By Claire Harlin
The Del Mar City Council on March 18 voted to hold a public protest hearing on May 20 regarding the city’s intention to sell a vacant, sloping parcel on Hidden Pines Road that was formerly used as a water pump site. The issue arose after an adjacent property owner approached city officials with a desire to buy the 3,170-square-foot plot.
While neighbor and 24-year resident Gary Burke called the sale unnecessary and contended that the property, which slopes 40 feet from north to south, provides a safe exit from his lot in the case of emergency, city officials leaned toward the sale, citing that the lot provides little use to the city.
Councilman Don Mosier said developing the property would be an expensive undertaking due its steep grade.
“The city’s not using it, and I can’t imagine it as a pocket park or anything that would serve the community,” he said.
The council did, however, support the suggestion by another neighbor, Clive Freeman, to move the public hearing from the proposed April 15 to a later date.
“We are moving a little too fast,” said Councilman Al Corti prior to the council’s vote to set the hearing for May 20. “The public may have issues with the selling of the property in general.”
Del Mar Planning and Community Development Director Kathy Garcia said there is no direction in city documents such as the master plan regarding future goals for the city-owned site, which is zoned for a single-family residential development.
Mayor Terry Sinnott said that if the city eventually follows through a sale, he’d like the funding to be designated for a specific future project rather than going into the general capital improvement fund. The city is continuing with a preliminary title report and appraisal, the completion of which is estimated to cost $3,400.
The protest hearing will be held, in conjunction with the regular council meeting, at the Del Mar Communications Center, located at 240 10th St.