Residents voice concerns about Del Mar council’s advisory committee selection process


Upset with the way people were appointed to a new committee last month, community members shared their concerns with the Del Mar City Council on July 6.

“We don’t like seeing the city reverse its course on anything; we all want to move forward,” said Del Mar resident Greg Rothnem, who applied to the committee but wasn’t appointed. “But in this instance, we think you should. We think you should do a do-over. Rescind the appointments and go through the process again.

“We understand that’s difficult to make that type of decision to start over, but in this instance, it’s the right decision and one that’s in the best interest of this community.”

Acknowledging the community’s concerns about the city’s design review process, the council on May 18 further opened the process to the public. In a 3-0 vote, council members established a citizens advisory committee to provide input on Del Mar’s design review process. The process is intended to preserve and protect the community character.

Some residents want the design review ordinance to be stricter, while others want the rules more relaxed.

The city received 28 applications for the nine-person committee. The council made its appointments during the June 15 council meeting.

Council members selected former design review board member Anne Farrell and former planning commission member John Giebink. They also selected Nancy Doyle, a Del Mar property owner who has, within the past 18 months, processed a design review application, including a Citizens Participation Program, and Dean Meredith, a professional architect or land use planner, who has, within the past 18 months, represented an applicant through the design review/CPP process. The council also selected five citizens at large: Harold Feder, John Graybill, Richard Jamison, Kelly Kaplan and Art Olson.

Most of the applicants attended the June 15 meeting expecting to be interviewed for the committee, but the council only asked to briefly hear the backgrounds of the three applicants who were professional architects or land use planners.

“With the kind of turnout and interest people showed in participating on this committee, it is clear council should have created a completely separate agenda to focus on making the right choices of the people to serve on this committee,” resident Terri Pavelko said during the oral communications portion of the July 6 meeting. She also applied to the committee but wasn’t appointed.

“We had 16 new names and faces that stepped up and stepped forward to get involved with this extremely important community issue — all with extremely diversified backgrounds and qualifications,” she continued.

“But you don’t know that because you never spoke with them. You did not interview them. You don’t even know who they are. Instead, you selected the same people we all know with the same single-minded voice.”

Sharing these concerns, 25 community members submitted speaker slips on the topic, with 14 members of the public choosing to talk.

“You were elected to represent the whole community,” said resident Linda Rock. “By limiting that selection process to people you knew, I think you did the community a disservice.”

Many of the speakers were upset about the selection process, specifically about the council not interviewing the applicants. Some also said that the council did not appoint people with varying views.

After hearing from concerned community members, council members said the public would be able to stay engaged in the process — even if they weren’t selected for the committee.

“I hope that I can ask you to trust the liaisons to keep this committee on track and keep the process open and inclusive and reach a good conclusion,” said Councilman Don Mosier, who is a liaison to the committee, as is Councilman Dwight Worden.

“I’m glad you came down here,” Worden said. “Yell at us when we need it. Keep our feet to the fire. Personally, I feel a little bit bad listening to you now that we didn’t take the time and interview people.”

Agreeing with some of the suggestions from the speakers, council members said the committee could potentially change its format or time to be more inviting to the public.

“We know we have neighborhood problems. We know we have issues that we’d like to make better,” said Councilman Terry Sinnott. “Hopefully, it’s a constructive process.”

Mosier reminded community members that committee recommendations would come before the council.

“Any recommendations will come back to council for action,” he said. “If there’s any change it will take quite some time, so there will be ample time for public comment, not only at the committee meetings, but at any council meeting before any action is taken.”