Del Mar begins public scoping process for affordable housing


The City of Del Mar has begun looking at zoning options for affordable housing and wants input from the community.

Through March 15, residents will be able to submit considerations for the environmental impact report, including aesthetics, air quality, transportation, public services, noise and more, for 20 commercially-zoned sites being considered for low-income housing.

At a public scoping meeting Feb. 21, city staff and consultants presented a list of potential sites to add zoning for residential, particularly affordable housing, in addition to the current commercial zoning.

The city in 2013 adopted its latest housing element, a required document that spells out how a city proposes to rework its zoning to accommodate future housing, particularly for those of low and very-low income. The housing document, as part of the city’s community plan, required Del Mar to amend the north commercial and professional commercial zones to allow residential up to 20 units per acre with an affordable housing component.

“There’s no physical development or construction associated with this,” confirmed Amanda Lee, the city’s principal planner. “We’re literally putting words on pages in our community plan and in our zoning code.”

Future development would still need permit review and approval consistent with the Del Mar Municipal Code.

Lee said it is important for the city to meet its state-mandated housing obligations.

“We have a housing crisis in the state, and there’s an expectation that the local jurisdictions are going to follow through,” she said. “The state’s actively pursuing enforcement action. ... We are showing our good faith effort in following through with what’s in our housing element.”

Most recently, California sued the City of Huntington Beach for not meeting its expectations, earlier this year. Additionally, the City of Encinitas found itself in hot water when a judge in December mandated it submit its housing plan by April. Encinitas had not had a certified housing element since the 1990s, and voters have rejected the last two attempts at the document. Earlier this month, state officials sent a proposed housing plan back to Encinitas with a demand for revisions.

If Del Mar fails to meet its requirement for additional affordable units, Lee said that could mean the city may face more challenges when seeking state and local grant funds. Additionally, new state legislation can mandate action and enforcement.

The city expects to begin work on its draft environmental document in the spring, and the public will be able to review that document in a 45-day comment period in the summer. The subject will be heard by the planning commission and city council later this year. Del Mar expects to send an update to the state in April 2020.

To view the city’s entire housing element, including the sites up for consideration, visit The city is asking all environmental concerns to be sent to Shaun McMahon, project manager, at through March 15.