Del Mar council agrees to terms of petition withdrawal, final approval pending

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

Del Mar City Council members agreed to the terms of the withdrawal of a petition to overturn a zoning change to the city’s North Commercial parcels during their July 12 meeting.

The final agreement is still pending discussions on reimbursement of legal fees, Del Mar Mayor Terry Gaasterland said. The zoning change was part of the city’s 2013 housing element, which showed the state where it planned to accommodate new housing.

For the record:

6:40 p.m. July 14, 2021A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the referendum petition has been withdrawn. The story and headline have been updated to reflect that the City Council approved the agreement to withdraw the petition, but its withdrawal is still pending an agreement on reimbursement of legal fees.

The grassroots Del Mar Community Hillside Association group has been negotiating with the city on the withdrawal of the petition, which gathered enough signatures last year to qualify for a future ballot. The withdrawal agreement approved by the council requires the city to address short-term rental usage, wildfire risks, design standards and traffic, and other areas of concern for residents who supported the petition.

The North Commercial zoning change was approved 3-2 by the City Council in October 2020, about one month before the November election changed the makeup of the council. The new North Commercial zoning was part of the city’s 2013 housing element, which showed the state where the city planned to accommodate new housing.

Council members wanted to avoid a referendum, which likely wouldn’t appear on a ballot until November 2022, because of potential penalties from the state and to prevent a backup plan to put more housing along the north bluff.

“That withdrawal agreement has been a long time in the making,” Gaasterland said before that agenda item was approved as part of the council’s consent calendar. “There have been many, many items in it and we’ve talked about them at length.”

Gaasterland and City Councilman Dave Druker have been holding discussions with the petitioners to reach an agreement for withdrawal.

Del Mar resident Arnie Wiesel, who submitted the petition on behalf of the Del Mar Hillside Association, did not respond to a request for comment before press time.

Wiesel said in a previous interview that the petition was about “getting the housing without destroying aspects of Del Mar that are critically important.”