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Promises Made - Promises Delayed: Our Community Plan
March 2009 | Bud Emerson, Klish

A small shopping center at the corner of 15th and Camino Del Mar, where today's Plaza is located.  1963.  Courtesy Del Mar Historical Society. 

Del Mar’s constitution, our Community Plan, has guided our development quite well for more than 30 years. One element, however, is a long way from implementation: our downtown center. Once again we are initiating a new approach to revitalizing our downtown. It should be instructive to examine what these Community Plan visionaries saw in the 70’s, focusing “major retail and office activity into one economically viable, pedestrian oriented and attractive area that serves the needs of both Del Mar residents and visitors, and is well integrated into the residential fabric of the community.” A companion goal is to “preserve the economic integrity of the community.” These goals are fortified in the Plan by a number of objectives and policies--consider these excerpts from the Community Plan:

  • discourage high speed traffic along city streets
  • redesign Camino Del Mar to improve its appearance as a scenic coastal route and accommodate low-speed vehicular traffic
  • improve ... pedestrian crossings
  • change Camino Del Mar back to a residential street
  • add such amenities as landscaping and benches
  • adopt controls to prevent future commercial deve
  • opment which is incompatible with the desired residential character of the community
  • discourage...commercial activity...detrimental to the livability of adjacent residential streets
  • convert Del Mar Lane between 13th & 15th streets into a pedestrian mall
  • promote those uses of the commercial area which will be of greatest economic benefit to the community
  • create a mixture of residential and commercial uses
  • encourage small individually-owned shops
  • discourage unusually large single purpose businesses, franchise operations
  • commercial activity compatible with the intellectual, social, and material needs of the community
  • discourage office use
  • although appropriate business expansion can help to offset rising city costs and provide needed goods and services to the community, development beyond a certain point would materially damage Del Mar’s natural environment and small town residential character
  • architectural solutions should strive for an informal feeling, utilizing non-massive shapes, pitched roofs and preserving ocean views and an atmosphere of open space
  • reduce Camino Del Mar to one travel lane in each direction...utilize a portion of the existing paving width to provide additional landscaping and parking...walkways on each side of the street
  • five foot walkways for pedestrian traffic, textured walking surfaces with low level lighting
  • create visual barriers through landscaping and the reduction to two lanes

This is the exciting vision we promised ourselves 3 decades ago! A community that has a real village center that works and that complements our residential character. Our 30 year report card would not be one to take home to Mom. Can we can get it right this time?

Historical Photos: Many of the historical pictures on these pages are included in a slim volume that can be bought online from the Del Mar Historical Society: "Discovering Del Mar's Past." Click here.

   
 

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