Del Mar contests legal basis for proposed 259-unit housing project on north bluff

Renderings of Seaside Ridge
Renderings of Seaside Ridge, a proposed 259-unit apartment complex in Del Mar. It is on a nearly 7-acre site near Dog Beach.
(Frank Wolden)

The city of Del Mar informed the developer of a proposed 259-unit housing project on the north bluff that the city is “not in agreement with the proposed legal basis” of the plans.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the legal basis for the development, called Seaside Ridge, is contingent on state law that streamlines approvals when a city does not have a state-approved housing element.

Due to the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation process, Del Mar has to provide zoning for 175 new housing units, including 113 that are affordable. A key part of the city’s housing element depends on building about 50 affordable housing units at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, but city and fairgrounds officials are still in the process of working out a deal to make it happen

“It is the City’s position that the submitted application request is not consistent with the current zoning and density allowances for the property located at 929 Border Avenue,” Del Mar Principal Planner Matt Bator said in an Oct. 14 letter. “The City’s adopted Housing Element identifies a sufficient inventory of sites with correct zoning and capacity to meet the City’s RHNA without the need to rezone properties.”

The letter, which the city posted on its website, also says that the city will deem any future submittals for the project inconsistent with the city’s General Plan, zoning code, and Local Coastal Program. To continue with the project, the city is asking the developer to submit a General Plan amendment, rezone application, Local Coastal Program amendment, and eight other applications that would create a longer, arduous road to approval.

The letter was addressed to Manuel Nieto, of Nieto Consulting Engineers, who submitted the project on behalf of property owner Carol Lazier, according to application documents that were submitted to the city.

In their preliminary development application, they wrote that the project “provides much needed housing for Del Mar in all income ranges and gives equitable access to coastal resources, including households with low, very low, and extremely low income.” The 259 units include 71 studios, 131 one-bedrooms, 38 two-bedrooms and 19 three-bedrooms with an average unit size of 819 square feet, according to the application.

Nieto did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2020, about two-thirds of Del Mar voters rejected a ballot measure that would have led to a hotel project on the same Border Avenue property with up to 146 hotel rooms, 22 affordable housing units and public amenities. That proposal limited the building heights to two stories and 26 feet. Seaside Ridge would have nine buildings at an average height of 25 feet, with some up to four stories with a maximum height of 55 feet.

Del Mar Mayor Dwight Worden said in an email that he and the rest of the City Council have been advised against commenting on the proposed project because it is “a pending application that must be processed per the rules in due course.”