City council unanimously approves Streetscape project

The City of Del Mar will move forward with plans to revitalize parts of Camino Del Mar after the city council unanimously voted Sept. 17 to approve the city's entire Downtown Streetscape plan.

The council was in agreement that it's "past time" for the longtime downtown project — which would bring features such as a new roadbed, sidewalks, trees, streetlights, four-way crosswalks, and street art — to be completed. In February, the council approved the Downtown Streetscape Project - Camino Del Mar Streetscape and the scope of work for phase one of the project. The city received bids in March that were significantly higher than the appropriated $1.4 million.

As a result, the city council rejected all intial bids and asked staff to return in September with a plan to implement the full project and cost-saving changes.

At the Sept. 17 meeting, the council favored a single-phase approach as to be "less disruptive" to the community. Staff also noted how it would be more cost-effective to handle the project all at once and added some of the elements of the project — like crosswalks, intersection corners and other surface improvements — would be difficult to separate into different timed phases of construction.

However, Council member Sherryl Parks at the Sept. 17 meeting cautioned the city may be under-budgeting what the contractors will actually want to be paid.

"I hope the bids come in reasonably," she said of the project that would span Ninth Street to Plaza.

City staff said it has planned to pay for the $7.1 million cost through a combination of funds from Senate Bill 1's gas tax increases, Measure Q's increase in sales tax and short-term financing.

Council member Terry Sinnott noted multiple organizations, including the community and Village Association, have worked together to plan the Streetscape. He said that perseverance needs to continue as the project moves into the construction phase.

"It takes a little bit of special handholding and communication, and I think we need to keep that up to ease us through the project," he said.

City staff expects to receive bids in the next few weeks, and the council plans to award a contract in October. Work would follow suit in November, and a "substantial" amount of the project should be completed by May, with a full project completion in July, city staff estimated.

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