Del Mar council opts against City Hall advisory committee, creates community forums

By Kristina Houck

In favor of a more direct approach to community involvement in the City Hall project, the Del Mar City Council decided not to establish an advisory committee.

During the April 7 council meeting, staff outlined the benefits of having a committee advise the council on the decision, design and implementation process, but ultimately, council members decided it would be more beneficial to hear directly from their constituents.

“To me, the core issue is whether you want this committee to interface with the residents or you want to directly meet with the residents and hear all the ideas,” said Councilman Don Mosier. “It means a lot more time commitment and a lot more work for the council … but I’d rather have the unfiltered intake.”

Del Mar is moving forward with plans to build a new City Hall to replace the city’s current facilities at 1050 Camino Del Mar. Since the council approved a draft schedule outlining the project’s next steps in March, presentations and discussions have occurred at every council meeting and will continue to take place at every meeting through June 16, when the council could make some decisions on the project.

Throughout this process, the council said it would actively engage the community.

The city held a community workshop on Dec. 2 so community members could weigh in on what amenities a new civic center should offer, where offices should be located and how the project should be financed. The city also distributed a City Hall survey to residents, property owners and business owners in January.

Council members decided they preferred to continue directly communicating with the public rather than forming an advisory committee and assigning council liaisons to the committee.

“I would rather have us directly involved, hear community input, get our hands dirty into all the various ideas and communicate both ways with the community,” said Councilman Terry Sinnott.

“I think this would be a really efficient and powerful way to go to the community and make a statement,” said Councilwoman Sherryl Parks.

To further encourage discussion, the council also decided to set aside time at future council meetings for community input on the project.

Beginning at the next council meeting on April 21, community members will have the opportunity to express their ideas during an open forum starting at 6:30 p.m., which will take place at every council meeting through June 16. Members of the public have up to 10 minutes to make presentations, with the overall forum not to exceed one half-hour.

In addition, Mayor Lee Haydu suggested all City Hall-related items appear earlier on the council agenda. The advisory committee item was introduced close to the end of the nearly three-and-a-half-hour-long meeting. Therefore, all City Hall-related items will be introduced after the open forum at future meetings.