Dolores Davies | Crest Road
At its October 24th meeting, the City’s Ad Hoc Design Review Process Citizen’s Advisory (“Ad Hoc”) Committee voted unanimously to finalize and endorse the draft set of Design Guidelines prepared by consultant RRM Design Group. After the final draft is produced by RRM, it will be forwarded to the City Council for its review and action, tentatively scheduled for its November 6 meeting.
More than 40 public hearings have been held to vet and discuss many of the issues addressed in the Design Guidelines, with feedback received from a broad swath of stakeholders and City advisory committees, including the Design Review Board, the Business Support Advisory Committee, and applicants, neighbors, builders, and design professionals.
More than 40 public hearings have been held to vet and discuss the Design Guidelines, with feedback received from a broad swath of stakeholders and City advisory committees, including the Design Review Board, the Business Support Advisory Committee, and applicants, neighbors, builders, and design professionals.
The Ad Hoc Committee and City Planning staff have been working with RRM since they were retained by the City in January 2017, to develop a set of Design Guidelines that would interpret the goals and objectives espoused in Del Mar’s Community Plan and add clarity and definition to the City’s Design Review Ordinance (DRO).
“It’s been a real pleasure working with Del Mar on this important project,” said Scott Martin, one of the RRM Design Group principals who has worked closely with City staff, the Ad Hoc Committee, and members of the community. “While all the Design Guidelines won’t be applicable to every project, they will provide essential guidance to applicants about the distinctive character and identity you all value so much in Del Mar, and how best to design development projects that will reflect that.”
RRM, said Martin, has been involved in producing Design Guidelines for a number of cities and other public and private entities throughout California.
“One of the things that makes Del Mar unique is the topography,” said Martin. “This town has a lot of topography—sandstone formations, canyons, hills—which needs to be considered when building a home. The natural features here so define this paradise you all live in. We want to preserve those elements so there is a section of the Guidelines that focuses on how projects can best be sited to minimize development impacts.”
Prior to the retention of RRM, the Ad Hoc Committee had already held numerous public meetings and workshops to get a better understanding of the key issues and problems that made the design review process seem subjective, opaque and difficult to navigate, for applicants as well as neighbors. The Committee was established in May 2015, and by January 2016, members had heard a voluminous amount of feedback from all stakeholder groups. The Committee catalogued this feedback in a 15-page document, which tracked dozens of comments and concerns relating to DRB practices, the Citizen Participation Program (CPP), the DRO and related ordinances, and zoning code issues.
In addition to working with RRM and City Planning staff on the draft Design Guidelines, the Ad Hoc Committee produced a Resident Handbook to explain and clarify Del Mar’s design review process, and a Good Neighbor Guide to help applicants navigate the process successfully. The Committee also hopes to work with City staff in enhancing the Planning Department web presence by ensuring that the guidelines are accessible and user-friendly online.