Del Mar voters approve sales tax increase

Del Mar voters approved a measure that will increase the city’s sales tax by one percent, while voting against another measure that would have required residents to approve sizable developments.

As of 10 a.m. on Nov. 9, there were approximately 620,000 mail and provisional ballots still to be counted throughout the county, but with all six Del Mar precincts counted, Measure Q was adopted by 67.30 percent of voters on Nov. 8, according to unofficial results released by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. The measure received 1,027 “Yes” votes and 499 “No” votes, increasing Del Mar’s sales tax by one cent to help cover the costs of various city services and infrastructure projects.

A one-cent sales tax increase is estimated to generate about $2 million annually for the general fund.

The finance committee initially proposed the sales tax increase earlier this year as a way to help pay to underground utility poles throughout the city. The council later decided that revenues could also help pay for other projects, such as implementing the Shores Park master plan and improving streetscapes.

Supporters said the measure would create a way for visitors to help pay for some of the city services and infrastructure. Many local business owners, however, opposed the measure and argued it would create a burden on local businesses.

About 30 local business owners signed a petition opposing the measure. KC Vafiadis, owner of the Stratford Square Building, submitted the petition at the July 18 Del Mar City Council, when council members unanimously voted to move forward with the measure.

Del Mar voters appear to have defeated Measure R, which would have required voter approval for proposed development projects in a commercial zone that are 25,000 square feet or larger, allow a density bonus or require a specific plan or zoning code change.

The measure, with all six precincts counted, was defeated by nearly 52.69 percent of voters on Nov. 8, according to unofficial results released by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. The measure received 792 “No” votes and 711 “Yes” votes.

The measure was backed by opponents of Watermark Del Mar, a 48-unit multifamily complex planned for the corner of Jimmy Durante Boulevard and San Dieguito Drive.

Opponents circulated a petition and submitted it to the city and the San Diego County Registrar of Voters in May with 505 signatures from residents supporting the ballot measure. Only 286 signatures, representing 10 percent of the registered voters in the city, were needed to qualify the measure for the general election.

After the signatures were confirmed by the Registrar of Voters in June, the council in July agreed to put the initiative on the November ballot rather than adopt an ordinance they did not support.

Supporters of Measure R said that voters should have a say in the community.

Opponents argued that the measure conflicts with the city’s general plan and state housing regulations. In a legal analysis of the initiative, Assistant City Attorney Barry Schultz found multiple conflicts with state law.

According to the report, the initiative potentially conflicts with the council’s administrative authority and single subject rule. The report stated that the initiative also appears to be inconsistent with planning and zoning documents, including the community plan, housing element, zoning code, Measure B — a similar voter-approved law in place that governs large developments in the downtown area — and the local coastal program. Finally, there could have been fiscal impacts associated with implementation of the initiative if it had passed, according to the report.

Of all six council candidates, only former Mayor Dave Druker supported the measure. Druker led the candidate race with 21.95 percent of the vote.

“The ability for people to have the right to vote on major projects is still a very solid, contentious issue,” Druker said. “I think the council needs to be cautious as it looks at major projects.”

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