An update on Del Mar’s revitalization efforts


By Howard Gad

Chairman, Form-Based Code Committee

As many of you know, Del Mar has embarked on a new form-based zoning program to help revitalize downtown. The City Council’s goal is to encourage commercial property owners to appropriately revitalize their property in a way that is consistent with Del Mar’s Community Plan.

The objective is to focus retail and office activities into one

economically viable, pedestrian-

oriented, attractive area that serves the needs of both residents and visitors alike while integrating with the residential fabric of the community.

To accomplish this goal, the council appointed nine citizens with broad expertise and experience with Del Mar to serve on a form-based code (FBC) committee.

Public committee meetings began in May and schematic designs for downtown circulation revisions were shared at last weeks meeting. There will be several public design meetings in November plus a community workshop tentatively scheduled for the first part of December. The committee plans a monthly update article on our progress and below are answers to some questions community members have raised:

Why is this being done?

There has been little redevelopment in downtown for more than 20 years. Many structures are physically and functionally obsolete and unable to attract quality tenants. Vacancies and underperforming businesses have diminished Del Mar’s commercial viability, reducing city revenues at a time those revenues are needed to provide public services.

To help reverse this trend, the City Council wants to create development incentives for specific properties to encourage redevelopment conforming to our Community Plan. Those incentives will be structured through new FBC zoning currently underway by the FBC committee.

How will it work?

Current zoning establishes uniform standards such as setbacks, dwellings per acre, floor area ratios, height restrictions and parking. By contrast, FBC zoning sets design parameters lot by lot regulating development in order to achieve specific building forms creating predictable public appearances for buildings, streets, sidewalks or other structures. The regulations and standards are presented in diagrams, drawings and words keyed to a “regulating plan.”

The FBC program focuses on non-residential properties and is intended as a long-term tool to improve the retail vitality and village character of Del Mar.

Can I give input?

Televised public meetings are held monthly at the Del Mar TV studio with meeting schedules posted in the “Form-Based Code” section of the city’s Web site at For more information contact Planning & Community Development Interim Director Brian Mooney at (858) 755-9313.