Affordable Housing: The First!

A goose egg! Yes, that has been Del Mar’s score for decades on the County summary of affordable housing units produced by all cities. Well, not anymore thanks to new Del Mar residents, Lisa Tam and Everett Love who have now achieved the actual physical construction of a one bedroom “granny flat,” otherwise known as an “Accessory Dwelling Unit” (ADU).


They have agreed to restrict this beautifully designed flat to rent in compliance with low income rates set annually by the County of San Diego. Currently, that rate is $67,900 for one person, $77,600 for two persons. The maximum monthly rental rates will be $1688 or $1940 for two. They will have the customary rights of landlords to rent or not rent to individuals as long as the income limits are met. Their stated intent is to find a local teacher or someone who serves the public interest. As stated in an earlier Sandpiper article, they see this as an opportunity for someone who will be an asset to our community, but could not otherwise afford local rental rates.

Photo Lisa A. Tam

This ADU was exempted from design review by state law, but it was considered for its compatibility with their home during its review by the Design Review board. This is the only project among 65 ADU projects in the pipeline here that will be rent restricted (49 approved, 27 building permits). According to state law, cities are required to facilitate the construction of ADUs without design review and without any rent restrictions or even requirements that they be used as rentals. Del Mar will ask ADU owners to report their rental experiences in the hope that some of them can be counted in meeting our overall objectives.


Del Mar’s Community Plan Housing Element outlines several strategies for achieving its prescribed allocation of 175 housing units by the year 2029. To date two units have been approved for the “941” project on 10th and Camino Del Mar and 8-10 units in the Watermark project on Jimmy Durante Boulevard which is proceeding with increased density, height, lot coverage, and floor area ratio (FAR) “by right” without design review because of Del Mar’s repeated failure to achieve its legally-required fair share of regional housing goals. City Council has outlined a long shot strategy for getting the Fair Board to agree to affordable units on its property—if not successful, the Council will upzone North Bluff to achieve the balance of our required allocation.


For now, we can thank Lisa Tam and Everett Love for starting us off on this long journey in the right spirit.