Ann Gardner | Via Latina
|Over 50 speakers from Solana Beach and Del Mar presented feedback on the proposed Del Mar Resort Specific Plan at a joint meeting of the Planning Commission and
Design Review Board. Photo Ann Gardner.
Click to enlarge.
At a joint workshop with the Del Mar Planning Commission and Design Review Board (DRB) on October 17, Del Mar Resort planners said they had been listening during the now almost two years of community input and would come back with a revised plan early next year. Zephyr’s chief operating officer Chris Beucler said the new plan would include bigger setbacks and less bulk. He announced that the story poles at the corner of Camino del Mar and Border Ave, 46 feet high in some areas, would come down.
The current plan first introduced to the community in late 2017 calls for a resort complex on the North Beach bluff that would include a 250-room hotel and 76 private villas, some four stories high, on 16 acres of land currently zoned for Very Low and Modified Low Density Residential. The 16 acres is also adjacent to the iconic North Bluff Reserve, zoned as Public Parkland, above Dog Beach. The staff report explained that the Very Low Density Residential zone “is intended to allow single family development that preserves an open character…within areas that include steep slopes, bluffs and/or canyons.”
The resort project was given permission in June, 2017 to submit a Specific Plan that would allow rezoning the property to Visitor Commercial in exchange for Extraordinary Public Benefits. According to Zephyr those benefits would include “significant” new Transient Occupancy Tax revenue, new public trails and site access and spaces for community events. The joint workshop was scheduled for a “finding of facts” to determine how the proposed project “complies with or violates” land use and design review codes, to identify issues and as a continuation of the Citizen Participation Process which requires significant public input.
Residents from Solana Beach, including three of their Council members, submitted twice as many speaker slips for public input as Del Mar residents, pleading for consideration as good neighbors. That majority input centered on loss of ocean views, intensity of use with accompanying light and traffic pollution, loss of residential seaside ambience and a decline in nearby residential property values. Solana Beach resident Clay Westling cited Del Mar’s Design Review Ordinance sections t0 “protect a residential seaside community” and reject designs that “unreasonably block significant public coastal views, detract from natural beauty of coastal area, (or are) out of scale with other structure.” DRB member John Goodkind echoed the same concern saying that he had found 20 DRB violations in his review of the current plans.
Of the supporters, two Del Mar residents praised the project but on a smaller scale. Jim Watkins emphasized that resort visitors tended to not add to traffic preferring, as an example, to stay on the L’Auberge grounds or walk to town or the beach. Beucler emphasized that the Resort was providing traffic mitigation with free bus passes for employees, on site bicycles and a shuttle. He also stressed that the planners were addressing the issues brought forward, that they are continuing to listen to public input and that the project was a “design in progress.”
Staff emphasized that the joint workshops was by no means the last opportunity for the public to participate in the process, that feedback solicited at the workshop was intended to provide guidance to the applicant for dealing with issues raised. The likely next step is the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Review for public review and comment. The final EIR must be considered by the Planning Commission and certified by City Council.
Since the first Proposed Plan is being revised by Zephyr, check the City website “to stay on top of the latest updates and information.” See “Proposed Del Mar Resort Specific Plan” link found in the lower right hand corner. Matt Bator, Project Planner, encouraged residents to sign up for “Notify Me” available at that link or to contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to a list of interested parties.