Building the Plaza, part 2
Presented by Joe Jelley
The result of the controversy over building the Del Mar Plaza was Measure M, which called for developments of more than 25,000 square feet to be put to a public vote.
This happened despite the developers winning approval for the Plaza project from the elected and appointed bodies in charge of reviewing development in Del Mar.
“I still believe to this day that planning should be done by the officials who end up studying all the details,” David Winkler said. Winkler and Ivan Gayler sought to develop the Plaza property, which they purchased in 1983.
“That said, I still understand why people would want a say in the evolution of their downtown, particularly at three of the four most important corners of the town,” Winkler said.
As if the gumbo that was Del Mar politics wasn’t already rich enough, the pot was stirred further by changes on the City Council.
“The council included Nancy Hoover and when the J. David (Dominelli) revelations came out, Hoover and the entire council pretty much got thrown out,” Winkler said. The Hoover group was replaced by a new group, including Scott Barnett, Ronnie Delaney and Lou Hopkins.
This group was thought by many to be friendlier to development.
“So we thought the new council, those who were in office, were also in power, which seemed like a logical conclusion,” Winkler said. “But that was not the case. The people who were in power were not in office; it was still the folks thinking more along the lines of Hoover and much less development oriented.”
Eventually, the debate turned personal.
“I never saw anything like it,” Winkler said. “They referred to us as ‘alien developers’ when we lived in Cardiff. It was like we came from the moon, or Texas,” he said.
Winkler and Gayler were even accused of connections to organized crime.
“My favorite banner was ‘Keep Mafia Money Out of Del Mar.’ Our investors consisted of nothing more than friends and family, so that was fairly remarkable,” Winkler said.
Editor’s note: This article, written by Richard Arcello, is reprinted from the “Del Mar Picture Book,” published by Joe Jelley. Contact him at