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Don Mosier | Rimini Road

Source City of Del Mar.
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On August 6th the City Council voted to place the Initiative Petition “Amending Development Regulations for Beachfront Properties” on the November ballot to decide if the westerly property line of many beach front residences are defined by Mean High Tide or the Shoreline Protection Area (SPA) line. The SPA was adopted by the voters in 1988 to regulate uses on the beach such as seawalls and emergency structures while protecting public access. The petition asks that the SPA be used as the property line. The illustration below shows these two lines that define the western edge of beachfront properties, for instance, for the Sandy Lane area just south of the San Dieguito River mouth.

For beachfront properties between 18th and 29th Street, the western property lines and the SPA line are the same, and these lots would not be affected by the proposed initiative language. However, 15 properties north of 29th Street would see their buildable property area reduced by up to 50% if the initiative passes because the allowable floor area ratio (FAR) would be calculated using the SPA line as the western property boundary rather than the mean high tide line specified in the property title. This is because the historic mean high tide line is much further west than the SPA line. If FAR is calculated excluding any area west of the SPA line, the impact would be that any new or greater than 50% remodeled home would be substantially smaller than the current residences. Other impacted properties include 4 in the North Beach R1-40 zone, and 5 properties south of 18th Street including the Del Mar Hotel, and the Poseidon and Jakes restaurants.

The report to City Council that preceded the vote to place the initiative on the ballot listed several legal and planning concerns including taking of private property, unequal treatment of development rights, unintentional creation of non-conforming properties, impacts on properties not located on the beachfront, and potential loss of revenues from reduced property taxes. While the council discussed the issue of asking a judge for mandatory relief because of concerns about the legality of the initiative, the final decision was to let the citizens of Del Mar debate and decide the issue. All four council members present (Ellie Haviland was absent) expressed their opposition to the measure, but the California Election Code offered few choices but to place the initiative on the ballot once 313 registered Del Mar voters were confirmed to have signed the petition.


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