By Claire Harlin
Increasing bulk and mass and changing the character of Del Mar Village were among citizen concerns presented June 18 in a report to the Del Mar City Council summarizing the results of a public comment period on the city’s proposed revitalization plan. After hearing a number residents’ feedback, a mixture of positive and negative, the City Council spent approximately three hours providing direction to city staff on each area of concern presented.
The draft Village Specific Plan, released in March, will serve as a guide for future land use and development in Del Mar if it passes the November election. It could also change the face of downtown by increasing building height, adding roundabouts and implementing shared parking plus a parking structure, among many other changes.
Planning and community development director Kathy Garcia said there were comments received in regard to mass, which stem from the city’s proposal to increase the maximum floor area of buildings from 280,000 square feet to 600,000 square feet, in addition to more than doubling floor-area ratio (FAR). The council supports an increase in FAR to 1.0.
Councilman Don Mosier said it may be a good idea to start off with a 500,000-square- foot target and then reevaluate the cap after a decade.
Deputy Mayor Terry Sinnott said a sequential approach or a staged implementation may be desirable, and that 600,000 square feet seems like an appropriate 30-year target.
Nearly all 70 comments from the 45-day pubic comment period were in support of the city’s revitalization efforts, but with some suggesting the development parameters should be scaled back. There were also comments that there should be more incentives and development opportunities for small restaurants and cafes, but with the caveat that adequate parking is critical, according to a city staff report.
Other comments related to the building of residential units and the concern that too many (and too big) dwelling units may be difficult to lease or sell. There was also concern expressed regarding noise impacts of public outdoor dining on nearby residents.
Several residents also expressed concern that raising the height limit on the west side of Camino Del Mar would result in buildings looming over neighboring residences.
When it comes to incentives for parking, the council directed staff to gives little if no incentive for surface parking, as opposed to the preferred structured parking. The council also discussed incentives for publicly accessible plazas and sustainable building design. Councilmembers supported awarding developments that are LEED platinum.
The Del Mar Planning Commission is scheduled to make its formal recommendation on the Village Specific Plan at its July 12 meeting. In preliminary comments, the commissioners were split on the proposed additional four-foot height allowance for roof articulation (meant to add character).
The City Council will vote on the Village Specific Plan at its Aug. 6 meeting, and the plan will then go to public vote in November.
For more information, visit www.delmar.ca.us and click on “Village Specific Plan” on the right column.