Del Mar’s 2017 agenda will address a number of strategic considerations for our future.
• At the top of the list is the festering concern about the impact of short term rental businesses on our residential neighborhoods. It is important that we see this issue in the larger context of what is happening to our diminishing residential core. With more and more part-time residents, we have fewer permanent residents to do the civic work that helps our small town thrive as our Community Plan envisions. We need to take every step we can to keep our town a community and resist efforts to exploit it for business gain.
• Very near the top is a related issue of how we protect the small town character by updating and sharpening our design review tools. Our citizen advisory committee working on the Design Review Ordinance is gathering good ideas from other towns that will help us implement strong “quality control” measures. Central to their mission is how each neighborhood can be legitimized to help shape proposed changes in their built environment. We already know that shared views are important, but are we doing enough to deal with height, depth, width, bulk, space, color, privacy, light, noise, planting, setbacks, and more?
• We need a fresh look at our downtown to assess how we can work toward the Community Plan vision of a vital, resident-serving commercial center. Big changes are in the works with new Plaza ownerhship, Bully’s parking lot ideas, and a new Garden site proposal. Combining those with our new civic center and implementation of the streetscape plan gives us a fresh opportunity to re-envision how all of these parts and more could revitalize our downtown core.
• Another big subject for strategic focus is how our transportation system can be made more pedestrian-friendly. The controversy over the rail crossing reminds us how important it is to replace those dangerous tracks with a bluff top pedestrian trail. We are working on an interesting proposal to slow down traffic on Camino Del Mar at the south end of town and adding a safe pedestrian walkway. We need to stay true to the Community Plan vision of safe pedestrian uses over fast auto uses.
• Never forget the top priority of public safety. Our current Sheriff contract cost is escalating rapidly at the same time that complaints about inadequate service are rising. Neighbors are expressing concerns and fears about feeling vulnerable. We need to tune into the studies that have been done about alternative ways of protecting our community including the addition of community service officers, the possibility of setting up our own police department, or allying with Solana Beach for a joint agency.
• The rest of the agenda is long and no less important. Add Shores Park development, affordable housing, street maintenance, and dealing with our ever nagging relationship with our fairgrounds neighbor.
This long agenda clearly shows how important it is to have a robust permanent resident core of capable caring citizens to help the Council and staff get all of this work done. The Sandpiper will continue its mission to provide a forum for public discussion.