I attended the Del Mar Community Conversations meeting this past weekend to learn about the City Council’s plan to revitalize downtown. I commend Mayor Mosier and Councilwoman Haydu for taking time on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to meet with local residents. I heard many good ideas on how to revitalize downtown. Creating more pedestrian-friendly sidewalks makes a lot of sense and should be pursed sooner rather than later. Allowing new building with reduced setbacks and higher floor area ratios could potentially lead to redevelopment and new businesses without negatively impacting the village character of Del Mar. Mixed residential/commercial buildings also has merit.
However, there is one aspect of the revitalization plan that does not make any sense. Changing zoning to allow new buildings on the west side of Camino Del Mar to exceed 14 feet at street level would severely impact the quality of life in Del Mar. It would block ocean views, restrict sunlight and create a tunnel feeling in downtown.
Yes, there are already some buildings that exceed this height, but this is not a reason to add more as Mayor Mosier suggested in the meeting. This restriction has been a cornerstone of the Community Plan since the 1980s and has served Del Mar well. Now is not the time to change it. Many at the meeting agreed.
I hope the City Council is listening. The Community Conversation at times seemed more like a sales job for a plan that has already been set in stone. At this stage, they need to be flexible and willing to revise the plan based on input from community.