Del Mar hires consultant to assist with advisory vote on city hall

Del Mar voters could cast a ballot on their choice for a new city hall as early as February.

The Del Mar City Council on Dec. 15 unanimously agreed to hire a consultant to help the city hold an advisory vote. Although not a formal ballot measure, it is more secure than a survey and more cost-effective than a special election, city officials said.

A special election would cost the city $60,000 to $100,000, whereas an advisory vote will cost the city $25,000 — which includes a $20,000 contract with Everyone Counts, and materials. Everyone Counts has also offered to conduct two additional advisory vote elections for $5,000 each.

Voters will choose from three options for a new city hall complex, ranging from a basic city hall to a civic center that could eventually include other amenities such as commercial space. City staff will work with the consultant to craft the questions, which will go back to the council for final approval.

According to staff’s tentative timeline, if the council approves the ballot questions at the Jan. 20 meeting, the ballot materials would be mailed to registered voters two days later. The online voting period would be Feb. 2-13, and votes would be tabulated the following week. With this timeline, the council would discuss the community’s feedback early March.

Ballots will be cast online and voters will need to verify their identities. Hard copies will also be available for those who wish to fill out a paper ballot.

Before the council’s vote, city staff contacted several industry experts, including Everyone Counts, Martin & Chapman, and Simply Votes, as well as the San Diego County Registrar of Voters office.

Continuing to move forward with the city hall planning process, the council also authorized staff to solicit statements of qualifications from prospective design firms. A selection committee will make a short list of the most qualified firms, and only those teams will submit proposals with scopes of works and fee proposals.

Mayor Al Corti and Councilman Don Mosier will serve on the committee, along with a member of the Design Review Board and two members of the public. Corti and Mosier will recommend committee member appointments during the Jan. 5 council meeting.

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