Looking at the past for our future


By Dave Druker

Mayor of Del Mar

At the next Del Mar City Council meeting on Monday, Sept. 22, Brian Mooney, the city’s interim planning director, will be presenting a strategy to begin the planning process for a Downtown Specific Plan.

Brian has spent the past month reviewing numerous previous plans, including our community plan, the Camino del Mar Streetscape plan, the Del Mar 2000 plan, the Parking Master plan, the CityWorks plan, the Civic Center plan and the recent C.L.U.E. study. The review of these plans and studies and meeting with community leaders has been critical for Brian to understand the planning visions that have been historically identified with the community. To create a planning strategy that will work for the future, we first must look at the past.

A specific plan is a tool for implementing a general plan that brings together detailed policies and regulations into a focused development scheme and area. The specific plan will be based on the city’s long-term vision for its downtown and will include a comprehensive set of incentives, standards, and guidelines that work together to realize the vision. This planning program will address land use, urban design, pedestrian and traffic circulation, green building concepts, environmental issues, view corridors, economic viability and parking.

The specific plan process has previously been used with individual projects such as L’Auberge, Del Mar Plaza and, most recently, the Garden Del Mar project. The specific planning program will be more comprehensive than a project-by-project plan; yet will still comply with state law requiring consistency with the vision established in the community plan. Currently, the area to be studied is anticipated to focus on the areas along Camino del Mar and 15th Street that fall within the Central Commercial, Public Facility and Visitor Commercial zones. However, connection to other key activity areas, such as the 22nd District Agricultural District and the North Beach area will also be studied.

The specific plan is also envisioned to contain elements of a new planning tool known as form based code. This tool will allow the plan to explore design options on both a district and block-by-block basis. The form based code process includes extensive public participation on the development of design principles.

This new downtown specific plan will require lots of community input, with eventual review by the Planning Commission, Design Review Board and the City Council. It will also require an environmental impact report (EIR) and a vote by citizens prior to be finalized. The recent Garden Del Mar Project encompassed approximately 60 meetings and took over one-and-a-half years.

It is an exciting time in Del Mar and we all are looking forward to a planning strategy that is both creative and comprehensive in approach to creating a revitalized village center that reflects the values and goals of the residents, property owners and business owners.