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October 2010 home page

  Meet the Candidates

A New Beginning for City Council
Sherryl Parks | Kalamath Drive

Lee Haydu
Photo Paul Haydu
Courtesy Haydu Campaign

 

Terry Sinnott and Kai
Photo Sean Apshaw 
www.resolusean.com
Courtesy Sinnott Campaign

Below are the questions Sherryl Parks asked in her interview. 
Click to find the candidates' answers.

1. Some citizens say CC isn’t responsive to involving community and neglects to inform the public on important decisions in planning (“Just do it”). How will you deal with community involvement? Please be specific.   ANSWERS

2. Some think the present council treats advisory committees in a dismissive way, and/or staff employees who set agendas and dominate at meetings dominate those advisory committees. How do you see it?  ANSWERS

3. Five families own major properties at pre Prop 13 levels and don’t want to make improvements that would boost them into higher tax brackets. How can we break this logjam?  ANSWERS

4. Please comment on the state of disrepair and limited size of our City Hall. Should we move city hall to shores or perhaps lease out city hall property for a higher commercial income? What other ideas will you offer for City Hall?  ANSWERS

5. What is your position on Interstate 5 expansion?  ANSWERS

6. Notice all the empty spaces downtown? Should DMVA take an active direction to find retail rental, as did Peter Norby in Encinitas? Are rents in DM really that outrageous?  ANSWERS

7. Please comment on city finances.  ANSWERS

8. Is the CC over extended in regional committees and not focused on DM with the many demands in town?  ANSWERS

9. Do you agree with sale of the lot on Balboa? What price is sufficient?  ANSWERS

 

Henry Abarbanel at a Garden Party for Lee Haydu
Photo John Kerridge


1. Some citizens say CC isn’t responsive to involving community and neglects to inform the public on important decisions in planning (“Just do it”). How will you deal with community involvement? Please be specific.  top

Haydu: I plan to initiate a vigorous community outreach program promoting two-way communication and energizing citizen involvement on our boards and commissions.
I will work to have the council reinstate the preliminary agenda which gave residents advance notice of items that would appear on the next council agenda enabling the public to address issues in a timely manner. I will always be available to listen to citizens’ concerns and ensure that they are heard at the council.

Please give readers some specific examples of how citizens could become more involved in current issues.

Haydu:  City Council needs to create opportunities for neighborhood meetings so residents can become more familiar with our City’s issues. Residents also should take advantage of attending meetings like those now taking place on the issue of widening I-5. I am thinking of keeping my campaign website up and running to keep communication with our residents. I am negotiating with Dave Druker to see if I can use his table at farmer’s market as well! (Councilmen Druker routinely sat at a table at the farmer’s market fielding questions and swapping stories with residents).

Sinnott: Our community has always benefited from active and engaged citizen input on important issues. I will ensure that this tradition continues. But the dialogue between City Council and citizens needs to expand beyond public hearings and the requirements of the Brown Act. I will encourage the Council to “over- communicate” using all available means. I will encourage the City Council members and staff to resume regular small neighborhood meetings to discuss City issues and get feedback from residents. When it comes to important issues, there is nothing better than face-to-face meetings where you listen carefully to what people have to say.

Will you be able to get all five city councilmen involved with neighborhood meetings? How will you make that happen?

Sinnott: All members of the council need to routinely get out into the neighborhoods. If there is an important issue coming up perhaps a councilman and staff person can take a “traveling road show” to residents and we can capture the concerns and gather good ideas from the public.  top

 

Mark Whitehead at Lee Haydu's kick-off
Photo John Kerridge


2. Some think the present council treats advisory committees in a dismissive way, and/or staff employees who set agendas and dominate at meetings dominate those advisory committees. How do you see it?  top

Haydu: Many long-standing, hard working committees are barely functioning because their membership has dwindled and little effort has been made to find new members. The council needs to take a leadership role in soliciting members from our wonderfully gifted community. The citizen advisory committees must be re-invigorated and their recommendations need to be given serious consideration when the council makes decisions that affect our community.

What practical things do propose to get more citizens involved on volunteer advisory committees?

Haydu: hope that I can keep my website up and residents can check out current news. Also I want to avoid losing good, talented residents who have an interest in serving on our advisory committees. I just found out that an applicant for an important City committee applied but didn’t hear back from anyone about the status of her application. We can’t drop the ball; someone needs to make sure talented people are brought into leadership roles.

I also think that we need to get our younger residents serving on advisory boards. We need them to get involved. The “old folk” have kept Del Mar thriving but it’s time to share the leadership.

Sinnott: I feel we do not use the Advisory Committees resources effectively. In order to attract talented people to work on these committees, we need to make sure their time is used efficiently, their recommendations are given due consideration, and their efforts are recognized. I would like to see the Council approve a committee “charter” each year defining the scope of work and the specific issues to be addressed by each committee during the year. Ask the committees to report back to the Council, and then give public recognition to committee members for their efforts. Above all, the Council must act on the recommendations, and not dismiss them without some response. With a better, clearer direction of each committee’s scope of work, the City staff should become a positive resource to committee members. top

 

Pamela Slater-Price and Hershell Price at Terry Sinnott's kick-off
Photo John Kerridge


3. Five families own major properties at pre Prop 13 levels and don’t want to make improvements that would boost them into higher tax brackets. How can we break this logjam?  top

Haydu: I think it is clear that we cannot force property owners to develop their property. I am sure that some would prefer to sell their property rather than develop and face higher taxes. These are market driven decisions and cannot and should not be forced upon property owners. I will work with DMVA to get the property owners involved in helping the community reinvigorate downtown.

How would you motivate both the DMVA as well as property owners to make changes?

Haydu: First, I would meet with as many property owners as I can and ask what improvements they might like to happen downtown. Then I would meet with residents combined with members of the DMVA to hear what they want. Perhaps a fresh face will open communication and new solutions will be found for improvements downtown.

Recently I met with some Garden Club friends and we talked about how residents might spruce up their own yards to make Del Mar an even more beautiful community. What would happen if we had a “plant swap”? There are so many great ideas out there in our City.

Sinnott: There are a more than four or five property owners in the circumstances described by the question, so it’s a bit more complicated. But the underlying challenge we must address to accomplish the needed revitalization of our Village center is to get the property owners engaged. To do that, we must provide some incentives or the owners will not have reason to make changes. These incentives can take the form of reducing risks of redevelopment, by making the application processes more predictable, and of increasing economic return, by making better sense of some of the archaic and unworkable zoning restrictions now in place. We need to employ some “Smart Growth” policies in our downtown to make it more pedestrian friendly and less focused on the automobile. We need to encourage village property owners to redevelop their property away from the “strip commercial” style of the 1940 and ‘50s. And we must ensure that these changes do not bring about unwanted impacts on the adjacent residential neighborhoods.

In your efforts to fix zoning restrictions and provide incentives to commercial owners what will happen to the design review process, which protects residential views?

Sinnott: The DRB should have oversight for the development of the Form Based Codes for the one or two block demonstration project. Residents would have plenty of opportunity to voice concerns when the FBCs for the two block area are drafted. The owner/developer then knows what the community wants and can then proceed to put detailed plans together that work within the FBC guidelines. The FBC demonstration project approach allows the community a chance to see how FBC zoning works in a limited area. If successful as a pilot project, we can then implement FBC zoning throughout the downtown.

Please give examples of “unreasonable zoning restrictions.”

Sinnott: Say the parking requirements for a downtown lot. Perhaps in lieu of having the parking space set aside on the property we might mitigate by having the owner put money into a fund set aside to offer a concentrated parking lot elsewhere in town.  top

 

Lee Haydu at her own kick-off
Photo John Kerridge

 

Terry Sinnot at his own kick-off
Photo John Kerridge



4. Please comment on the state of disrepair and limited size of our City Hall. Should we move city hall to shores or perhaps lease out city hall property for a higher commercial income? What other ideas will you offer for City Hall? top

Haydu: I realize that City Hall is in disrepair and I believe that the city employees need a better place to work. But with the economy as it is we will not have a new City Hall for years. When it is time to have a new City Hall, it is clear to me that the whole community should weigh in on the future location.

Sinnott: Our city offices should be housed in a safe and decent working environment. The current City Hall is substandard and should be replaced. The City Hall property is a valuable resource, and could be developed as a part of a master plan for the south end of town. Building city offices on the existing site may not be the best economic use of that property. I will encourage the City to plan for new city offices by considering alternatives and then focusing on those alternatives that make financial sense and are supported by the community. Planning for new city offices should be an opportunity to get wide involvement of residents.

Will you consider using a portion of the Shores property for a city hall site?

Sinnott: The first priority is to keep the open space and the park since we have such limited open space in the City. We need to remember that many who donated to buying the Shores wanted it to be used for open space or education. As for using it for an up-grade for the City Hall we need to have lots of citizen involvement. What is the best alternative and best financial use of that property?  top

 

Don Mosier at Lee Haydu's kick-off
Photo John Kerridge



5. What is your position on Interstate 5 expansion?  top

Haydu: In the past we have increased the number of lanes on I-5 and yet the congestion continues. We need to direct our resources and our efforts toward developing a viable public transportation system, which has been sorely lacking in the San Diego area.

Sinnott: CalTrans is proposing to widen of I-5 to accommodate the continuing population growth in San Diego County and expanded use for the I-5 corridor. I support widening of I-5 to respond to the growing regional population and more importantly, to reduce commuter traffic on Del Mar residential streets. But widening I-5 is only a temporary solution. A longer-term remedy to growing commuter traffic is to extend fast, light rail systems north along the I-5 corridor.  top

 

Bertha Leone at Terry Sinnott's kick-off
Photo John Kerridge



6. Notice all the empty spaces downtown? Should DMVA take an active direction to find retail rental, as did Peter Norby in Encinitas? Are rents in DM really that outrageous?  top

Haydu: DMVA should be taking a more active role in finding desirable, resident-serving retail stores for Del Mar as called out in our general plan.

Sinnott: I encourage DMVA to work with business and property owners to increase the attractiveness and demand for their products and services. Better storefronts, better operating hours, better movement of pedestrians in the Village, a shuttle bus from the Fairgrounds. …these are all ideas that would contribute to a more successful Village center. Successful businesses will attract other businesses to the Del Mar Village. From all accounts, Peder Norby’s efforts to attract new businesses to Encinitas appear to have been effective for that community. Perhaps the DMVA could find helpful ideas to apply here. But each community is different. What is right for one, may not work in another. We must remain conscious of what makes Del Mar such a uniquely desirable place for our residents and visitors, and not blindly copy practices from other communities.

Do you think the DMVA should be seeking out resident-serving businesses and help them negotiate with commercial property owners?

Sinnott: The vision in the Community Plan always encourages businesses which will work for residents. The DMVA should continue to provide activities and events that promote Del Mar. They also need to be expanding their “tool box” seeking out businesses that serve residents. Del Mar is a unique community that has a lot to offer business owners.  top

 

Bill Michalsky at a garden party for Lee Haydu
Photo John Kerridge



7. Please comment on city finances.  top

Haydu: It is impressive the Del Mar’s financial situation is the best in the region, but we need to be relentless in cutting expenses and achieving efficiencies in how we operate. I will scrutinize our budget and all decisions involving taxpayer funds to make certain we are getting the best bang for our buck.

Sinnott: The City has always been conservative in its budget and spending practices. Council and Staff are continually looking for ways to reduce costs. Their efforts have been largely successful. But I think we need to examine large, rapidly growing expense items over a longer time frame and find ways to reduce the City’s long-term exposure to these costs. We need to become proactive and to think “outside the box” to find ways of controlling major cost centers over the longer term. I would like to work with other cities in our region to address our long-term fire and police costs. The Council also should give priority to finding new sources of revenues, or mitigating costs of providing services, for our park and beach visitors. We must continue efforts to closely monitor the recovery of costs of services provided to the Fairgrounds and ensure that the City is adequately compensated. We are in difficult economic times, and we must exercise prudence and determination to conserve our very limited public resources.  top

Carol Kerridge and Mary Pat Whitehead at a garden party
for Lee Haydu.  Photo John Kerridge



8. Is the CC over extended in regional committees and not focused on DM with the many demands in town?  top

Haydu: That is hard to comment on until you are part of the City Council and you see what needs to be done. There is a fine balance that needs to be maintained between regional issues and DM issues. We are a small town in the center of this county and to survive we have to stay connected to all our neighbors who can influence the quality of our lives.

Sinnott: Regional decisions usually have a great impact on Del Mar. We need to protect our community’s interests by active involvement in the regional decision-making processes. But the amount of time and energy required can sometimes be unrealistic. We need to make sure we can adequately protect our community’s interests without overburdening the City Council’s available time and energy. Perhaps by increasing our reliance on citizen representatives when Council members become overburdened would be a workable solution.  top

 

Lee and Joel Holliday at a garden party for Lee Haydu
Photo John Kerridge




9. Do you agree with sale of the lot on Balboa? What price is sufficient?  top

Haydu: Whenever a city sells land that it owns we need to be cautious and certain that it is the appropriate action. It should never be done cavalierly. In this instance we had very few alternatives if we wanted to ensure the purchase of the Shores property.

The best possible scenario now would be that the sale of the lot results in enough money to retire our debt plus additional money to go toward improving our infrastructure.

Sinnott: I think it makes good financial sense to sell an un-used asset of the City and make those funds available for better purposes. Right now, the City is faced with a $3.5 million debt from the purchase of the Shores property. We cannot renege on this debt without damaging our City’s credit rating; we must find ways to repay it. The Balboa property decision has already been made by the City Council. Let’s hope it is successful. I believe it is important that revenues from the sale of City assets be used only to finance capital improvements for the City and not for operating expenses.  top


 
 

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