Mayor Ellie Haviland and Councilmember Dwight Worden
The Community Relations Committee (CRC) of the Del Mar Fairgrounds meets with Councilmembers and staff from Del Mar and Solana Beach each month to discuss issues of mutual interest such as housing options at the Fairgrounds. For many years the City of Del Mar has been evaluating options for permanent affordable housing at the fairgrounds. The fair board did send a letter to the City of Del Mar in 2013 agreeing to collaborate on siting affordable housing there, but there is a new urgency to develop a more specific plan with a realistic timeline as part of the next Housing Element. Affordable housing could benefit low wage fairgrounds employees as well as provide options for housing veterans who find employment after graduating from the transitional housing programs. There are several federal and state programs that could help fund these efforts, and there are some indications that Del Mar and Solana Beach could receive credit for affordable units even if they are located within the city limits of San Diego.
More recently the CRC has had a discussion of temporary modular housing for homeless veterans on property owned by the fairgrounds. This possibility was based on a proposal brought to fairgrounds staff by Fixx and Ballard Logistics in May. They offered modular units for single or family occupancy with bathrooms but without full kitchens. Meals would be provided in a separate dining facility. Support services for veterans and security would also be provided, a “full, wraparound” operation. Fairgrounds staff is evaluating current facilities operated by Fixx as well as alternative suppliers of homeless housing. It is unlikely that these transitional housing modules would count as affordable housing. According to Fairgrounds staff, that issue is still under discussion at the state Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) as the number of homeless in California continues to increase as the economy suffers because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
So far it’s still at a preliminary concept stage and we have a long list of questions about this proposal with very few answers about even basic details such as the number of units proposed, the location, the timing, how such a project would be managed, its financing, and what the review and approval process might be. Community input into the project is critical and we encourage the Fair Board to start that process as soon as possible.
The financial stress faced by the fairgrounds has led it to consider all potential sources of revenue, including ground leases for modular housing and rental income for affordable units. Stay tuned to see how these fairground proposals fare.