Del Mar to begin master plan process for Shores property

By Kristina Houck

More than six years after deciding to purchase Del Mar Shores Park, the Del Mar City Council is moving forward with a plan for the site.

In a 3-2 vote, council members on Nov. 18 directed staff to issue a request for proposals and hire a consultant to produce a park master plan.

“I think it’s about time we did it,” Councilman Al Corti said. “I’m in favor of moving this as fast as we can.”

A master plan for the Shores property is just one of the council’s priorities. Council members and city staff reviewed more than two dozen priorities for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 fiscal years during a special meeting and workshop on Sept. 9.

Council members agreed that building a new City Hall is a top priority, but disagreed on how to rank other priorities. Some council members suggested postponing the creation of a master plan for the Shores property to allow more time for other tasks.

“That’s not my highest priority,” said Councilman Don Mosier, who voted against staff direction, along with Deputy Mayor Lee Haydu.

Concerned about overworking staff even with the help of a consultant, Haydu encouraged her colleagues to rearrange priorities.

“We can’t do everything,” she said. “If we want to start looking at this, we have to push something else out.”

The council voted in August 2007 to purchase the $8.5 million property from the school district, with the intent to preserve current open space and recreational uses, continue operation of Winston School, and initiate a master plan process. The long-range plan will guide the development of the 5.3-acre park along Camino del Mar.

Located on 1.8 acres of leased land, Winston School is also undertaking a school master plan.

A provision in the school’s lease, which is through 2063, allows non-exclusive use of the ball fields and south parking lot, subject to the city’s rights. The lease also stipulates redevelopment of the school site, with the first deadline to complete a development application on or before Dec. 31, 2019. The school has hired San Diego-based HMC Architects to prepare a needs assessment.

Del Mar resident and Winston School teacher Linda Castile urged the council to move forward with the planning process.

On behalf of the Friends of Del Mar Parks, resident Joe Sullivan also asked the council to make the plan a top priority.

“We’re really eager for the city to move along on the planning,” said Sullivan, president of the Friends, a nonprofit that helped raise funds to acquire Del Mar Shores Park. “We know that you’ve sat through many, many meetings on the uses of this property. I think the faster the process begins, the easier it will be for the community to understand that there is a place for them to go to say what it is they want to happen there.”

With the help of a consultant, staff expects the process to take 12-18 months. If staff led the project, the process would have taken 18-24 months, said Kathleen Garcia, planning and community development director.

The process is estimated to cost between $145,000 and $270,000, with consultant fees ranging from $85,000 to $100,000, and environmental assessment costs ranging from $60,000 and $170,000.

“I can see the stars are all aligned,” Councilwoman Sherryl Parks said. “It’s sort of a magic time to get this moving.”

“I recognize Lee’s concern about staff time and resources, but I also think that this is an important opportunity to coordinate what the city is planning with what Winston School is planning,” Mayor Terry Sinnott said.