Ann Gardner | Via Latina
Photo Ann Gardner.
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In late 2017 City Council gave Del Mar Resort developers the go-ahead to prepare a “Specific Plan” for a resort complex on 16 acres of bluff top land at the southwest corner of Via de la Valle and Camino del Mar. A Specific Plan allows a project to exceed zoning requirements if the public benefits outweigh, for instance, the impact of buildings exceeding the size and height allowed by the existing zone. The proposed Resort site is currently zoned residential; the proposed “rezone” is Visitor/Commercial.
Del Mar requires applicants to gather citizens’ feedback on new development prior to a formal submittal to the City. “Resort Del Mar” scheduled many neighborhood sessions, sometimes four in a week usually at Powerhouse Park and especially well attended after the story poles went up. We attended an informational session held on a Saturday morning at the Plaza.
The presentation emphasized the Resort was “a resort for everybody.” They highlighted the resort as open to the whole community with four restaurants ranging from an informal street side café to the more expensive bluff top dining experience, a public trail around the property and public parking. And, the speaker added, with the goal of reflecting the natural, open space character of our beachside community. Perhaps the most convincing benefit in the eyes of some, was the expected $8 million going to the City of Del Mar annually, mostly in Transit Occupancy Tax and an estimated 40% increase in the City’s current revenue stream.
Reaction of those attending was mixed. Residents from the adjacent condominiums and Solana Beach hillside north of Via de la Valle were adamant the increase in traffic would worsen “already clogged” Via de la Valle and Camino del Mar, and the four-story buildings would have a negative impact on the existing views. The project’s traffic engineer tried to assure them that there would be traffic increases of only 1 to 2% on Camino del Mar and 8 to 9% on Via de la Valle. There were several comments emphasizing the importance of keeping the Bluff Preserve, adjacent to the property, in its current untrammeled condition and setting resort buildings back from the Preserve boundary. One couple said they were delighted with the plan and asked to be put on a list to purchase one of the proposed 76 villas. Another said he was reassured by the traffic engineer’s analysis and the scheduled geotechnical study aimed at assuring bluff stability.
Other clarifications came up during the question and answer period: although grounds are open to the public, the three swimming pools are limited to use by Resort guests and Villa residents only; the public parking is paid parking similar to the L’Auberge Hotel’s underground parking; the average room rate for the 252 hotel rooms is $700/day; Villa owners can rent out their properties through the resort on a short term basis and will not be subject to Del Mar short term rental restrictions; the 15 affordable units are rentals only and cannot be rented out on a short term basis.
Feedback collected at the neighborhood sessions were to be considered by the developer when preliminary drawings were presented at the more formal Citizen Participation workshop on August 27. An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that will focus on probable environmental effects including geology and soils (bluff erosion/instability), traffic, and land use (including Coastal Zone requirements) is currently underway. Check the Sandpiper website for updates.