Ann Gardner | Via Latina
On February 11 City Council “drew a line” that removes the City’s North Bluff Preserve from the Del Mar Resort Specific Plan. “The Preserve is kind of sacrosanct,” Mayor Druker commented, adding that it was better for the Resort to understand “our” goals for the City owned park property up front and plan the adjacent private property accordingly. As part of the same action, the Council accepted a draft North Bluff Preserve Goals, Policies and Regulatory Standards to guide future use, improvement and maintenance. The action was taken based on staff’s recommendation working closely with the City’s Park and Recreation Committee.
Staff explained that the initial 2017 direction to combine the public and private properties in a single Specific Plan was “given at a time when improvements to the north Bluff Preserve…were being considered.” The Park and Recreation Committee then delved into the history of the property, concerned about the precedent of including parkland owned by the City in a private development plan. Last December the Committee went to Council asking that the Preserve maintain “its own natural identify and be as physically separate from proposed development as possible.”
According to staff the Committee wanted to ensure that the policies and regulations were in strict keeping with the founding intent of the 4.5 acres and the recorded agreement between the City and the former owner of 101 Border Avenue, Helen Woodward. On the 11th City Council accepted the Draft with several additional restrictions presented by Committee representative Claire McGreal. The approved overall goal of policy is to permanently maintain the Preserve “as a natural park, providing for native coastal habitat, protection of coastal bluffs, and a passive recreational opportunity for the public to enjoy scenic coastal view to and from the bluff-top park.”
The policies specifically include: Limiting northern pedestrian access to a single gated entry, regulating irrigation improvements, providing protection from off-site visual lighting and noise impacts associated with proposed development and “development projects proposed adjacent to the Preserve should be carefully designed…in order to protect the natural character of the City’s parkland preserve, including sufficient structural setbacks and natural buffers…to ensure that buildings…adjacent to the Preserve are adequately screened from parkland view and do not adversely impact the natural lighting and noise characteristics of the Preserve.”
The initial Del Mar Resort plan for the 16.5 acres of property adjacent to the Preserve is being redesigned based upon concerns with its height, density and proximity to the parkland. The redesign is expected to be submitted to the City later this month.