Bud Emerson | Klish Way
The citizens’ Ad Hoc committee continues to take a fresh look at the city’s design review process and is near the end of its first phase of gathering input from multiple sources. Several open workshops have provided multiple opportunities to hear from all interested parties including the public, the City Council, the planning staff, the Design Review Board, architects and builders, and individuals who have gone through the DRB process as applicants or neighbors. The committee will be contacting other cities for their experience and good ideas about how to improve our ordinances and processes. The committee will attempt to finalize its recommendations in 2016. The City Council will then decide how to formally review their work product, probably with more hearings, staff review, and consultant help.
A by-product of these high energy workshops has been the formation of two community advocacy groups, Moving Del Mar Forward (MDF) and the Del Mar Neighborhood Alliance (DNA). The Sandpiper has offered both groups space to describe more specifically their values and objectives. So far neither group has accepted this offer.
Based on public testimony it seems clear that MDF members support real estate and development interests, property rights, and less restrictive design review. DNA member voices favor more human scale development envisioned in the Community Plan and increased opportunities for input from neighbors and the general public in the design review process. There seems to be agreement from members of both groups that the design review process needs more transparency and clearer review criteria.
There is much speculation that these differences will become the basis for a more spirited City Council election campaign next November. To some a contested City Council election will be a welcome opportunity for voters to weigh in after several years of uncontested elections.