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EDITORIAL: Residential Character

Our Community Plan celebrates our character as a small community with a residential core and small resident-serving businesses. It has guided us over the decades to become a unique and desirable town with a strong base of community values. Our ethic of vigorous citizen participation and careful planning processes are vital requirements for realizing our vision.

To achieve these goals with a population of less than 5,000 we all need to chip in with our energy and voices. We are fortunate to have a highly educated citizenry whose experience, skills and creativity guide us to desirable achievements. Our experience has shown that every issue we tackle is better resolved when we take the time to harvest our rich citizen input.

We have some concerns that our residential core may be shrinking. Are we attracting people to Del Mar because of community values or investment values? Of course, it can be both, but if too many see Del Mar mainly as a business or investment opportunity, we may lose that vital residential perspective that has guided us so well for decades.

The proliferation of short term rental businesses is an obvious trend that eats into our residential core. Successive waves of 3-5 day vacationers contributes little or nothing to building community or devising wise solutions to community problems. In fact, they are too often the source of some of our community problems. Our beach and bluff neighborhoods have experienced a heavier burden but other areas are also negatively impacted. Our City Council is working overtime trying to devise solutions that solve or mitigate the problems, including the best way to stand our ground with respect to reasonable STR rules that accommodate visitors but also protect our small residential neighborhoods, rather than acceding to the Coastal Commission’s proposed modifications that would codify the deleterious effects too many of our neighbors have already experienced.

At the same time we are noticing the increasing number of investor house owners who have their eye on our escalating property values much more than getting involved with community building.

Lets be clear, Del Mar is a very welcoming community. We host literally millions of visitors to our well maintained beaches, our beautiful parks, and the fairgrounds. We tolerate the traffic and noise that comes along with those visitors. But we must be very vigilant not to lose our residential core. As a small community we have learned that a critical mass of involved residents is the only way to preserve our essential character.

We urge residents to encourage our Council to vigorously defend Del Mar’s right to reasonable STR limits that protect our neighborhoods.



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