While the Del Mar City Council assured concerned residents Sept. 17 that a proposed resort was still in the "early stages," opponents once again shared concerns that the project planned for a blufftop in the city’s far northwestern region would affect the area's character and coastal views, among other worries.
After a presentation on the timeline and steps of the proposed Del Mar Resort project — that would change zoning on the land from residential to commercial — as well as a half-dozen public speakers, Mayor Dwight Worden cautioned the attendees that more decisions must be made and more meetings must take place before anything is finalized. He encouraged residents to "trust in the process."
“We have the most rigorous process in the county," he said. "We will have lots of information to evaluate. History tells us that almost never does a project come out at the end of the process looking like it started.”
Kathleen A. Garcia, the city's planning and community development director, said the city and developers have hosted several community outreach meetings regarding the proposed project and installed story poles informing passersby of the possible resort. Del Mar council members have also met with Solana Beach representatives to hear their opinions, as the project would also affect that neighboring area. A final environmental impact report is estimated for the spring or summer of 2019.
Because of the informational nature of the presentation, the council did not take any action.
Still, naysayers of the project — which would place 251 hotel rooms, event space and 76 residential units on 16.5 acres at Camino Del Mar and Border Avenue — once again expressed concerns that the proposed resort would negatively affect the area's open space character, would gridlock beach residents with more traffic and would add noise and pollution.
“If you really value our community, we should oppose the changing of the zoning from residential to commercial… and really value what this community is supposed to be," said Del Mar resident Carol Dobberbol.
One other resident added residents should be able to vote before any rezoning takes place.
Deputy Mayor Dave Druker agreed that residents should have their say, but also expressed hope that the process would create a good plan.
Other council members said it was too early to make statements about the project because it has not officially come before the council yet.
“This is like a pregnancy," said council member Sherryl Parks. "We are pregnant here. We have a project and the council and our city staff will honor and respect the developer. ... We will trust the process, listen to you [the residents] and hope you stay engaged. If we promise we will go to a vote, I think people would tend to just not be engaged anymore because they would have already decided one way or another.”
Council member Terry Sinnott encouraged the residents to consider what they like and dislike about the project.
"If it's all just positive or negative, it looks like you don't have an objective look at things," he told the residents.
The city is also planning another workshop Oct. 17 at Town Hall. No decisions will be made at the hearing. Instead, it is aimed to be informational and an opportunity to hear public comments and applicant's concepts, city staff said. Zephyr Partners is teaming with The Robert Green Co. to develop the project.