By Claire Harlin
While the Del Mar Village Association (DMVA) has for years made itself visible through efforts like event signs on streetlights, decorative lighting during the holidays and pedestrian signs with business listings, the organization will now become a much more prominent pillar in the community with the opening of the Del Mar Community & Visitor Center.
The January opening at 1104 Camino Del Mar, Suite 1, across from City Hall fulfills a longtime dream of the association, said DMVA President Mathew Bergman, adding that he hopes the visual landmark will bring awareness to the DMVA’s efforts, such as the 20 memorial benches that were installed around town in 2012 and the 15 downtown trash and recycling cans that help keep the streets pristine and litter-free.
“The community knows us from events like the tree lighting, the Art Stroll and the Summer Solstice event,” said Bergman, owner of the Del Mar Plaza’s Folio Design. “That’s where we have visibility, but the things we do, people think it’s the city sometimes.”
The DMVA is planning a grand opening celebration on Feb. 21 at the visitor center, which is open on Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with extended hours during the spring and summer. DMVA staff will provide information on hotels, dining, special events and activities in Del Mar at the center, where commemorative products and gifts such as holiday ornaments, wine glasses, license plate frames, water bottles and signature Del Mar surf wax, among other items, will be sold. On display will be Village walking maps, visitors guides, restaurant menus and downtown community and special events information.
Bergman said opening the center would not have been possible if it were not for the idea of former DMVA President Walt Beerle, a former resident, who “knew everyone,” Bergman said.
“He was the vice president at Union Bank and just the salt-of-the-Earth greatest guy you will ever meet,” said Bergman. “It was amazing to see him at community functions talking with everyone. Him being sort of a hub allowed him to understand residents and property owners, and he could put business owners’ desires back into the DMVA and make things happen.”
Bergman said Beerle is not only a symbol of the benefit he hopes the visitor center will provide in Del Mar, but it is especially sentimental to fulfill Beerle’s longtime dream of having a downtown visitor center — a “milestone” for the DMVA, Bergman said.
Bergman said it’s very organic how things get done in the DMVA, with residents sharing concerns with the board and the board making ideas happen.
“We don’t trumpet our success; we just put our heads down and work hard,” said Bergman. “So many people don’t recognize or understand what we are doing but at our board meetings are representatives from every aspect of the community … People on the board really have the community’s well-bring at heart and so many ideas come together in that forum.”
In addition to efforts such as events and beautification, the DMVA is also instrumental in serving as a voice of the business community, bringing issues to the City Council or speaking up on decisions affecting local business. He hopes the new visitor center, in addition to helping guests, will serve as a place where locals can voice their ideas and concerns to the DMVA.
“The visible presence will help us offer a point of contact for the DMVA,” Bergman said, adding that he also encourages residents to get involved by attending monthly board meetings for the non-profit, which is made up of residents and business owners who are dedicated to enhancing the Village while preserving the community’s history and character. Residents interested in volunteering at the new center should call (858) 735-3650, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit