of Del Mar where there has long been an ugly dirt parking lot.
• Watermark has a permit to build a commercial office building with paved surface parking if this Specific Plan is not approved. Preliminary traffic studies conclude that traffic will be significantly greater with office use.
• Failure of the city to zone this site at 20 units per acre, will leave us out of compliance with the state- certified Housing Element of our Community Plan. This will undoubtedly expose us to legal liability.
• The proposal protects the hillside bluffs and the natural vegetation from development, protecting open space there at 21% of the lot. Including the bluffs, courtyards, patios, walkways, and setbacks the total open space adds up to nearly 60% of the site.