New planning tool for revitalizing town


By Richard Earnest

Mayor, Del Mar

On June 14 the City Council will hear the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Form Based Code Advisory Committee. The committee, established by the City Council early in 2009, has held 25 public meetings since May 2009. The committee has now completed its work on the development of a form based code for Del Mar’s Downtown and members are ready to present their ideas to the broader community.

Form based codes are a planning tool that can be used to guide redevelopment of the city’s commercial downtown village consistent with the goals and objectives already identified in Del Mar’s Community Plan.

Form based codes are a relatively new approach to zoning that allow cities to master plan commercial districts based on the physical forms desired for the buildings, pedestrian corridors, street systems, streetscapes and public spaces. The codes can be designed with various factors in mind, such as view protection, pedestrian mobility and traffic, while replacing more typical zoning codes that are based on formulas that are traditionally used in the suburbs.

In Del Mar’s case, the use of the more traditional zoning code formulas has not resulted in the dynamic, economically viable, pedestrian-oriented commercial village that was originally envisioned in our Community Plan.

At the council meeting, the Ad Hoc Committee will present a series of distinct alternatives for changes to the existing zoning. These changes are designed to implement the Community Plan and are largely based on previous planning studies including Del Mar 2000, the City Hall studies and the CLUE report.

Pending the council’s concurrence, the planning program for the form based code review will move to the public outreach portion of the process. It is envisioned that the next several months will be filled with a variety of community meetings in various venues, and will include the environmental review process. The results of the public outreach and environmental studies will be presented to the Planning Commission and City Council in the spring of 2011 for the final deliberation on the planning regulations.

Come to the council meeting and see the culmination of a lot of creative work by the Ad Hoc Committee. The council wants to hear from you. Your input is important as the city moves toward considering changes that will allow and encourage its property owners in the downtown Village to upgrade and enhance their buildings and at the same time revitalize the Del Mar Village.