In 1976 I, along with many other residents, worked on the Del Mar Community Plan. Our goal was to create a vibrant, economically viable village center to better serve residents and visitors alike in a walkable pedestrian atmosphere that preserved the unique charm and character of Del Mar. Many envisioned a delightful village with widened sidewalks, beautiful land and streetscape with sidewalk cafes, view points and places to gather with friends as the social and cultural center of the community, reminiscent in character to some of the great small villages in Europe.
Instead, what remains after 36 years from 15th Street south to the existing city hall, with some exceptions, are old, unattractive decaying buildings, shops and businesses that are barely surviving and upgrades to properties are not economically feasible due to existing Del Mar codes. Del Mar can be better, change is needed.
The Village Specific Plan can achieve the goals desired by the community for over the past 36 years. The City Council and planning staff have been sensitive to residents’ input with over 90 community meetings. The VSP has been carefully designed with checks, balances and safeguards, plus the planning commission and design review board to monitor all projects and modify the 30-year plan at any time if warranted.
As I hear opponents that fear change, I am reminded of those who claimed the L’Auberge would create massive traffic problems and destroy our village. Neither, of course, occurred. The L’Auberge has been a source of pride for the community and a gathering place for residents and their guests.
The L’Auberge provides the city revenue approaching $1 million each year in room, property and sales taxes — or in the range of $15 million to date. Which, needless to say, has been of enormous benefit to the city for residents’ services. Plus the L’Auberge has provided a park on the prime corner for community local events, such as the annual Christmas tree party for the community or the Peter Sprague concerts at New Year’s Eve and an Easter egg hunt for kids. The L’Auberge also provided $500,000, making it possible to secure the Del Mar Library and provide 60 public parking spaces for the village. These are just some of the benefits that the residents and the village would not have today if we, as a community, had listened to those who had fear of change.
The Village Specific Plan can finally make it possible to achieve the charming, vibrant, pedestrian-friendly village we have all desired.