Ann Gardner | Via Latina
“Leaving no stone unturned” was what came to mind while listening to City Council discuss our 2021-2029 Housing Element update with our consultants at the January 13 Council meeting. As they presented their preliminary findings, the two Kimley-Horn consultants came across as determined explorers, walking potential sites for more housing units and finding acreage on maps doesn’t always mean buildable lots, e.g. steep slopes. The Housing Element is a State-mandated policy that requires all jurisdictions to plan for meeting California’s housing shortage and particularly so households can live near work, or public transportation to work, thereby reducing green house gas emissions.
This has not been easy in an almost-built-out Del Mar with expensive coastal property, but there seemed to be a new optimism expressed by Council members and some suggestions. Councilmember Druker suggested….but wait the consultants and Council members want your ideas first. The Council voted to initiate ways to get input from the community beginning with appointing a Citizen’s Task Force and holding a community workshop on Saturday, February 29, 9:30 a.m. at Town Hall. This will be followed by a second public workshop and City Council and Planning Commission sessions all scheduled to get as much public input and as many ideas as possible on how to meet our updated goals. An online website and survey tool will allow residents to get regular updates, make suggestions and respond to ideas as the process of putting together Del Mar’s 2021-2029 Housing Element required by the State by October.
Today Del Mar is in the last year of its 2013-2021 Housing Element when the City identified ways to encourage the building of 76 more housing units which the City is implementing by: obtaining Covenants on approved and proposed Specific Plan Projects including the 941 Camino del Mar and Watermark mixed use projects in the Commercial Zone, and the Marisol project for visitor accommodations on the North Bluff to include affordable housing; changing zoning to allow more residential use on commercial properties as proposed for commercial properties adjacent to the Jimmy Durante/San Dieguito round about and between 8th and 9th on Camino del Mar; and partnering with the Fairgrounds to provide affordable housing.
The next, or sixth, Housing Element raises the estimated growth need from 76 to 163. An updated Element is now required to “implement … programs to meet existing and projected housing needs for all income levels…while preserving existing housing stock and assisting the existing population.” According to staff the City is only required to demonstrate the ability to accommodate additional growth, “not required to build dwelling units…only to identify potential sites … (allowing) the market the opportunity to develop these units.” Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are also expected to be a larger part of the picture due to new State laws promoting ADUs in the more restricted residential zones.
Residents are urged by the Council to attend the first public workshop on February 29th to hear and give input on some preliminary ideas from the consultants and explore additional solutions “through production of the availability of properly zoned land that can accommodate additional growth.” Additional information and updates will continue to be published on the City’s Housing element webpage at www.delmar.ca.us/HousingElement.