Ann Gardner | Via Latina
How can Del Mar add more housing while keeping its small beach town character? The DRAFT plan for achieving that goal as part of the City’s 6th Cycle (2021-2029) Housing Element update, and its possible environmental impacts, is now posted on the City’s website for your review and comment. The Draft was built upon input from a local survey, a public workshop, State law, and, perhaps most important, because of the COVID shutdown, from neighborhood representatives who made up the City’s Ad-Hoc Housing Task Force. The Task Force scoured the landscape, talked with friends and neighbors and researched available options. Their goal, as reported to the Council on June 15, was to encourage local consensus on how best meet the State’s requirement that we provide more housing for all income levels.
The 6th Cycle Housing Element is a State-mandated program that, based on our region’s allocation for 163 new housing units at various income levels, requires Del Mar to implement programs that will accommodate 101 affordable units in the lower income category ($43,150 to $69,040). The City also has an obligation to accommodate 46 additional “carryover” units from the prior Housing Element. The Task Force determined this was possible: “The City has many creative ways to meet these goals and we believe it can be done while adhering to all State laws and to the spirit of our Community Plan and dispersing units throughout the City. We Can Do This.”
Both the Task Force and City staff agree that State incentives for building Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), smaller houses on the same site as a primary dwelling, and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units within the walls of a dwelling unit, are a key component in accommodating more housing units throughout the community. ADUs are limited to 850 to 1000 square feet and a height of 16 feet; JrADUs are limited to 500 sq. feet. Both are subject to administrative review only and are exempt from the lot’s floor area ratio limit and the design review ordinance.
At the June 15 Council meeting Planning and Community Development Director Joseph Smith reported that the housing approach to date focuses on five areas: 1) housing units in the downtown commercial areas, 2) at the Fairgrounds, 3) lots with Public Facilities and vacant City-owned properties, 4) on vacant residentially-zoned land (R1-40 and R1-14 zones) in the North Bluff area along Border Avenue, and 5) along south Stratford as necessary to meet State law requirements that such locations be considered.
The Draft Program Environmental Impact Review (PEIR) is posted on the City’s website and is available for public review and comment through August 31. Two informational sessions are scheduled to cover the Draft PEIR: City Council on July 6 and Planning Commission on July 14. Written comments will be responded to and included in the final EIR, which will then go to the Planning Commission, along with the draft 6th Cycle Housing Element, in September, and to City Council in October, and then on to the California Housing and Community Development, with a final approval deadline of April 2021 for the Housing Element.