Sunset decision delayed

Council to decide on undergrounding later this month

With three out of the four available Del Mar City Council members living in or around the Sunset undergrounding district, the governing body moved to continue a decision on the measure to the Feb. 22 meeting when Councilman Carl Hilliard would return from vacation.

City Attorney Leslie Devaney “strongly” advised the council to delay on this because a voter could argue that a partial council manipulated the outcome. A rule of necessity did not apply because Hilliard was “simply unavailable.”

The Sunset and North Hills undergrounding projects propose to move the utility power lines below ground. Property owners would be required to pay the cost, at several thousand dollars, through bonds or as a lump sum.

Proponents say it would increase property values and eliminate safety hazards with falling power lines in storms. Many opponents are living on a fixed income and say this is too much money to spend in this economy.

A large, but noticeably smaller group, of people returned to the Del Mar TV studio just one week after the council approved the North Hills undergrounding district for a ballot measure.

“I’d guess that people thought we’d come to the same conclusions, however, we do want to hear individuals de novo and when they say something that’s compelling that might change our mind we might change it,” said Mayor Richard Earnest. “But it would be bizarre for us to say we’re going to do one undergrounding district and not the other one without some compelling geographical or economic reason.”

Superhero coming to town

The Marvel comic book hero Thor may soon have some powerful new sidekicks: The Del Mar City Council.

Paramount Pictures will enter into negotiations with Del Mar to film a beach scene for its new movie “Thor,” set for release in 2011. Paramount wants to use a 300-yard stretch of Del Mar beach for a scene involving six horses running down the terrain.

“I look forward to seeing our shining sea on the big screen with Thor thundering by on his great steed,” Earnest said. “I think that’s going to be fun.”

According to a city staff report, Paramount says this coastline is ideal because its gradual slope of sand down to the waterline creates excellent reflection opportunities on film.

The city foresees a “very positive” economic impact from the production, but has no basis for negotiating with major motion picture studios. It will work with Paramount to come up with a deal for filming, scheduled preliminarily for April 29. “Thor” will star Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson and Renee Russo. Chris Hemsworth, who played Capt. Kirk in the recently released “Star Trek” film, will play the role of Thor.

Short-term rental tax moves forward

The City Council unanimously approved placing a proposal on the June 8 ballot to apply its 11.5 percent transient occupancy tax to short-term vacation rentals.

Del Mar currently imposes the tax on hotels and time shares, but San Diego and other coastal cities such as Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside enforce it on short-term vacation rentals as well.

A recent staff report projects more than $1.3 million gained in TOT this year, but that is still $300,000 less than originally predicted. It is estimated the new tax could produce about $181,000 for the city. Opponents say the tax would take away from local businesses that tourists often use and that it will cost the city more to enforce and administer than it would produce in revenue.

Related posts:

  1. Decision on Del Mar Union district changes delayed
  2. Trails decision delayed again
  3. Powerlink decision delayed until November
  4. We have a dilemma in the Sunset District
  5. City heightens efforts to tax some rentals

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