Del Mar Council offers one more chance for public to speak on city hall plan

Del Mar residents will have another chance to weigh in on whether they want a basic city hall or a civic center that could eventually include other amenities such as commercial space.

Although it wasn’t decided when the public will be polled, the Del Mar City Council on Dec. 1 unanimously agreed that the community should once again have an opportunity to voice their choice on the issue.

“The October workshop was a nice way of polishing our ideas and getting feedback, but my hope is that if we’re going to build something as significant as this city hall, that we will get more comprehensive input or advice from the community as a whole,” said Councilman Terry Sinnott.

More than 70 people attended the third public workshop on the matter in October, where 57 percent of attendees wanted a civic center-only complex, while 40 percent preferred a mixed-use village concept.

After the Oct. 29 workshop, the council regrouped on Nov. 17 to review the results and recommend next steps for replacing the deteriorating facilities at 1050 Camino del Mar. With residents clearly divided, council members decided to further develop three alternatives and return to the public for more feedback. But after further discussion Dec. 1, the council narrowed the choices to two.

“There’s a risk anytime you give people three choices,” said incoming Councilman Dwight Worden. “What if we get about a third on each? We don’t get a majority for any project, but we know almost everybody wants to do a project.”

Both options feature a 9,250-square-foot city hall, a 3,200-square-foot town hall, a 15,000-square-foot plaza and required parking.

The first option would replace the outdated facilities at grade level and include 60 to 75 surface parking stalls, while the second option would replace the facilities on a podium and include a tuck-under parking structure with approximately 160 spaces, said Kathleen Garcia, the city’s planning and community development director. Doing so would offer flexible space so the city could further develop the site in the future.

The council narrowed the options after a lengthy discussion in what was the 23rd time city officials have discussed the project over the past 18 months, Garcia said.

Del Mar initiated the city hall planning process in June 2013. Since then, the council has discussed the project at a number of council meetings, issued a citywide survey and held three public workshops.

“We need to lock these in,” Garcia said. “If we’re going to be doing financial analysis and moving forward to putting these out, we need to make sure that we are all speaking in one voice and moving forward with a very defined objective.”

Residents will weigh in on the two options after the city refines the concepts and hires a consultant to conduct the polling. City staff has already been in contact with several industry experts, including Everyone Counts, Martin & Chapman, Simply Votes and the San Diego Registrar of Voters.

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