Del Mar sends letter to Atkins about ‘unintended consequences’ of housing legislation, local control

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

Del Mar council members sent a letter to state Sen. Toni Atkins about the “unintended consequences” of housing legislation that many local leaders have complained about as the state tries to solve homelessness and affordability crises.

“We have experienced dramatic and consequential loss of local control that really has resulted in numerous negative impacts in our city and for our residents,” Del Mar Deputy Mayor Tracy Martinez said.

The letter mentions state legislation that streamlines ADU construction as a way to add to the housing stock, but does not require that ADUs are actually used as housing units. Homeowners who build ADUs commonly use them as home offices and other purposes.

“Overall, the State mandates raise concerns about loss of local control, unnecessary impacts to community character, and impacts to the general fund,” the city’s letter says.

As part of the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation process, Del Mar has to provide zoning for 175 new units, including 113 affordable units.

“The City recognizes that housing affordability is a critical issue facing California and the City is committed to being part of the solution to the housing shortfall,” Martinez, Council member Terry Gaasterland and city planners said in a report to the council.

But they also said in the letter that there are “inconsistencies” in implementing laws such as SB 9, which allows duplexes and fourplexes on lots for single family-homes, in cities that are in the coastal zone. Development in the coastal zone, which includes the whole city of Del Mar, is subject to increased oversight from the state’s Coastal Commission.

“The SB 9 and ADU legislation in particular have been challenging to implement due to Del Mar’s coastal location and associated environmentally sensitive lands constraints and evolving interpretations of the respective laws at the State level,” the letter says.

Supporters of SB 9 have argued that the legislation was a critical step in circumventing the single-family zoning that bottlenecked construction of multi-unit housing, including affordable housing.

“This bill would give homeowners the tools to help ease our state’s housing shortage while creating a new source of income in their own backyard,” Atkins said in a statement last year, shortly before SB 9 was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom. “It would allow our communities to welcome new families to the neighborhood and help more folks set foot on the path to buying their first home.”

Del Mar Mayor Dwight Worden said that the city should put forward more specifics.

“I just don’t have any real expectations that she’s going to jump on it and sponsor legislation to do anything unless we give her something more specific,” Worden said.