Del Mar makes form-based code a priority

Council aims to get item on November ballot

The Del Mar City Council would like nothing more this year than to make progress on revitalizing downtown.

To do this, the city will push to get its form-based code on the November ballot. If passed, it would apply zoning restrictions that are conducive to increasing the amount of retail stores on the main drag.

In a special meeting last Friday, council members chose to invest more resources into this project than others they also deem important for the city to prosper economically.

“That is a cornerstone piece of revitalizing the downtown, which is desperately needed. Not just economically but from a community plans standpoint. The downtown is hurting,” Mayor Richard Earnest said of the form-based code.

The question now is how the city will come up with the $125,000 necessary for the code’s environmental impact report. While the project does not call for any actual construction, it was explained at the meeting that this document could be a means of protection if the city should get sued for any permitted development.

“It is a dramatic enough change in the city that we could be subject to legal challenge,” Earnest said, adding he was not sure he was satisfied with this reasoning. “And without an EIR that says there aren’t traffic impacts, there aren’t environmental impacts of various kinds, then our status in court on the legal challenge is much weaker.”

In the meantime, the city will continue educating residents on the form-based code and its implications for the downtown district and its tenants.

The council decided to delay until February any decisions on the pilot program, which would restripe the southbound side of Camino del Mar to one lane from 15th to 12th Street. This experimental project would create angle-in parking to encourage more foot traffic for retailers.

Finally, Del Mar will take steps to come up with a request for proposal for a new city hall. Earnest said, however, that the city might not be able to create a realistic plan until a form-based code is adopted. Otherwise, it may not fit with the rest of the endorsed downtown regulations.

The goal would be for the new administrative building to be an anchor point on the south end of Camino del Mar, with the Plaza serving the same purpose on the north. Retail shops and restaurants in between would complete the renovated district.

Related posts:

  1. Looking at the past for our future
  2. Implementing the community plan
  3. Dialing 1 for 760 area code to be required
  4. Downtown revitalization update
  5. Decision will affect future downtown development

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