State regional housing authorities have required Del Mar to identify an alternative location for multi-unit housing development, now that the City’s previously selected location (North Commercial, Jimmy Durante Blvd by the roundabout) has been taken off the table by a North Hillside resident filing a referendum that will require an eventual vote by all of Del Mar. According to City staff, only two unchallenged places are left that meet State law: four parcels on the North Bluff, and three parcels on the South Bluff on Stratford Court.
After Council-members Martinez and Quirk were disqualified from voting due to conflicts of interest, the decision was left to Mayor Gaasterland and Councilmembers Druker and Worden, all of whom expressed unease at the two remaining options. Gaasterland and Druker preferred North Bluff, with Worden alone proposing a split between North and South Bluff. In this situation, a unanimous vote was required for a council “majority” of three, so North Bluff became the choice with 111-139 housing units on the four parcels.
For citizens interested in preserving North Bluff and South Bluff and its existing low density residential housing, three things must now happen. First, the referendum must be withdrawn or voters must reject the citizen referendum when it comes up for a vote, Second, the Council must adopt the Community Plan amendment allowing residential use in North Commercial (including Watermark). Third, the Del Mar Fairgrounds and the City of Del Mar must reach an agreement for 54 affordable housing units by sometime in 2024.
In addition, the window of opportunity to get Del Mar into compliance on its 5th Cycle Housing Element without penalty further narrowed as the city council (except Worden) declined city staff recommendations to pass necessary resolutions and ordinances for the North Commercial zone. Gaasterland instead put forth a motion to direct staff to work on additional design standards for the Housing Element Implementation (HEI) Overlay Zone that the Planning Commission unanimously approved in January to help bring the city into compliance on its housing element. City staff and Worden both expressed concern over the last-minute timing of implementation of additional design standards that would usually require thoughtful vetting by the community at large, including proper noticing, but Gaasterland herself said she is committed to work as hard as needed in the short time window to get new design standards finalized in time to meet the April 15 deadline for bringing the 5th cycle into Compliance.