Opinion/Letters: Correspondence for the next City Council closed session Hearing regarding 1201 Camino del Mar

Dear City Councilpersons:

This letter is my attempt to provide you pertinent information in order for you to make an informed decision regarding the City’s current dilemma, caused by the City’s refusal to grant use permits for the re-development of 1201 Camino del Mar.

While I am not yet in receipt of all the necessary information from my Public Records Request, I have obtained, from the Internet, information involving: (a) the Plaza Specific Plan and (b) Downtown Parking Survey dated August 18, 2009.

The Plaza Specific Plan states:

“Outdoor dining shall be allowed on terraces associated with a restaurant space provided an equivalent amount of interior restaurant square footage is not used during services of outdoor dining.” It also states “total interior and exterior dining areas shall not exceed 14,400 square feet.”

If you’ve had dinner at the Plaza, then you know that the City does not enforce the above clause. Additionally, the recent development of Smashburger exceeded the Plaza’s maximum restaurant footage, and provides no additional parking for the inside space or the outside food-serving patio, which is located on private property. In fact, Del Mar has never required parking for any outside food-serving deck . . . anywhere in town . . . except at 1201 Camino del Mar.

The City of Del Mar’s Downtown Parking Survey dated August 18, 2009 put the City on notice that 10 of the 26 properties surveyed in the Central Commercial zone south of 13th Street were built or had a major remodel AFTER the 1970 Zoning Ordinance was passed requiring a parking ratio of 1 on-site parking space per 90 square feet. Summaries of these 10 properties are attached; all of which state:

“The building does not appear to be in conformance with current parking standards.”

The City has been aware of these non-conformances since it conducted the survey two and a half years ago, but has taken no action to enforce the parking ordinance against any of those properties. Yet, the City has vigorously enforced the parking ordinance against 1201 Camino del Mar. Why has the City ignored the non-conformance of all these other properties? Faced with an impossible parking ordinance, the City had to do something to re-vitalize the downtown.

But why not include 1201 Camino del Mar in the City’s re-vitalization efforts? 1201 is a key, corner property in the center of the Central Commercial District. Additionally, Del Mar’s General Plan, and the City’s re-vitalization efforts encourage sidewalk seating and ocean-view decks (even to the point that the City leases out the public sidewalk for 24 cents per square foot, with no provision for providing addition parking for all those extra seats). So why did the City sandbag the re-development of 1201 Camino del Mar for all these years? Again, the answer is on the Internet in the City’s Downtown Parking Survey dated August 18, 2009:

“It appears that the existing underground parking (at 1201 Camino del Mar) could possibly be integrated into any future underground parking schemes located to the north of the site, creating a "shared use" parking scenario for the entire block.”

George Conkwright, 1201 Camino del Mar



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