Del Mar increases budget to meet staffing demands

By Claire Harlin

City of Del Mar staff members have had their hands full lately. Not only do they have three huge one-time projects in the works, but there has been a significant upswing in Design Review Board activity, including triple the number of appeals from last year.

“People are finding lending is starting to relax and the economy is turning around, or maybe they have decided not to sell but to remodel,” said Kathleen Garcia, the city’s planning and community development director.

This fiscal year to date — which includes five months of data — there have been 15 DRB cases so far, and that’s in comparison to last year’s 20 for the entire year.

To keep up with the intensive staff time required of DRB permit cases, the City Council on Dec. 12 amended the 2011-12 and 2012-13 budgets to allow for more staffing and possibly outside consulting services. The council upped the budget by $50,500 for this year and $35,400 for next year.

In addition to the ongoing Housing Element and Village Specific Plan (revitalization), the council recently took on a new assignment: the Local Coastal Program Amendment and Community Plan Amendment (LCPA/CPA). This project, designed to include a development vision for the Del Mar Fairgrounds in the city’s community plan, not only includes drafting amendments for local zoning and development codes, but also conducting a series of public meetings between a number of regional stakeholders.

Much of the Housing Element, which was initiated by the council on Nov. 7 and anticipated to be completed by April 2013, is being completed by outside consultants, but research, management and policy must still be handled by city staff. This project will identify and assess all areas of housing-related data in Del Mar, such as constraints, needs and future goals.