Vote may be held in Del Mar on controversial zoning ordinance

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

Del Mar voters may get to weigh in on a controversial zoning ordinance that is intended to provide additional affordable housing units in the city’s north commercial zone, in an effort to meet state housing mandates.

Council members approved the zoning ordinance in October. It increases the density of 16 parcels of land off Jimmy Durante Boulevard to 20 residential units per acre. City planners estimated the change will allow 19 additional affordable housing units.

However, city resident Arnie Wiesel launched a petition drive to overturn the zoning ordinance, and gathered enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot. Wiesel said the intent was to achieve “more relevant and sensitive” zoning changes that preserve Del Mar’s quaint, village-like atmosphere.

At the City Council meeting on Monday, Jan. 11, council members had the option of repealing the ordinance outright, or setting an election.

The council was short-handed, as its two newest members, Dan Quirk and Tracy Martinez, had to recuse themselves because of property they own within 500 feet of the north commercial zone, council members said.

While all the three remaining council members – Mayor Terry Gaasterland, Dwight Worden and Dave Druker – supported placing the measure before voters, they could not agree on whether to set the matter for a special election this year or wait for the general election of November 2022.

The council may revisit the timing issue next month, after it considers a related community plan amendment. Also, council members plan to contact the referendum’s supporters to see if they would be open to withdrawing their petition if changes are made to the ordinance.

City officials have said that failure to comply with the state’s housing mandates could result in fines, litigation or other consequences.