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Housing Manoeuvres
Ann Gardner | Via Latina

Businesses along Jimmy Durante Blvd in the North Commercial Zone. Photo Ann Gardner.

As we go to press over 600 signatures on a local referendum petition are being reviewed by the County Registrar of Voters to determine if 345 of those signatures are registered to vote in Del Mar. If verified, the incoming Council must determine whether to repeal the current Council’s 3-2 decision on October 5th that allows additional housing in the North Commercial Zone at Jimmy Durante and San Dieguito Drive, or put the decision to a public vote. In the mean time the decision is suspended.

The October 5th 3 to 2 decision enabled the City to meet its Fifth Cycle (2013-2021) Housing Element objective to enact policies that encourage the construction of 22 affordable housing units as part of Del Mar’s commitment to ease California’s housing crises, especially for lower income families. On September 30th the City had already received a letter from the California Housing and Community Development (HCD) Department warning that despite numerous warnings Del Mar “has failed to implement program actions included in our 5th Cycle Element and this failure …has brought the City out of substantial compliance with California’s Housing element Law” and subject to enforcement penalties including “by right” development that eliminates local review.

A local referendum allows voters to reject legislation that has been enacted by a City Council if 10 percent of the registered voters of that City sign a valid petition protesting adoption of an ordinance. If verified, the effective date of the ordinance is suspended and the City Council must either repeal the ordinance, or submit it for voter approval (the next general election is November, 2022). The incoming City Council, with two (Haviland and Parks chosing not to run again) of the three approving the ordinance no longer on the Council, will make that decision. A transition meeting for the new City Council is scheduled for December 7.

Of the five, Deputy Mayor Gaasterland and recently reelected Councilmember Druker had voted against the ordinance and Druker had discussed the idea of waiting until after the November Council election to determine the amount of units saying “I believe it should be residential but am dead set against the concept of 20 units per acre.” Of the newly elected council members, Tracey Martinez and Dan Quirk, Martinez ran on a platform that included the “need to assemble an alternative to up-zoning the entire NC zone and present that alternative to the (California) Housing and Community Development.” The earliest a decision on whether to repeal the referendum or submit for voter approval is estimated to be at the January 11 Council meeting.

The Council and the City have little time to find alternatives to the current North Commercial zoning ordinance #973 that are acceptable to HCD and the community, and most importantly provide opportunities for the 14 or so additional units needed to meet our affordable housing goals. The deadline for implementing our Fifth Cycle Housing Element commitments is April 21, 2021.



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