Neighboring Del Mar residents oppose development of Hidden Pines Road property

By Kristina Houck

Del Mar may sell a vacant, city-owned parcel, but neighbors contend that the property shouldn’t be developed.

Located on Hidden Pines Road, the land was formerly used as a water pump site. The Del Mar City Council on March 18, 2013 adopted a resolution with the intent to sell the land, and the Planning Commission on Jan. 14 declared the parcel in conformance with the city’s general plan. But neighbors located on each side of the 25-foot-wide, 127-foot-long space argue the plot is too small for development.

“I think it should be sold, but not for development,” said Clive Freeman, who owns a home that borders the western side of the parcel. “It’s far from what’s normal for this area.”

The property was mapped in 1947, but the city’s zoning code was established in the 1976 Del Mar Community Plan. Therefore, the 3,170-square-foot plot is located in a zone for single-family residential development where lots must be a minimum of 10,000 square feet.

“It’s a non-conforming parcel; however, many of the parcels in that zoning area are non-conforming,” said Assistant City Manager Mark Delin. “You can’t create a new parcel of less than 10,000 square feet; but if the parcel already existed, then it’s kind of grandfathered in.”

Although it is buildable land, bordering neighbors hope the parcel will not be developed. They, along with several surrounding community members, argued that the land should remain undeveloped open space during the Jan. 14 Planning Commission meeting.

Delin noted the council could designate the property as open space, but the land cannot be rezoned.

“Spot zoning, which is creating a separate zone for a particular parcel, is not legal so it would not be possible to zone that to be open space in the middle of a residential area,” Delin said.

Currently, the city is moving forward with a preliminary title report and appraisal, which is estimated to cost $3,400.

The value of the land has not yet been determined, but Carmel Valley residents Pieter van Rooyen and Rita van Rooyen have already made an offer. The couple purchased the currently undeveloped land bordering the eastern side of the parcel in 2012.

If they purchase the city-owned property, Rita van Rooyen said she and her husband would not change the plans for their yet-to-be-built home and would keep the plot as open space.

“We’ve spent all the time and money to do this respectfully, according to these plans, and now we’re facing this dilemma that we might end up having a property right in front of us that might be following very different rules,” she said.

“The only sensible buyer for this piece of land is either Clive or us. For the city to declare this as buildable land, it almost looks like they’re holding us hostage to buying it at a very high price where we are determined not to build on it.”

City staff will bring the issue before the council again once the appraisal is completed.