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Bully’s Pole Vaulting
Art Olson | Avenida Primavera

Bully's with story poles in pink.  Photo Art Olson.
Click to enlarge.

On October 25, the Hillstone Restaurant Project, provisionally named “R+D Kitchen,” went before the Design Review Board, proposing to demolish and replace Bully’s restaurant and be the first major commercial development in Del Mar’s downtown in over 30 years. Unfortunately, story poles got in the way. On the day of the scheduled meeting it was discovered that the poles had been set incorrectly, shifted by a few feet from their correct placement. While the DRB members decided that they could not make a complete determination and decision on the project without the proper placement, they did go ahead with the hearing, taking the planning staff report, applicant presentation and public comment from a number of citizens and business owners.

Prior to the DRB meeting, the City had completed the Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) document under the supervision of Planner Evan Langan. The document was made available for public comment during the period from September 13 to October 13.

The 583-page MND document contained a description of the Hillstone Project; a study covering 19 aspects of the project with assessment of any potential environmental impacts; and a listing of mitigation measures that would reduce any potential impacts to “less than significant.” The project described entails construction of a single-story restaurant comprising 5,219 square feet of floor area. The new structure would be podium-mounted with one level of surface parking and two additional fully subterranean levels yielding a total of 82 parking spaces.

Comments on the MND had been received from neighbors on Stratford Court whose homes border on the alleyway that would provide the only vehicular access both during construction and for parking and supply delivery for the functioning restaurant. While neighbors were in favor of revitalization of the Bully’s site, they expressed concerns regarding impacts that the construction and operation of the restaurant would have on traffic, pedestrian activity and noise to their homes and surroundings. Many of these same concerns were subsequently voiced at the DRB hearing where additional comments were made by neighboring commercial property and business owners who also liked the prospect for downtown revitalization. However, they expressed concerns mostly focusing on the impacts that the construction traffic, noise and vibrations would have on nearby businesses, especially those that require a calm, noise-free ambience, such as legal and therapeutic activities. Business owners were also united in requesting that story poles be absent during the period of the Breeders’ Cup events.

The DRB members reiterated many of the concerns and discussed possible additional mitigating measures, some of which would need to be operational procedures relating to construction and restaurant functions that would impose rules for vehicular travel within and around the site. One potential mitigation suggested was the creation of a loading zone on Camino Del Mar for supply delivery to the new restaurant and other nearby businesses. Other DRB concerns were cited such as potential blockage of public views, outdoor lighting and use of the western garden area and pedestrian passage through to the alleyway from the restaurant. A suggestion was made for allowing some of the restaurant parking spaces for shared public use, but the potential impact of increased traffic in the alleyway countered the idea.

Because of the wrongly placed story poles, inability for complete deliberation dictated that the hearing be continued to the next DRB meeting on November 16. In the meantime, the Hillstone group could formulate additional responses to the concerns raised. To accommodate the request to defer setting new story poles until after the Breeder’s Cup events, the DRB waived the rule that poles be placed at least 15 days prior to their next meeting. We will see if there are any more hurdles after the pole vault is accomplished.



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