The Sandpiper is committed to helping citizens learn as much as possible to make good decisions in the local 2016 election. The ballot is shaping up to be quite full with much to decide at the regional, state, and national levels. We worry that important Del Mar issues and candidates may not get the attention they deserve.
In this issue you will see how the City Council candidates want to present themselves and their qualifications in their own words. We offered each of them 300 unedited words. The entire field is represented.
In the October issue we will print candidate responses to Sandpiper questions designed to make clear where they stand on key issues now on our community agenda.
We will not be printing unsolicited statements and endorsements from the candidates and their supporters in print or on our website.
The Sandpiper editors believe our job is to help readers see the merits of all of the candidates and to clarify what is at stake with key issues in the campaign.
Our questions to the candidates next month will focus on the following issues:
1. SHORT TERM RENTAL BUSINESSES (STRB)
A growing number of residents think the quality of their neighborhoods is deteriorating because of the “spring break” behaviors of rotating groups of vacationers in nearby STRBs. Property owners/managers and investors in STRBs have asserted their financial interests to rent their units through agencies such as AirBNB, VRBO and realtors. The City Council members are split between those who favor banning STRBs and those who want to regulate them more strictly.
2. SALES TAX PROPOSAL Measure Q
A proposal to add 1% sales tax is on the ballot. About 80% of current sales taxes are paid by visitors and more than half of that is from fairgrounds sales. Only 1% of the current 8% goes to Del Mar but the proposed additional 1% will go entirely to Del Mar. Visitors number more than 5 million per year using the services that are paid for by 4,000 residents. The approximate $2 million in proceeds per year can be used for such capital projects as our new Shores Park, undergrounding all utility lines, completing downtown streetscape improvements, and other capital projects.
3. VOTING INITIATIVE Measure R
A ballot measure, designed by opponents of the Watermark housing proposal would require voter approval for development projects in any commercial zone that are 25,000 square feet or larger by amending the Community Plan, Housing Element and Municipal Code. The City Attorney analysis concludes that the initiative is badly flawed, conflicts with planning and zoning procedures and Measure B, is inconsistent with the Local Coastal Plan, violates provisions of state law, and would likely end up in court with the possibility of a judge making Del Mar zoning decisions.
4. CITY HALL
After years of deliberation and citizen involvement, the City Council has approved a new city hall design on the current site where the previous buildings have now been demolished. Bids for construction of the new city hall are now being reviewed by the city and construction is projected to begin in mid-September. A Del Mar homeowner is suing the city to block the new city hall alleging a flawed environmental report.
5. AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Del Mar was certified in 2013 by the state to implement the Housing Element in the Community Plan which contains 55 specific actions to produce new units at all levels of affordability. To date not one affordable unit has been produced, nor have any been produced in the last 13 years according to SANDAG reports - the only city in the county with zero production. The Del Mar Housing Corporation has urged the Council to establish a $2 million capital reserve fund as well as other actions to trigger concrete action.
6. CLIMATE ACTION PLAN
Del Mar’s Sustainability Advisory Board will soon recommend implementation actions to reduce greenhouse gases that our community chose as priorities at its September 2015 Workshop.
7. SEA LEVEL RISE
The Sea Level Rise committee will soon recommend adaptation strategies for City Council action in anticipation of significant future sea rise challenges.
8. LAW ENFORCEMENT
Several reports from consultant analyses and Finance Committee conclude that our Sheriff contract costs are rising and expected service improvements have not been produced. These analyses included alternative approaches, including a possible new community police department. The community and City Council will be asked to assess strategies and alternatives and make important decisions.
9. GUN SAFETY
A grass roots group is urging the city to ask the Fair Board to terminate or not renew the contract for the “Del Mar Gun Shows.”
10. DESIGN REVIEW
The Del Mar Ad Hoc Development Review Process Citizen’s Advisory Committee is tasked with identifying the concerns related to community impacts of new and remodeled homes. The Committee is identifying possible improvements in the Design Review Ordinance, processes, and criteria for DRB decision making. Their recommendations will be reviewed by the community and the City Council.
Our small city has achieved much over the decades of its existence with energetic community involvement and strong City Council leadership. The challenges we now face will shape our future for a long time to come. Nothing is more important than choosing wise City Council leaders to help us move ourselves into the next decade.