Don’t let Del Mar decline, vote ‘Yes’ on Prop J

Most people agree that downtown Del Mar needs revitalizing. Decaying buildings, overgrown empty lots, and few resident-serving shops as well as competition from revitalized neighbor cities mean continued decline for Del Mar unless something is done. Even the Plaza on a Friday night is less vibrant now than years past and certainly when compared to Del Mar Highlands or downtown Encinitas. Most people agree that change is necessary, so why the strident opposition to Prop. J?

Some people are afraid of change, no matter what it is. Recall the opposition to the Plaza, the L’Auberge and the sidewalk cafés that have actually re-invigorated 15th Street. Many people like elements of the Village Specific Plan, such as wider sidewalks and small residences downtown, but many are afraid that the one lane and roundabout configuration will drive people down bypass streets. That is a reasonable concern and the city has listened and agreed to put aside $100,000 for future traffic mitigation on these streets, should it be needed. However, traffic engineers have reported that the roundabouts significantly increase the efficiency of traffic flow so people are less likely to go down side streets looking for a short cut. The city should assure residents on side streets that if Prop J passes and traffic becomes more of a problem, they will address it.

Still other people are opposed to Prop J because they claim their input was not solicited and that it is a “top down” measure, yet the city conducted 90 meetings with residents to obtain their feedback. Why didn’t more of those who are opposed participate in these meetings? It may be because people in Del Mar are so used to meetings that don’t go anywhere, that they only mobilized when it became clear something might finally change. Those who did participate were listened to, and the city responded, in writing, to all written comments, with many changes incorporated in the final plan. Some of the changes included reducing total development potential and adding development thresholds.

Some people are opposed to Prop J because they claim the measure will do nothing to promote redevelopment because it is too restrictive and yet others claim the exact opposite, that it will promote rampant over-development. How can both be true?

It appears that a fear of change is leading people to distort the facts. For the Village Specific Plan to be adopted, the city had to complete an environmental impact report. The alternative with one lane and roundabouts was recommended because it offers a proven solution that supports higher traffic volume with less air and noise pollution and better pedestrian safety. This is necessary because the city needs to mitigate existing traffic problems as well as those which may arise from Prop J.

If Prop J fails, nothing will happen in Del Mar for years because most of those who have spent untold hours on this project will give up. Del Mar will slowly decline. Sales and business tax revenue will drop, property taxes, which are declining for the first time, will continue their decline, buildings will continue to deteriorate and empty lots will remain. Once downtowns decline, residential property values typically follow. It’s your choice. Get the facts and don’t let fear drive your decision.

Richard Levak,

Del Mar