Del Mar moves forward with creation of development vision for fairgrounds

By Claire Harlin

Stressing the importance of both public participation and the input of regional stakeholders, the Del Mar City Council voted on Dec. 12 to move forward with the drafting of amendments to the city’s long-term community plans, which would outline goals and development parameters for the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

The city’s Master Plan includes little about the future of the fairgrounds, as regional or city control of the state-owned asset was considered unlikely when it was last revised in the 1970s. But if Del Mar pursues its own Local Coastal Program Amendment (LCPA) and the California Coastal Commission (CCC) — the final authority on development projects — approves it, then the LCPA would become the standard used by the CCC in its review process.

The set of amendments will also include modifications to the city’s zoning code.

The plan of action presented by city planner Adam Birnbaum would involve input from the already-established Fairgrounds Master Plan Committee, as well as two new committees with regional representation. The Master Plan Committee, referred to as the ad-hoc committee in regard to this project, consists of 10 Del Mar citizens who were appointed by the council. This ad hoc committee will started the LCPA process by creating a list of issues and factors to be considered in establishing the city’s vision for the fairgrounds.

Next, a steering committee of stakeholders will take four or five meetings to craft policy language to address issues raised by the ad-hoc committee. This steering committee will be composed of representatives from: Solana Beach, the City of San Diego, San Diego County, the 22nd District Agricultural Association, the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority, The State Lands Commission, San Diego Association of Governments, the ad-hoc committee chair and a Del Mar staff member.

Next, a policy advisory committee will review the draft language, making recommendations and modifications. The incoming Del Mar mayor will like oversee this committee, according to a city report.

Once amendments are drafted, they will be subject to review by the Del Mar Planning Commission, the City Council and the CCC.

Birnbaum said all meetings will be conducted publicly, with notices sent out to residents.

Deputy Mayor Terry Sinnott applauded the council and staff for encouraging and including participation stakeholders in the action plan, as it has “a regional backbone to it,” he said.

When asked by Councilwoman Lee Haydu how long the entire process will take, Birnbaum replied, “the better part of a year.”

“I dread calendaring some of these meetings, but it’s a regional asset and it’s important to do so,” he said.

Mayor Carl Hilliard said following these steps that allow public testimony and regional input will help Del Mar in avoiding criticism by the state and others in the region in the future.

Haydu said she is glad the city is finally moving forward with the LCPA.

By bringing in other people in the region,” she said, “others can buy into this even though it’s in our part of the county.”

For more about the LCPA or to read the city’s staff report on the plan, visit