Don’t let Del Mar decline because of fear of the unknown

Several residents have expressed concern about the Specific Plan’s proposed 26’ height limit on the west side of Camino Del Mar. We all need to start visualizing what this change will and will not look like. Many of you may not be aware that a number of our existing buildings are already over that limit and, surprisingly, are some of our most appealing buildings. Stratford Square (at 42’ well over the proposed height), Bill Davidson’s gas station property at the corner of 13th St and Camino del Mar (24’) and Cafe Secret, (26’) are all examples. Retaining the existing height limit, on the other hand, will continue to result in short square boxes that lack architectural appeal (see examples at right).

let-del-mar-1Having two story buildings on both sides of the street won’t create a wind tunnel effect nor a shaded walking experience! The street, with a total of 100’ span from edge to edge, has ample width for this building height to be proportionate.

Please take a look at your favorite communities and you will note that their building heights are greater than single story.

In addition, limiting the building height to 14’ will impact our objective of stimulating investment in our downtown. Property owners won’t improve their properties because, very simply, they will have no economic incentive to do so. It will be impossible to achieve the size (FAR) needed for investment to make sense with a single story. We will have spent a great deal of time and money on a plan that will change nothing.

let-del-mar-2As we identify concerns about the Specific Plan, let’s consider the status quo. Our downtown is decaying, particularly on the southern end of town, while increasing competition from neighboring communities is drawing away business from our downtown. The resulting declining sales and property tax revenues impact the services the city is able to provide, and ultimately has the potential to threaten the city’s viability. Equally important, we all benefit from a downtown that is a thriving place to eat, shop and play. As you are reading this, we don’t have walkable sidewalks downtown, our traffic flow doesn’t work, our City Hall is an embarrassment and we haven’t yet been able to implement our 15-year-old Streetscape Plan.

Only through changing our existing regulations in a meaningful way can we encourage investment in our community. Let’s not watch Del Mar continue its inexorable decline because of our fear of the unknown! The outdoor patios are a great example of our taking a chance and having a wonderful outcome. Please support the Specific Plan so we can truly make our downtown our “living room.”

Linda Rock


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