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Neighborly Transparency:
Ad Hoc Committee Report
Art Olson | Avenida Primavera

The City’s volunteer Ad Hoc Committee reviewing the development process in Del Mar has been working hard to identify and make recommendations regarding some of the concerns and issues raised in the community. Subcommittees were formed to address various perspectives, with the short term goal of tackling concerns where there is general consensus. A report of their progress will be given at the June 6 City Council meeting. Included in that report is a proposal to revamp the Citizens Participation Program (CPP) to help resolve community or neighborhood issues concerning a development project prior to the DRB hearing.
The proposed revisions to the CPP entail a two-step procedure designed to make the process more fair and transparent in order to facilitate understanding among all parties. A pre-CPP step involves a noticed meeting between the project applicants or their representative (usually the architect) and interested neighbors. This meeting is to take place prior to any plans being drawn, and is meant to inform the neighbors about the applicant’s vision for the proposed development, and for the applicant to hear neighborhood or community concerns about development at the project site. The meeting would be a conceptual discussion, with no plans, story poles or drawings.

Subsequent to the pre-CPP meetings, a second notice would be sent out announcing the CPP meeting with a letter including a description for the project and a copy of the most recent preliminary plans. At the meeting there would be a requirement that the neighbors and applicant/representative be able to see how the project is viewed from different angles, including 3D images, story poles with meshing to better represent volume and massing, as well as a two dimensional streetscape showing neighborhood compatibility. At the CPP, there would be a volunteer Ombudsperson whose role is to educate those present on the process, but not advocate any particular point of view, and to act as a neutral observer making sure that the proceedings of the CPP are accurately represented, recorded, and distributed.

The timing and notification of these meetings should be sufficient to enable participation by any and all interested community members. No binding agreements or requests for binding agreements should take place at these meetings. The goal of the CPP process is to make the DRB hearings less contentious, and allow the DRB to act in their judicial capacity, and not as mediators or designers. This approach should dramatically reduce the number of costly hearing continuances with their incremental design changes.

In addition to the CPP revisions the Ad Hoc Committee has produced drafts of two informative and helpful documents that are intended to help neighbors and applicants better understand the Del Mar design process and how to effectively work with it to reduce conflict and improve the nature of their neighborhoods.

 

 

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