Meet the Candidates: Del Mar City Council

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

On Nov. 3, Del Mar residents will choose from six candidates running to fill three city council seats: Phil Blair, Dave Druker, Bob Gans, Tracy Martinez, Dan Quirk and Glenn Warren. In alphabetical order, see their bio information and responses to three questions below.

Phil Blair
Phil Blair

Name: Phil Blair

Occupation: Business Owner, Manpower

Education: Oklahoma State, BA

Community service:

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Board, Past Chair; Economic Development Corporation- Executive Committee Member; San Diego Tourism Board- Board; San Diego Convention Center Board, Past Chair; San Diego Rotary, Chair Elect Member since 1980; The United Way Executive Committee, Past Chair; Manpower Insurance Company, Board Member; World War Two Marauders Association Board; and more.

1. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the city of Del Mar?

• No long-term financial stability and recovery plan

• Short-term rental businesses policy dictated by the Coastal Commission

• No downtown business recovery master plan

• Pending loss of local zoning control for affordable housing

• No County Fairgrounds strategic plan to replace fair income

• City Council incivility impedes ability to solve problems

• Lack of regional alliances needed to solve coastal problems

2. How would you propose to address those issues?

All of these problems are interconnected. They affect our financial viability, community lifestyle and Del Mar’s future. The company I co-founded with a friend is a San Diego success story, not only surviving three recessions and coming out stronger but leading and helping others to do the same. In leading numerous organizations, I have acquired the ability to listen to stakeholders, look for solutions, reach consensus, solve problems, and create new opportunities. In creating these successes, I have made long lasting local and regional relationships that can benefit us in solving Del Mar’s problems, particularly ones created by unelected bureaucrats. Our business is human resources, if hired by our citizens, I want to be Del Mar’s first choice to be the citizens’ voice to solve these lingering problems. Go to my website: for more specific information.

3. Do you agree with the way the city of Del Mar operates? If not, what changes do you think need to be made?

What we lack is the ability to carry through on our visions and priorities. It took 25 years to get a City Hall; similar for Streetscape. It has taken us 7 years to put together an affordable housing plan and some on the Council just ignored all recommendations. For 13 years one council member has not convinced North County Transit District to build an underground safe passageway under the tracks. Now NTCD is threatening to fence off all access over the tracks to the beach. We need to fight this.

Any business that operated this slowly would be out of business and that is where our city is now financially. We spend endless dollars debating, arguing and re-considering important actions that can make our daily lives better. The city staff is operating in a reactive mode. We need city council members who can deliver on the promises and priorities of the community. I have the experience to get these priorities accomplished.

Dave Druker

Name: Dave Druker

Occupation: Technology Executive

Education: MS Counseling, BA Mathematics

Community Service: Del Mar City Councilmember 1996 - 2008, 2016 to present, Founder Winston School.

1. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the city of Del Mar?

Del Mar’s biggest issue is overdevelopment. Our quaint small town atmosphere can easily be ruined by more density. We also must protect our access to the beach and bluff across the tracks. The city must figure out how to address affordable housing without changing the character of the town. Finally, we must successfully recover from the financial crisis caused by COVID-19.

2. How would you propose to address those issues?

The city must create a master plan to reduce its reliance on sales tax from the Fairgrounds. The city must repay the Q loan and replenish reserves prior to adding back staff. We must work with the Fairgrounds to build affordable housing - the state has mandated the housing and the state-owned property in Del Mar should help us solve the problem. We must work with NCTD to continue to provide unfettered access to the beach.

3. Do you agree with the way the city of Del Mar operates? If not, what changes do you think need to be made?

The city staff needs to do a better job of listening to the residents and business owners in Del Mar. A majority of the council needs to reflect the people’s desire to control growth. Finally, the council needs to build trust with the citizens by respecting the different viewpoints and listening to all constituents.

Bob Gans

Name: Bob Gans

Occupation: Attorney Specializing in Corporate Governance

Education: Dartmouth College (A.B., Government, 1987), New York University School of Law (J.D., 1990)

Community Service: Member, City of Del Mar Finance Committee (2015 to present); President, Vice President, Secretary, and Board Member, Del Mar Foundation (2012-2020); Treasurer, Finance Committee Chair, Trustee, La Jolla Country Day School Board of Trustees (2011-2015); President, Del Mar Schools Education Foundation (2007-2008); Nation Leader, Magdalena-Ecke Y Guide and Y Princess Programs (2004-2006)

1. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the City of Del Mar?

(a) Managing the Covid-19 financial crisis while still achieving progress on our priorities, including downtown revitalization and undergrounding.

(b) Maintaining local control over our zoning to protect our Community Plan, which includes regulating short-term rental businesses in residential zones and protecting North Bluff from state-mandated housing development.

(c) Implementing our Climate Action Plan, our Sea Level Rise Adaptation Plan (sand replenishment and other strategies, with no managed retreat), and proceeding with our Clean Energy Alliance with Solana Beach and Carlsbad.

2. How would you propose to address these issues?

(a) I will continue the City’s efforts to curb non-essential spending, and to repay Measure Q reserve funds as quickly as possible to get undergrounding back on track. I support efforts to help our local businesses during this crisis, including liberalization of parking and outdoor seating regulations that do not make sense in the midst of this financial crisis.

(b) The recent council vote rejecting implementation of the North Commercial zoning amendments have exposed the City to fines, lawsuits, and loss of control over our zoning, which makes it impossible to defend the Community Plan. I will do everything possible to reverse this terrible decision and bring our City back into compliance with state law, while also opposing efforts by the state to prevent us from imposing reasonable regulations on STRBs in our residential zones.

(c) I fully support implementing our climate action plan, opposing managed retreat, and protecting the investments we have in the Clean Energy Alliance with Solana Beach and Carlsbad.

3. Do you agree with the way the City of Del Mar operates? If not, what changes do you think need to be made?

We live in a uniquely beautiful city with an extraordinarily talented citizenry that values a cooperative spirit and informed decision-making above all else. I’ve seen too little of that spirit of cooperation and mutual respect on the Council in recent years. We are facing challenges right now that few of us have seen in our lifetimes. We will make no progress addressing these challenges if we dig in our heels and demonize those who disagree with us. Through my work on the Del Mar Foundation Board and on the Finance Committee, I have seen what we can do when we all work together and keep an open mind. Now is the time to build bridges and find common ground, to preserve everything that drew us to Del Mar in the first place. I hope to restore that spirit, which is the Del Mar Way, to our City government.

Tracy Martinez
Tracy Martinez
(Laura Jucha)

Name: Tracy Martinez

Occupation: RN and Healthcare Director

Education: BSN

Community Service: Vice Chair, Ad hoc Citizens 6th Cycle Affordable Housing Task force, and Chair, Traffic and Parking Advisory Committee.

1. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the city of Del Mar?

I believe the biggest issues are foster a strong fiscal balanced budget, replenish and protect Measure Q funds and support downtown businesses. Protect our Community Plan and character from over development and, lastly, it is imperative to work with the fairgrounds to build required state-mandated affordable housing. Our large number of mandated affordable housing units are due to the 2,000 transient part-time jobs at the fairgrounds. They should build housing to cover their jobs, not Del Mar.

2. How would you propose to address those issues?

Del Mar needs to pay as they go, not take on debt, pay back Measure Q funds, be thoughtful with spending for things such as consultants for example. Create a vibrant downtown by being flexible and creative. We must have effective city council fairgrounds liaisons that will fight for Del Mar and not be complacent.

3. Do you agree with the way the city of Del Mar operates? If not, what changes do you think need to be made?

We need more government transparency and more resident inclusiveness. We need to remember that residents come first.

Dan Quirk

Name: Dan Quirk

Occupation: Finance Professional

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Notre Dame

Community Service: Volunteer with Father Joe’s Villages (and application pending for board position)

1. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the city of Del Mar?

The two biggest issues are land use zoning and financial mismanagement.

On zoning, I want to protect against overdevelopment and preserve our open space and small-town character. I voted against the Marisol project (Measure G) because of unavoidable density and congestion problems.

On finances, Del Mar is a small town of 4,000 people, yet we spent $26+ million on an expensive City Hall ($18 million cost, $16 million in debt) and a mismanaged, overpriced downtown “streetscaping” project ($8+ million cost).

I helped to create and lead Measure Q in 2016, winning with nearly 70% voter approval. The primary reason for this was to bury all powerlines in Del Mar. However, in 4 years, despite collecting $8 million for the fund, we have buried no powerlines. Zero. In April, the Measure Q Oversight Committee was suspended and the fund was raided for $500,000+ to cover the City’s misspending. This is unacceptable.

2. How would you propose to address those issues?

To address zoning and state-required affordable housing issues, the best path forward is a partnership with the Fairgrounds. There is a large amount of underutilized land here, and I can provide some creativity and energy to get something done.

On financials, we must stop spending money unwisely. We need to use data and technology instead of adding staff and related pension costs. Last year, our spending rate per capita was 75% higher than Solana Beach and 141% higher than Encinitas.

We need to be creative and do things like empower our amazing resident volunteers as free and highly skilled labor. For example, I’m on the Utility Undergrounding Committee. The City would prefer to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a consultant for “communications”. This isn’t smart. The committee members live in the community and can provide the outreach more effectively and for free.

3. Do you agree with the way the city of Del Mar operates? If not, what changes do you think need to be made?

I don’t agree. Del Mar is beautiful because of its perch on the Pacific, but if you look at the actual operations of the City, we miss the mark. We have policies that are very unfriendly to our struggling downtown businesses. We’ve also buried no powerlines in 4 years despite $8 million collected to do so. Or look at the dirt median on the Dog Beach bridge. This is the entrance to Del Mar, and it looks terrible. If the City spent $50,000 for some plants and trees, the volunteer Del Mar Garden Club could have it quickly look amazing at no cost.

The way forward is to bring data analytics, appropriate use of surveys, and modern technology into how we operate. This will allow us to efficiently and transparently get to the right answers that the majority of residents support. Democracy doesn’t have to be so painful.

Glenn Warren

Name: Glenn Warren

Occupation: Retired Diplomat

Education: Williams College, B.A. in political economy; California Western School of Law, J.D., Cambridge University, LLM in international law

Community Service: Public Defender, Foreign Service Officer, City of Del Mar Design Review Board member

1. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the city of Del Mar?

Budget Crisis: The biggest immediate issue facing the City of Del Mar is a revenue shortfall due to the coronavirus. The city has wisely prioritized spending and taken actions such as reducing operating expenses, deferring projects, and using contingency reserves.

Proliferation of Short-term Rentals Businesses and Need to Regulate: Short-term rental business (STRB) regulation is important for three reasons: 1) Many STRBs create nuisances—noise and other neighborhood disturbances; 2) STRBs are inimical to neighborhood cohesiveness; rather than getting to know neighbors, residents are often treated to a revolving door of vacationers; 3) STRBs reduce housing stock available for permanent residents who are concerned about our community and contribute to Del Mar’s future.

Affordable Housing to Meet State Mandates: Del Mar is under pressure from the State to provide affordable housing. Failure to meet State mandates could result in lawsuits against the City by the State and by private developers. Most importantly, the State could force Del Mar to upzone and created denser housing in certain areas.

2. How would you propose to address those issues?

Budget Crisis: As a council member, I would work with other council members and the city manager to take financially prudent measures to keep Del Mar afloat, while at the same time preparing for the end of the coronavirus crisis when we can return to normal operations. In the longer term, Del Mar must vitalize downtown (in a resident-friendly manner) to increase our tax base.

Proliferation of Short-term Rentals Businesses and Need to Regulate: The Coastal Commission has proposed a 3/100 rule (3-day minimum up to 100 days annually), which I don’t believe deals with the problem. If elected, I will not let the Coastal Commission dictate to us what is acceptable STRB regulation. I will use my legal experience and negotiating skills to get 7/28 fully implemented.

Affordable Housing to Meet State Mandates: As a council member, I would vote to allow housing in the NC zone, to include affordable housing, and would work with the Fairgrounds to allow affordable housing. Placing affordable housing in these areas is essential to avoid upzoning of the North and South Bluffs.

3. Do you agree with the way the city of Del Mar operates? If not, what changes do you think need to be made?

I generally support how the City operates. In campaigning, I have heard business owners complain that it is often difficult to get permits and from homeowners that the building process is too complicated. While it’s essential that we maintain our village atmosphere and neighborhoods, I would seek to create a more customer-oriented culture and streamline our permitting processes.