Frank Chisari favors a “Bottom-Up” approach to revitalization, and cites the 1975 Community Plan in support of that concept. [“Why I can’t vote for the Del Mar Village Specific Plan,” Del Mar Times, Sept. 20, 2012, page 18.] By contrast, he characterizes the Village Specific Plan (Prop J) as “Top-Down,” charging that the City devised the VSP in response to desires of commercial property owners. Before thinking about what his “Bottom-Up” approach might look like, it’s worth studying the VSP and the Community Plan in a bit more detail.
Thanks, in particular, to the Herculean efforts of Planning Director Kathy Garcia, the city did its utmost to incorporate “Bottom-Up” elements into the VSP. The problem was that many of the potential “Bottoms” decided early on that they would prefer to attack the VSP, rather than throw their weight behind a “Bottom-Up” version.
In 1975, there was no shortage of “Bottoms” among the working groups that created the Community Plan, but without the “Top-Down” leadership of Dave Keeling, it’s problematic whether the Plan that we now take for granted would have materialized. A successful plan requires both “Tops” and “Bottoms.”
Dr. Chisari recommends that the City Council “create committees of citizen volunteers,” but where would those volunteers come from? Very few stepped forward to participate in the VSP process; what has happened since then to motivate a bunch of residents to tackle the thorny issues of revitalization?
And where will the money come from to provide the staff time that will be necessary to convert volunteer thoughts into the legal prose needed for land-use regulations? Don’t forget that the City staff has just been through this exercise with the VSP. How often can the revitalization movement go to the well on this? And who is going to pay for it?
Those of us who have been working on revitalization for over a decade now, are well aware that if it were a simple issue, it would have been resolved by now. The number of moving parts is not going to decrease, and neither will the different competing interests.
If the residents of Del Mar believe that revitalization is a good idea, they will vote for Prop J. If they want to stick with an increasingly dysfunctional status quo, they’ll follow Dr. Chisari’s example.