Shirley King | Avenida Primavera
What is the relationship between Del Mar’s state-mandated Housing Element (2013-21) and the proposed development of the two-acre site at the corner of Jimmy Durante Blvd and San Dieguito Drive?
KG: Our city is always subject to State enforcement action if the minimum requirements of its Housing Element are not met. We are obligated to eliminate the regulatory barriers that limit the availability of our fair share of affordable housing. Because of our lack of raw land for affordable housing and our community’s need to attract a workforce that sustains our local businesses, we need more attainable housing for our business/service workers and our many seniors who are eligible for affordable housing.
Based on various considerations, including the fact that it is one of the City’s few remaining large undeveloped sites and that it is located along a major roadway near transit, our Housing Element did identify this site as a potential area to be assigned for land-use designation with density in the range of 20-25 dwelling units per acre. This is the range which the State recognizes as accommodating more affordable housing. The current owners of these two parcels, in the North Commercial (NC) Zone, expressed a desire to construct a multifamily residential project on these properties. Ongoing discussions were conducted with the San Dieguito Land Partners, LLC (Watermark) about the processes for land-use modifications necessary to accommodate multi-family residential. This proposed project is considering up to seven units for affordable housing.
SK: Why was the development of a Specific Plan recommended for the proposed Watermark project?
KG: When Zoning Code changes are pursued, a Specific Plan is the most intense and extensive examination of all of the conditions to regulate the development of a property. The State grants local planning agencies the authority to prepare Specific Plans for any area covered by the General Plan (Community Plan). The legislative actions involved are an amended Community Plan, Zoning Map and Local Coastal Program designations along with the requirements of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Carmel Valley Precise Plan (1980) was a similar process that initiated a Precise Specific Plan in the south end of Del Mar when specific community benefits were achieved as part of the residential approvals - the clustering of homes for the preservation of an environs with significant vegetation and tree canopy.
The Specific Plan closely evaluates the benefits for the community, the regulatory parameters of the zone changes, design guidelines to ensure specific objectives and the conditions for community-protection. Whatever development an applicant or property owner such as the Watermark project proposes, does not mean there is any certainty that it will be approved as submitted. There are many evaluative processes of judgment and input (Community Participation Program, EIR, Design Review Board, Planning Commission, City Council) that offer formal junctures for public input. Unlike the Specific Plans for the L’Auberge, the Plaza and the Garden project, this Specific Plan would not be subject to Measure B requirements and a public vote since it is not located within the City’s Central core district. The costs of the Specific Plan and the environmental document are the responsibility of the applicant.
SK: What is the current planning stage of the Watermark proposed project?
KG: The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) as required under CEQA is being prepared by an independent consultant and is expected to be released in a month or so. The review period of the DEIR and submission of written comments is 45 days. This is an important time for the public to evaluate the project and express any concerns. The Final EIR must address all public comments and include a written response to each significant environmental issue raised by the comments.
SK: What is the best mechanism for the public to be notified when documents and notices are filed for the Watermark proposed project?
KG: Residents should sign on to ‘Stay Informed’ at the the City of Del Mar’s website (www.delmar.ca.us). Go to the blue banner on the Home Page and choose ‘Stay Informed’. Alerts will be delivered to your e-mail box according to the options chosen. The Draft EIR will be available on the City’s website.