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DRB Clarity
Dolores Davies | Crest Road

At the Ad Hoc Development Review Process Citizens’ Advisory Committee’s last meeting on May 18, the RRM Design Group presented its second draft of the Design Guidelines for residential development in Del Mar. An initial draft was presented to the Committee and for public comment at its April meeting.

At the May meeting, Jami Williams with RRM first reviewed the project goals for the design guidelines, which include:

• removing subjectivity from the process;
• providing clear expectations for future development;
• helping to interpret the intent of the Community Plan and the Municipal Code;
• allowing new development while maintaining the existing character of Del Mar;
• and providing an easy to use document that will be useful to the public.

In her presentation, Williams noted that the Design Guidelines will include a robust appendix, including a Glossary of Terms pertaining to the DRB process and a checklist. In addition to ensuring that the Guidelines are usable and clear to neighbors, residents, applicants, and architects, it is essential that they work effectively as a helpful complement to the DROs for the DRB.

While the Guidelines reflect substantial feedback from the committee and members of the public, Williams and her RRM colleague identified specific areas of the draft where they felt further refinement and feedback was needed. For example, given Del Mar’s diverse topography, lot sizes, and preferences in different parts of the city, there is a need to call out and identify certain development standards that might pertain to specific areas such as the beach colony and the North Hills area. How is this best accomplished and how should those specific guidelines be highlighted so they can be effectively utilized?
Another area of discussion surrounded the use of photo-graphy vs. illustrations throughout the document. It was expressed that photographs of desirable and undesirable developments are not going to be as helpful to architects or builders as illustrations that signify the optimal approach on a a steep slope, for example, which would help to achieve the desired result. It was agreed that some photos would be helpful, more illustrations were needed. Also the photos included should reflect the type of residential development that might occur in Del Mar, and not development that one would see in Carmel Valley, or some other planned development community.

Discussion also occurred regarding standards that were needed for bluff and canyon areas, and the fact that currently, the city did not have any guidelines outside of the Bluff, Slope and Canyon (BSC) overlay zone, which only applied to specific areas. Members of the committee agreed that elements of the BSC overlay zone that could provide more specificity in terms of desired development approaches on properties abutting bluffs, canyons, and other natural landforms would be very helpful.

Another major topic of discussion related to views, and the need to have more clarity and detail that would define and guide development in situations where existing views could be impacted by development. While many in Del Mar thought exclusively of the ocean when views were discussed, it was noted that non-ocean views that were also deemed desirable, such as trees, sandstone and other natural formations, needed to be addressed. In general, members of the public and the committee agreed that including more specific definitions and drawings depicting what is permitted and discouraged in terms of view encroachment would be very beneficial. It was also noted by RMM that they would attempt to provide a greater level of detail and definition in terms of bulk and mass. While the Design Guidelines are still in the early draft stage, members of the committee and the public expressed that they were pleased with the progress made to date and agreed that the consultant was on the right track. RMM will now work on the next iteration of the guidelines for additional public and committee review and input for a July meeting.



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