After five community conversations about village revitalization, your elected officials have heard comments from over 100 citizens about what changes are needed to improve Del Mar for residents and visitors alike. This feedback has been very useful in guiding the next stage of the planning process, which will involve coming back to the community with several options for each phase of the revitalization effort.
The objective of revitalization is to implement the Community Plan goals of making Del Mar a pedestrian-friendly, economically viable, and sustainable village. One only needs to stand at the corner of 12th and Camino del Mar and look both north and south to see the poor state of our current sidewalks, as well as unoccupied spaces. Council believes that the goals described in the Community Plan and the goals of the revitalization effort go hand in hand and that we can measure the success of these efforts.
Let me briefly touch on each of these goals. Pedestrian-friendly translates into wider sidewalks that connect all of our downtown, and also establishes pedestrian use as the highest priority for our streetscape design. It includes better pedestrian crossings, better lighting to improve safety at night, and more benches and plantings to make Camino del Mar more attractive and user friendly. When our sidewalks are continuous and ADA compliant and we have more safe pedestrian crossings, then we will have met one of the Community Plan’s goals to create a pedestrian-friendly village. This goal was universally supported in the community conversations.
Economic viability means encouraging more activity at existing businesses and making development of new business activities more likely. A more attractive downtown with wider, continuous sidewalks is one step in this process. We want to be positioned to attract new, resident-serving businesses as the economic recovery continues. Changes in parking, such as increased use of angled (town and country) parking, and addition of a parking structure at the south end of downtown, would increase our parking capacity and minimize impacts to adjacent residential areas. Mixed use housing with second floor apartments or condominiums would add new residents to support the businesses we hope to attract, and would add to the vitality of our business district. Appropriate zoning regulations that encourage investment in the downtown will be measurable as we see property owners redeveloping and improving their properties. These ideas were generally supported in our community conversations, but there were some concerns that we will need to take into account as the process moves forward.
Sustainability means reducing our impact on the environment. Pedestrian-friendly sidewalks should lead to walking rather than driving, or parking once and walking to restaurants and shops. Cars are our primary source of greenhouse gas emissions, and we need to reduce through traffic while encouraging visitors who want to dine and shop in Del Mar. New construction can be much more energy efficient than our existing buildings, and mixed use of new buildings decreases the building footprint for each activity. We heard support for mixed use development as long as view corridors and privacy of adjacent residences were protected, and these valid concerns will inform the next stage of planning.
Why revitalize? To achieve a downtown that is more attractive, more walkable, more interesting, more financially stable, and more sensitive to our coastal environment. You can participate in the ongoing conversations about revitalization by e-mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org or going to the “Community Conversations” link on the city’s website.