Evolving Village Specific Plan

My column last week describing a series of thresholds and triggers is already out of date. Some significant changes in the downtown revitalization draft were made by the Del Mar City Council just a few days ago. The net effect is less development and more controls in the Village Specific Plan (VSP).

•Lowering the amount of new development from 300,000 square feet to 200,000.

(Some citizens are proposing to drop even another 100,000 square feet.)

•Lowering the threshold point for a reassessment of the plan from every 100,000 square feet to 70,000.

•Agreeing to require erection of a new parking structure before any new development begins.

•Implementing diversion and calming installations on neighboring streets at the same time that roundabouts and lane narrowing are implemented on CDM.

•Adding a city-wide parking plan to the VSP.

These and other changes recommended by the Planning Commission will appear in the next draft scheduled to be reviewed at the City Council retreat on July 30. Then the final draft will be on the Council agenda on Aug. 6, which is the deadline for placing the VSP on the November ballot. If the Council approves the VSP as a ballot measure, no further changes can be made to the plan. Voters in November will decide “Yes” or “No” on this 30-year plan.

Another idea being floated is to break the plan into two phases, with the second phase going back to the voters after we have had a chance to experience the portion of new development in the first phase.

Some citizens are asking the Council to keep the process open for a few more months, skip the November ballot, consider more suggested changes, give the community more time to digest the changes, and work to build a strong consensus. The idea would be to hold a Del Mar-only special election next spring when nothing else is on the ballot competing for voter attention.

A few more months seems like a good investment for getting it right for 30 more years.