New ownership brings new possibilities —Hope springs eternal

By Gordon Clanton

The new owners of the Del Mar Heights Village shopping center (on Del Mar Heights Road at Mango Drive) circulated a questionnaire that purported to gather community input regarding the future of the center. Apparently I have lost my copy of the questionnaire.

Nevertheless, based on what I have seen happen when other shopping centers were bought and sold, I have the following neighborly suggestions for the new owners, Donahue Schriber, a real estate investment firm that owns and manages 74 shopping centers in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington — including the Del Mar Highlands Town Center in Carmel Valley.

(1) Don’t raise rents so that well-established, family-owned, local-serving businesses are driven out.

New owners usually borrow lots of money to buy a shopping center, so they raise lease rates. Sometimes they also “re-measure” the space and determine that it is larger than previously believed, thus justifying additional rent increases. New owners often assess business owners for alleged “improvements.” Because centers usually sell for more than their previously assessed value, business owners typically face substantial property tax increases. This financial quadruple-whammy is more than many small businesses can survive. Most cannot raise the price of their product or service in order to cover the increased costs.

(2) Don’t build additional buildings in the parking lot. This would result in a shortage of parking and a worsening of traffic congestion. I avoid shopping centers where I cannot park easily.

(3) Don’t make parking spaces any narrower. I avoid shopping centers with spaces so narrow that I cannot park without risking dings.

(4) Don’t make it any harder to get into or out of the center. I mention this because of the maddening circulation patterns at Donahue Schriber’s other nearby property, Del Mar Highlands Town Center. For example, I can easily access my bank, which is near the Del Mar Heights Road entrance to the center. But to get


of the center, because of various barriers and one-way passages, I must drive through the congested parking lot into the heavy traffic in front of the Ralphs supermarket and then break into a never-ending parade of cars that moves, very slowly, toward the exit.

Best plan for Del Mar Heights Village: No major expansion. No reduction of parking. No additional congestion. And find a tenant for the long-vacant Del Mar Diner

Gordon Clanton teaches Sociology at San Diego State University.

He welcomes comments at