From the Del Mar Mayor: Summer update
Summer has arrived and we are half way through 2017. This is a good time for me to bring you up to speed on City projects that are progressing in Del Mar.
Downtown Streetscape Improvements
Improvements will be along Camino Del Mar from 9th Street to 15th Street. We are in the process updating the design of those improvements with the hope of beginning construction in the Spring of 2018. A series of community outreach meetings have been held to identify the improvements people want included in the concept plan: “have-to-do” items and “nice to do” items. The response and input have been very positive. If you would like to view some of the possible improvements being considered, go to www.delmar.ca.us/617/downtown-streetscape, and click on Webinar Presentation.
Del Mar Racing and Breeders’ Cup
The opening day of Del Mar’s 78th racing season was July 19. From all indications, we are off to a good start. The Thoroughbred Club has improved its traffic control and made improvements in the sound systems to minimize the noise impacts of their concert series. The Breeders’ Cup runs Nov. 3 - 4. Ticket sales for this event have surpassed all other Breeders’ Cup venues. Sixty percent of the 38,000 attendees are expected to be out-of-town visitors. This is a great opportunity to showcase Del Mar. You may have seen five of the new Torrie Horses installed around town. These are part of the “Art of the Horse” celebrating the Breeders’ Cup.
City Hall Construction
We are on schedule and on budget. Our Finance Committee does a quarterly review of all the City Hall Project financing and has just completed its report to Council. We are in good shape. Some special thanks are given to the neighbors on 10th and 11th Streets who are temporarily impacted by this project. It will be over soon, with completion scheduled for spring of 2018.
This is an issue that has sharply divided our community. The Council has made an interpretation that short-term rentals (under 30 days) are not allowed in our residential zones. Council is in the process of drafting regulations that will allow some exceptions to this ruling, and discussing how the regulations will be implemented. Workshops or other public meetings will be utilized to encourage public discussion of the short-term rental issue. I am opposed to the position of the Council, and hope we can find a workable set of regulations that help address the negative effects of short-term rentals.
Law Enforcement Proposal
For four years the Finance Committee has been studying how to better control our law enforcement contract costs and improve response times. Their final recommendation was for the City to consider its own police department which would reduce escalating costs and give us twice the number of patrol deputies on the streets of Del Mar. The City Manager completed an implementation study that detailed how a police department would be established. It is similar to our Lifeguards and Fire Department. Now the City Council is evaluating the proposal and will make a decision this fall. I feel this is a good alternative to our current outsourcing of law enforcement and will help Del Mar become a model for community policing.
Measure Q (Sales Tax)
In November, voters approved a 1 percent district sales and use tax ballot measure. This tax went into effect on April 1, 2017. The money raised is targeted for improving streets, undergrounding utility lines, installing streetscape projects, developing our local parks, and providing safety services. The Council has established a Measure Q oversight subcommittee of the Finance Committee to make sure funds are properly tracked. We have agreed that a separate underground project team will be established. We are now debating how to prioritize the use of funds in addition to the undergrounding program. The process has been slow, but it is moving forward.
Public Art Program
The City Council approved the Public Art Policy in May. The policy sets up an Art Advisory Committee who will guide and make recommendations on public art. Next week, applications for membership on this Committee will open and we hope to have the City Council approve volunteers in early October. If you are interested in helping implement public art in Del Mar, please go to the Volunteer Information on the City of Del Mar website: www.delmar.ca.us/347/Committee-Vacancies.
Hope you all have a safe and relaxing summer.
I have the privilege of serving as Del Mar’s Mayor for one year. These comments are my own perspective and do not necessarily represent the consensus of the Council.