|Conceptual site plan. Source: Marisol Specific Plan Initiative.
Click to enlarge.
A new proposal from Zephyr and Robert Green Company for a resort complex on the bluff above Dog Beach significantly changes the size and scale of the original project and is renamed Marisol Resort. And in a surprise move the developers are sponsoring an initiative to put the new Marisol Specific Plan before voters perhaps as early as the March 2020 Primary Election. If the required number of signatures, 10% of Del Mar’s registered voters (or 372) is certified, the City has the option to either to accept the Plan or set a public vote.
The application for a Citizen’s Initiative to collect signatures was filed with the City on August 5. If the required number of signatures is certified, Council has directed staff to come back with a report on the related impacts and issues of the resort development. The California Elections Code states that the report must be completed within 30 days of the signature certification.
The new Marisol Plan is 40% smaller than the original, the number of hotel rooms reduced from 251 to 65, the private villas from 76 to 31, and now includes 22 units of low income housing, meeting the City’s required housing allocation for 2021.
The Plan which rezones the property from low density residential to visitor commercial still includes public access to the whole property with a 1 ½ mile trail around the perimeter dedicated to the City, a sand replenishment endowment and public bathrooms on the beach. Most of the villas would become privately owned short term rentals nine months out of the year, managed by the resort. According to the Initiative all four-story elements will be eliminated in the Specific Plan although the initiative allows heights of up to 46 feet .
Public comments at the August 5 Council meeting on the “surprise move” split over the merits of the new design versus what others saw as the Petition asking residents to call for a vote on the Marisol Specific Plan before the Draft EIR is completed, before story poles are set up and before Design Review Board and Planning Commission members have a chance to review.
Proponents noted the time developers had spent listening to the community and making “dramatic” changes based on that input, i.e. a smaller footprint and a public vote; along with public access and increased tax revenues. Staff assured the Council that the EIR was underway and Coastal Commission approval of the project would still be required. The text of the initiative, as summarized by the City Attorney, requires the normally-required reviews for the Marisol Specific Plan project.
Last month the proponents began distributing literature describing the project as “Fully Reimagined” door to door in Del Mar. They posted the initiative language in the Del Mar Times on August 22 and have 180 days to circulate the petition for signatures. The project “store front” at 1412 Camino del Mar is scheduled to open next month and detailed information on the Initiative process is being continually updated on the City’s website under “2020 Initiatives.” It also includes the complete Marisol Specific Plan application and the City’s summary.