Del Mar council considers changes to civic center plans

In a move that could save the city a half-million dollars, the Del Mar City Council on March 21 directed staff to further study changes to the parking garage for Del Mar’s planned civic center.

Located on the site of the city’s current facilities at 1050 Camino del Mar, the project includes an 8,722-square-foot city hall, 3,172-square-foot town hall and 15,000-square-foot public plaza. When the council approved permits for the construction of the nearly $18 million complex in January, it also included up to 160 parking spaces in a two-level partially below-grade structure and surface lot.

Since then, the architects for the project, The Miller Hull Partnership, have proposed a one-level garage. With a one-level garage, there would be no changes to the approved vehicle egresses and ingresses of the garage.

However, the one-level garage would reduce the total number of parking spaces to 140. It would also extend the parking structure under the town hall and town commons, which would require modifications to the structural system, storm drainage and tree placement plans, which have been taken into account in the calculation of cost savings.

But Kathleen Garcia, the city’s planning and community development director, explained there are also many benefits.

First, a single-level garage could save the city up to $500,000.

It would also eliminate a steep ramp and reduce the amount of excavation needed during construction. The elevator would only need to go down one level and the stairs could be naturally lit, she said, so the single-level garage would also improve pedestrian circulation.

Additionally, it would accommodate egress onto 10th Street, if the council moves forward with requests from neighbors, and it would increase operational efficiencies.

“I think that some of the benefits are significant and they should not be minimized — the first of which it looks like we could save a half a million dollars,” said Councilman Al Corti.

He also reminded his colleagues that the city had already lost some of the 160 spaces when an entryway was added and one of the expansion areas was expanded in the design plans.

“I think this is moving in the right direction,” agreed Councilman Don Mosier. “I think eliminating that steep ramp not only saves cost, but it wasn’t going to function very well.”

The council voted unanimously to direct staff to further study and prepare an administrative design modification for consideration at a later date.

The modification should have no impact on the project schedule. In fact, City Manager Scott Huth said it could actually “speed up construction” when the project is in the building phase.