The residents of Del Mar have invested energy, time and money to defeat Proposition J. The City Council has invested money, City funds, to win. It appears we did not win because the Council has brought it back after cutting the number of residential units and attempting to get voter agreement by compromise.
The Council was warned in advance that if Prop J passed, we would, in fact, be ceding control over development in our City to developers. It was explained to them that the new State law that was passed in 2008, Government Code Section 65915-65918, allows developers to increase the density of commercial and residential development over the caps in our local zoning limits if they build any residential units in the downtown commercial zone of moderate, low and very low income housing units.
Measure B becomes a moot point the minute the downtown zoning is changed from Commercial to Commercial/Residential. The council must then allow a zoning change the developers are waiting for in order to offer to build low cost housing that, at which point the State Law states, a City cannot refuse. Developers cannot get past Measure B and our General Plan without the zone change. This is why no housing should be allowed in our commercial zone. None.
The City Council appears to be trying to bypass the Proposition J vote and destroy Measure B. It is not fair, but it also is not against the law.
For the time being, our only recourse is to object strenuously by attending the Jan. 2 Planning Commission meeting. As one objector to the new plan to reduce the number of residential units said, “I no longer trust this Council.” This Council is not obviously concerned with residential concerns. We passed Measure B in the 1980s to protect our control of land use in our town because of the heavy pressure to allow overdevelopment for the past 33 years in this small City that we’ve had to work rapidly to defeat. Since Proposition J was defeated, we thought we were safe and able to prevent the dismantling of Measure B.
The Council has come back, along with the Planning Committee, with a pretend compromise to build only 20 residential units downtown. One resident fell for the compromise by announcing he thought there would be nothing wrong with only four housing units being built in the commercial zone. This compromise is a ruse. We cannot have even one or two built downtown or risk losing Measure B.
I was told by a resident in Encinitas that we are lucky to have measure B in Del Mar to protect us. The residents of Encinitas objected to residential units being built in their downtown but had no Measure B. Their Council moved ahead with building the new Whole Foods market with the housing units above. Residents did not want additional housing units built in the commercial zone and removed the members from office in the last election. The new Council in Encinitas is working to develop a vote by residents to prevent further downtown over-development.
Let’s not throw away our protection by approving a second attempt to bypass the election results and dismiss our 1976 General Plan and Measure B. We are at a distinct crossroad, let’s not give in to a Council that has their own agenda. All we were asked to do is to report what we liked about the Specific Plan and didn’t like about the plan. This was an absurd attempt to develop the Specific Plan without input from the voters and property owners. Of course, the Del Mar Village Association was enthusiastic about the Specific Plan. It promised them increased profits. They did not want to hear from residents who had refused overdevelopment repeatedly in the past 50 years since becoming incorporated.
We now have been warned by our own City Attorney that we had better move quickly and get our low cost housing plan sent in to the State because the State is like a lion ready to pounce [on us]. Apparently our last two councils have been told many times to submit a valid plan for low cost housing. Our last two councils did not come up with an adequate plan other than second units on residential property that would change individual deeds promising low cost housing on our properties that bars family members.
The same people who have caused the delay are again insisting that we do not have to hurry. “We can delay for as long as it takes,” they declare.
Think about it. If we continue to delay, we have been warned that the State, by way of the Housing Commission, will order to reinstate Proposition J that we defeated assuming it was the same old delay tactic. This is a warning that we had better take seriously. We must insist 1) no downtown residential units, and 2) no delay. Move quickly and get this taken care of immediately. Any excuse that it was the Council that failed, not the residents, will not fly.
Send an e-mail immediately to Adam Birnbaum, planning department, requesting the above 1) and 2) if you agree. Ask him in your e-mail to deliver to each City Council member and each Planning Commissioner. Or, better yet, come to the Planning Commission meeting and speak against 1) and 2). Their decision will be passed to the City Council and they will forward to the State. This must be prevented. It is the only way.
Address your e-mails to Adam Birnbaum at Planning@delmar.ca.us or visit the city web site at www.delmar.ca.us