Bull Taco to open in Del Mar

By Kristina Houck

A popular taco shop is headed to Del Mar.

Plans for a downtown Bull Taco will move forward after the Del Mar City Council declined to set an appeal for a de novo public hearing regarding the applicant’s participation in Del Mar’s in-lieu parking fee program.

Because the proposed restaurant site was previously used as office space, Adam Birnbaum, the city’s planning manager, explained a change from office to restaurant is an “intensification of use,” which triggers a requirement for more parking.

George Conkwright, the owner of the building at 1201 Camino del Mar, had several options to satisfy the parking requirement, including valet parking, shared parking, off-site parking and in-lieu fees, which is paid to the city for use in constructing public parking.

In March, he applied for the city’s in-lieu parking fee program, which staff approved.

The full fee of $30,000 per stall is required up front for new projects or major remodels, but existing owners who want to expand or change their business use are allowed to make $1,000 annual payments per stall.

At $1,000 per space, Conkwright’s 17 spaces will bring the city $17,000 in revenue per year.

“We all know Del Mar has a parking problem, but I didn’t create that problem,” Conkwright said. “I’ve agreed to pay $17,000 a year in in-lieu parking fees toward finding a solution to your parking problems. … I would think that people ought to write me thank you letters for paying $17,000 a year to solve your parking problems.”

Appealing the decision, Del Mar resident Ralph Peck Jr. requested the City Council set the matter for a de nova public hearing at a later date. In his appeal, Peck claimed a restaurant in that space would be inconsistent with the community plan and that the number of required parking spaces had been miscalculated, among other concerns.

Concerned about restaurant customers parking in residential neighborhoods, resident Mark Stuckelman also urged the council to grant a public hearing.

“The in-lieu process does not give community neighbors a chance to give you input,” Stuckelman said. “I think you need to hear that input from neighbors.

“We do support restaurants. We’d like to see a restaurant in that building; we just want to make sure it has sufficient onsite parking.”

Two council members would have had to agree to call a public hearing. No member from the council made a motion. Mayor Lee Haydu was absent from the meeting.

“The town needs to be revitalized,” said Greg Glassman, who owns Zel’s Del Mar at 1247 Camino del Mar. “I’m in support of doing things that are going to bring new businesses and new life into the town.”

Bull Taco has locations in Cardiff by the Sea, Encinitas, Oceanside and San Clemente.

Greg Lukasiewicz, owner of Bull Taco, said food will be prepared at the Oceanside location and reheated at the Del Mar site, which is 800 square feet of enclosed space, along with an adjacent 550-square-foot deck. Hours of operation will be from 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

“We will be a business that you will be proud of in Del Mar,” Lukasiewicz said. “You’ll be happy to have us in your community.”