Garden Del Mar slated for November election

By Dave Druker

Mayor, city of Del Mar

Over the past two years, this column has given you the status of the Garden Del Mar project, proposed at the southeast corner of Camino del Mar and 10th Street. The project has undergone a rigorous review by a citizen’s committee, by the Planning Commission, the Design Review Board and the City Council. On August 4, the council voted unanimously to approve the Garden Del Mar Specific Plan.

The specific plan was prepared because the size of the project triggered the requirements of a City Ordinance - Measure B. Measure B, enacted by Del Mar’s voters in 1986, is intended to ensure that larger projects in the city’s commercial core are appropriately designed and carry out the policies of our Community Plan. One of the unique aspects of Measure B is that it requires that a Specific Plan like Garden Del Mar be subject to a vote of the public. Measure B was last used in the late 1980s when the voters approved the Del Mar Plaza and Inn L'Auberge projects.

When the City Council adopted the Garden Del Mar Specific Plan on August 4, it did so with the caveat that the approval would not be valid unless the Del Mar voters approve the Specific Plan at the Nov. 4, 2008 General Election.

Garden Del Mar is a mixed-use project with 19,600 sq. ft. of space in six two-story structures in three rows parallel to Camino del Mar. The project’s mix of uses includes: 1) a full-scale restaurant and a smaller cafe along the first floor’s Camino del Mar frontage; 2) an area devoted to retail use; and 3) 39 small condominium type office spaces situated in the two eastern rows of the structures and above the restaurant area. Three public plaza areas are proposed. The buildings would be situated above two levels of below-grade parking. A copy of the project plans can be seen at City Hall, on the city’s Web site (

) and at the project site.

The project’s floor area ratio (FAR) is proposed at 77 percent, higher than the 45 percent FAR that would otherwise be allowed. Measure B allows for increased development if that increase is offset by “exceptional public benefits” (EPBs). These EPBs are guaranteed components of the development that benefit the community. In the case of the Garden Del Mar Project, the following EPBs are proposed:

  1. A monthly contribution of $35 to the city’s Housing Assistance Fund from each of the 43 units of the project for a period of 30 years.
  2. Modification of the originally proposed office project to include restaurant and retail components.
  3. Dedication of three public plaza areas.
  4. Provision of extra parking spaces for public use.
  5. A monetary contribution from the proceeds of a pay-parking program in the site’s underground garage, or a $250,000 ($50,000 for five years) contribution to the city that will be earmarked for public park improvements.
  6. Creation of an energy-efficient, environmentally conscious project.

The review process for the Garden Del Mar project included some 70 public meetings and a great deal of input from the community. That input resulted in changes to the project and neighborhood protections.
The Garden Del Mar will be the first major commercial development in the downtown area in nearly 20 years. While this project cannot alone serve as the anchor for redevelopment of the downtown, it will be a major boon for vitalizing the southern end of downtown.

As the Nov. 4 election approaches, you will no doubt hear about and receive information on Proposition G. I urge you to review the information carefully. Ask questions of your neighbors, city staff, members of the City Council or the many citizens who participated in the public hearings.