Del Mar council discusses COVID recovery, climate in goal-setting workshop

The Del Mar Civic Center.
(Karen Billing)

The Del Mar City Council held a goal-setting workshop on March 9 to review some of the priorities for the city going forward.

It was the first time in two years that the council held the workshop, which normally takes place every year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city is still in the process of recovering from the pandemic. Tax revenue, tourism, staffing at City Hall and other areas are still in the process of returning to normal.

“The good news is that fiscal recovery is occurring at a faster pace than anticipated, and revenues are coming in higher than projected,” Monica Molina, the city’s finance manager, said during a presentation to council members.

And according to a city staff report, “while overall the City’s finances are improving and revenues are coming in higher than anticipated, the City continues to significantly limit spending in all areas, not all operational services have been fully restored, and revenues have not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels.”

Some of the discussion also focused on the environment. Ann Feeney, who serves on the city’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, mentioned a possible building electrification ordinance similar to the ones passed by the cities of Encinitas and Solana Beach.

“We can use the Encinitas ordinance as a model almost exactly the way it’s written,” Feeney said.

Del Mar City Councilman Dave Druker said that the city should gear its climate goals toward preparing for the impacts of climate change.

“I think we, as a city, need to start thinking about how we are going to reduce the effects of climate change on our citizens,” Druker said. “Specifically there are three things we need to figure out. One is how to reduce the ocean from inundating the first row of houses on the beach. The second is reduce the effect of San Dieguito river flooding. And finally, what is the effect of a wildfire coming through?”

Some of the other priorities council members brought up include a potential policy that accessory dwelling units have to be used for housing only, issuing a request for proposal for city attorney services just to test the market, and continue pursuing short-term rental regulations.

Del Mar City Councilman Dan Quirk mentioned median improvements.

“They all, with the exception of a few, need some love,” City Manager Ashley Jones said. “They’re not looking good, they need to be cleaned up. There’s a lot to be desired there.”