At the request of the Del Mar City Council, our city staff has assembled a comprehensive amount of information on our city’s facilities needs with the intent of selecting a replacement site for our derelict City Hall. There are only two options: build on the city-owned site at 1050 Camino Del Mar or purchase an unspecified existing commercial building offsite.
This leads to a reflection on what the Camino Del Mar site represents for our community. The site is at the present time the location of our administrative offices and the TV studio, seat of our City Council. Built in 1984, the studio also provides the Council with a recently remodeled meeting room for its closed sessions. Only the administrative building is in urgent need of replacement.
What has gone unmentioned is an analysis of the many other, transient activities which take place on the Camino Del Mar site. These activities actually make of the site the modern equivalent of the medieval “commons.” Old village communities in England used the word “commons” to characterize lands held in common, thrown open to members of the community for their temporary private uses: at that time sheep grazing, feed for cattle, wood for repairs. Today, as in the medieval commons, the land belongs to one entity, our City, but other entities can use it temporarily for their profit. In the past, the library held annual fundraisers to benefit the County Library. Today the Farmers Market board operates a market which profits the merchants selling their produce and benefits the members of our community. Coast Waste management holds collection events for recyclables. We hold meetings of civic groups. We park our cars there for free. It is our “commons.”
By purchasing an existing commercial building all these functions would be orphaned. We would buy land when we already have much vacant land that we own in full. We would vacate a lot in the middle of our City with an uncertain development future. Chances are very good that the site will remain vacant for a very long time as the Jefferson and Gas Station lots are.
The Council has now forwarded the City Hall matter to the Finance Committee. No doubt the Finance Committee will let us know the price of everything but perhaps not the value of the property.