Del Mar prioritizes, reviews $6.1 million in upcoming projects

By Claire Harlin

With a few minor changes, the Del Mar City Council on Feb. 25 approved a city list of about 35 projects totaling about $6.1 million to be funded over the next five years, with parking management, new water meters, sidewalks and water master-planning being among the most budgeted and highest priorities. After departmental reviews, the proposed document will be distributed and reviewed by the finance committee in April, with workshops in May and adoption in June.

Ninety projects were reviewed by city staff, with about 25 being deferred and 30 listed as unfunded in addition to those approved. In a separate list, councilmembers also identified their overall must-dos by ranking them and averaging the results. Top priorities were streetscape projects, construction of the North Torrey Pines Bridge and the city’s housing element, which is underway, with feedback expected from the state in March and City Council adoption anticipated in April. Almost all the street projects the city has planned for the next seven years have a sidewalk element, said City Manager Scott Huth.

The council made a few changes to the list of projects brought forth by the city.

One particular item that was left off the funding schedule — a fence replacement along the bluff north of Sea Cliff Park — caused a stir with the council, especially Councilman Al Corti, who said that made him question the entire budgeting process. He said the fence, which he has observed on visits to that area, is falling down and presents a safety issue.

“That’s immediate maintenance that we should be jumping on top of instead of having a discussion about,” Corti said.

Mosier agreed that the fence is a liability to the city, and said he thinks it is more important than a land surveying project the city had proposed at $25,000. Huth said the surveying is important in that “we don’t have a well mapped out inventory of property” in the city.

Del Mar Mayor Terry Sinnott also suggested the addition of an additional item, the removal of the maintenance building on the city-owned Del Mar Shores property.

“It presents a safety issue,” said Sinnott. “I’m worried about it.”

Huth agreed that it costs money to keep it there, and the city is looking to find the money to get the structure off of the property.

Creating a Shores property master plan is also a top priority for the council, and Corti brought up the idea of rolling that initiative together with the master planning of the City Hall property, which has also been prioritized. But he acknowledged the warning of Jacqueline Winterer, who said nothing gets done when the city bites off more than it can chew.

Sinnott also suggested that the city move a governance related to the fairgrounds up on the list of priorities, making it a must-do. The item relates to ongoing discussions of creating a new governance model for the fairgrounds, which would likely include more local input from surrounding cities.

“Not only is it important, but it’s urgent,” Sinnott said.

He also said that the creation of a downtown parking management plan, which is listed as a “must-do” is very related to residential parking issues, so planning should involve both those aspects of the city’s parking at the same time.

One of the most expensive proposed projects on the list is the retrofitting of the city’s water meters to implement new meter-reading technology. Estimated at $850,000, the project is in its very preliminary stages and the city is currently talking to potential firms to work with. Utility under-grounding is also on the to-do list, with the focus being put on a tank at 15th and Crest Road.

The city is projecting a new website redesign to cost about $26,000 over the next two years, but Huth said the project will save the city $9,000 a year so it will be paid off in three years.

Annual street maintenance has been costing between $30,000 and $50,000 but the city is projecting between $62,000 and $73,000 annually over the next five years to implement more sidewalk rehabilitation and management pavement issues, such as potholes.

A water utility master plan is budgeted for $35,000 for the upcoming fiscal year, in addition to a $60,000 rate study, which will help the city set its rates for the next five years.

The Del Mar Shores master plan, which will cost an estimated $75,00 over the next two years, is also a priority and will dictate the redevelopment of the 5.3-acre site, the use of which has been a subject of contention for more than a year.

For a complete list of projects and their descriptions, visit http://www.delmar.ca.us/Government/City%20Council%20Meetings%202013/cc20130225_Item02.pdf. To view the priorities, as ranking by the council, visit http://www.delmar.ca.us/Government/City%20Council%20Meetings%202013/cc20130225_Item03.pdf.

   
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