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.