Del Mar Fairgrounds provides update on affordable housing negotiations

Del Mar Fairgrounds
(San Diego Union Tribune)

The Del Mar Fairgrounds has continued to work with the city of Del Mar on a deal to bring about 60 affordable housing units on the fairgrounds.

The state-owned venue is “in the first phase of the exclusive negotiating agreement from the city of Del Mar,” fairgrounds CEO Carlene Moore said during a Sept. 12 board of directors meeting.

“We anticipate bringing something forward to this board later this year, early next year in concert with the city of Del Mar,” Moore said. “We’ll be establishing that timeline of what that looks like going forward.”

The housing on the fairgrounds is supposed to account for about half of the 113 affordable units that the city has to accommodate as part of the state’s sixth-cycle Regional Housing Needs Allocation. The two sides have been talking about it since 2021, when the city first adopted its housing element with a provision about negotiating with the fairgrounds to add those units.

If a deal doesn’t happen, the city listed the north bluff as an alternative site to upzone for affordable housing. Development on the north bluff, however, hasn’t been a popular idea in Del Mar. That same north bluff site was the location for the March 2020 Marisol hotel ballot measure, which included 22 affordable housing units. It was rejected by about 60% of Del Mar voters.

State Sen. Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, had also introduced a bill to help close the deal. SB 547 would have set a state mandate for the city and fairgrounds to reach a deal by April 30, 2024. It passed the Senate before stalling in the Assembly’s Committee on Agriculture. Committee members were concerned about the precedent the bill could set for land use on other state fairgrounds, even though the text of the bill was tailored for Del Mar.

San Diego County is responsible for about 170,000 new housing units during the sixth-cycle Regional Housing Needs Allocation, which runs from 2021 to 2029.