Report details Del Mar progress on state housing goals

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

The city of Del Mar has issued building permits for 29 new units that can be counted towards a state housing mandate that has to be fulfilled over the next eight years, according to an annual report that council members reviewed during their March 21 meeting.

As part of the state’s sixth Regional Housing Needs Allocation, which runs from 2021 to 2029, Del Mar was assigned 163 units across multiple income levels. Of the 29 new units that have been permitted, 10 can be applied to the city’s requirement for above moderate income units and 19 count as moderate income units. Income categories are calculated based on county median income.

Many of those units are accessory dwelling units, which cities and the state have been encouraging as a way to bridge the gap in housing production. But there have also been questions about whether new ADUs are being used for housing new tenants.

“When I was walking the neighborhoods during the election, I met seven people who had either applied for ADUs or had them, and none of them were using them for another family or individual or couple to reside,” Del Mar City Councilwoman Tracy Martinez said. “There was an office, a playground, a workout room. So that’s an issue.”

Del Mar Mayor Dwight Worden had also mentioned the issue of ADUs being used for other purposes, and the possibility of passing a local law to ensure that they are used for housing. The city is not currently pursuing that type of ordinance.

Council members also questioned how the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development would respond to ADUs that are not being used for housing.

“If we demonstrate they’re not being used as dwelling units, that doesn’t work in our favor,” said Amanda Lee, the city’s principal planner.

The annual report covers the 2021 calendar year, when 24 permits were issued for new housing. Another five newly permitted units from 2020 will also count for the sixth cycle RHNA process.

“This report is different from what we’ve done in prior years,” Worden said. “It has a lot more detail and a lot more content. If you are interested in housing, take a look at it.”