“Hold the powder.”
That’s the message Del Mar Mayor Dwight Worden communicated Monday, Aug. 27, at a public presentation on a proposed hotel and condominium resort targeted for a blufftop in the city’s far northwestern reach.
In other words, Worden was saying, there’s no need to figuratively blow up the proposed Del Mar Resort project before it goes through the necessary studies and hearings.
“The likelihood that this project isn’t going to change is pretty small,” Worden said. “We want to give the proponents a chance to hear the feedback and process that.”
Feedback gathered in interviews from a few of several hundred area residents who attended Del Mar’s second Citizens Participation Program session on the project tended to be negative.
The event at Del Mar Civic Center’s Town Hall enabled attendees to view videos, absorb informational exhibits and interact with development representatives.
Contrary to the expectations of many in the crowd, the proceeding did not provide a forum for expressing public viewpoints, so there was no way to gauge how many were pro or con.
The Del Mar Resort Specific Plan calls for the installation of 271 hotel rooms, 76 villa-styled condominium units, three restaurants, a conference center and 705 parking spaces, among other features, on 16.5 acres at Camino Del Mar and Border Avenue.
According to information supplied Monday, 72 percent of the property would remain open space and there would be 1.5 miles of trails.
The land has been mostly vacant over the last 50 years. It escaped development despite being perched on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and shoreline, and across the street from the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Racetrack.
Debbie Hecht, a resident of the beachfront development, The Colony, south of the project site, is leading the No to Del Mar Resort Re-Zoning campaign. She circulated among visitors at Monday’s event and asked them to sign a petition against the zone modifications required for the project.
“We’re pretty adamantly opposed,” she said.
Because of the site’s locale abutting Solana Beach directly north, the project, with maximum building heights reaching 46 feet from the ground, would inevitably block some ocean views from homes on the Solana Beach side and vehicle access to the site would come from Border Avenue.
“All the (economic) benefits go to the city of Del Mar and all the impacts go to Solana Beach,” said J.B. Alberts of Solana Beach. “There are huge negative impacts and they’re all in Solana Beach.”
Solana Beach resident Brian Feingold, who lives on Marsolan Avenue, said ocean views from his home would be completely blocked. He has organized a campaign titled Save the Bluff that is distributing a petition opposing the project.
“It’s essentially going to be a mega-resort,” Feingold said. “The main thing is it’s going to destroy the beach down there. It’s going to destroy the bluff. It’s going to destroy life as we know it, both in Solana Beach and Del Mar.”
Some residents have called for a public vote over the project, but just what such a measure would address and how it would be structured are unknown.
The specific plan, however, is at least a year and a half and several stages away from ultimate approval.
Technically in the design stage, the plan is undergoing environmental and economic analyses. The public review period for the draft environmental impact report is targeted to begin in November. Hearings by the city’s Design Review Board could begin in February, followed by the Planning Commission in March and the City Council in July.
After that, the project would have to go to the California Coastal Commission because the locale is within the state coastal zone under the commission’s overview.
“We’re certainly addressing all the issues,” said Chief Operating Officer Chris Beucler of Zephyr Partners, which is teaming with The Robert Green Co., to develop the project. “I’m sure there will be changes, but I don’t know to what extent.”