2022 Del Mar City Council Candidate Answers

The Sandpiper wants to help readers be very clear about where they stand on key issues. Our goal is specifics, not generalities. Voters need to know exactly where you stand and what they can expect you to do if you are elected to office. Please answer each question as succinctly as possible (fewer than 100 words). 

Question 1

The current plan to implement the 6th cycle Housing Element focuses on adding 54 low-income units on fairgrounds property, despite concerns voiced by the state Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) that this would isolate low-income residents from the rest of Del Mar. If the Fairgrounds site is not approved by HCD or the City is unable to secure an agreement for Fairgrounds housing within the specified timeframe (by Dec. 2024), the City is obligated to rezone eligible sites of Program 1E at 20-25 dwelling units per acre for development by right, within six months. Which of these options would you support for the required rezoning by right? 1) rezone the vacant North Bluff sites, 2) rezone the vacant South Stratford properties, 3) split the rezoning between the North Bluff and South Stratford sites; or 4) vote against implementing Program 1E? Briefly explain why you prefer the option you identified.

Terry Gaasterland

Housing on the fairgrounds is underway, and I am fully committed to making it happen on time. The North and South Bluffs were designated in the Community Plan as the lowest density in Del Mar to protect the integrity of the bluffs. In my opinion, we cannot allow high-density zoning on these protected bluffs. As a member of the City Council, I will do everything possible to prevent high-density zoning from happening there. 

Stephen Quirk

Housing concepts and designs on the fairgrounds are moving forward. A significant portion of Del Mar’s RHNA jobs numbers (determined by SANDAG) and related housing requirements include many events and related jobs that occur on the fairgrounds. As such, the fairgrounds should be required to make a deal with Del Mar to follow through on our thoughtful plan. The bluff areas of Del Mar are fragile. In September, there was a report of another stress fault on our bluffs. I am strongly opposed to high density development for Del Mar, particularly in our residential neighborhoods and vulnerable environmental zones.

Dwight Worden

Getting a fairgrounds deal for affordable housing is high-priority. HCD’s isolation concerns can be addressed with good design, quality on-site services, transportation, and engagement in community-wide programs. Putting 250+ units on the North Bluff—where the community rejected Marisol—should be our last choice. If we don’t get a fairgrounds deal and are legally required to rezone other sites, splitting the units between North Bluff and south Stratford is more equitable. In an earlier Council vote, I suggested such a split, but a majority supported North Bluff only. Putting the City in violation of State law is not an option.

Question 2

SANDAG has identified two preferred options for a train tunnel under Del Mar, one the westerly route that crosses under Camino Del Mar, and the second easterly route that crosses under Crest Canyon. Both will have impacts to Del Mar, primarily at the northern and southern entrances to the tunnel. Do you prefer one or the other tunnel alignment, and what strategy do you think best serves Del Mar’s interests as the City participates in SANDAG’s process to select the alignment, mitigate impacts, and get the tracks off the bluffs?


Terry Gaasterland: As it stands, SANDAG staff has narrowed their five alignments down to the two that they prefer according to their priorities. Their westerly route along Camino Del Mar could seriously affect many homes on both sides of CDM and would not solve the long-term goal of avoiding flooding from sea level rise since the route would still go through the lagoon to our south. Therefore, I cannot support this route. The second route SANDAG prefers would be deep underground and enter near Jimmy Durante and Camino Del Mar, and then run diagonally until it reaches Portofino Road in the City of San Diego. We cannot fully understand the impacts of this route without further geotechnical and environmental study and preliminary design. SANDAG has eliminated a third route that may be less impactful to the City of Del Mar. It would relocate the tracks to near the I-5 Right Of Way with a smaller tunnel under Del Mar Heights Road. In my opinion, this route should be included in the environmental and geotechnical studies that will begin in early 2023. I will continue to bring these concerns to SANDAG at future Board meetings.


Stephen Quirk: SANDAG has narrowed five alignments down to two based on their priorities. With almost zero feedback from the public, they have eliminated a third alignment along the I-5 that would be less impactful to Del Mar. This should be included in their 2023 environmental study. Additionally, let us all remember that in 2021 SANDAG initially called for “bluff decapitation” as one of their primary solutions for helping to stabilize Del Mar’s bluffs where the tracks currently run. It was only because of significant community input and opposition that they backed away from this truly terrible and environmentally destructive proposal.


Dwight Worden: I will insist that SANDAG address our concerns and do a tunnel that is right for Del Mar. Our community deserves thorough vetting and environmental review of all feasible alignments, and robust opportunities to be heard on key issues: Where will the portals be? How will the tunnel be vented? Will there be vibration or noise? The alignment crossing Crest Canyon may be best –less disruptive, more protective of the lagoons, less costly, faster service–but my mind is open. Tunnels run under L.A. neighborhoods without problems; it can be done, and getting the tracks off our bluffs is critical.

Question 3

In January 2022, Councilmember Dan Quirk and Deputy Mayor Tracy Martinez filed a City Council Agenda Report in support of a proposed Resolution supporting efforts to analyze long-term train viability. The train tracks running through Del Mar are used by freight trains, Amtrak passenger trains, and NCTD’s Coaster. Do you agree with their statement that “‘no train’ is one of the options we believe the community needs to be thoroughly vetting?” If so, briefly explain why you think it is realistic and advantageous for Del Mar to seek an end to all train service through Del Mar, and how this could be accomplished.


Terry Gaasterland: No, I do not agree. The LOSSAN rail corridor for freight and passengers is here for the foreseeable future, and any council candidate who would state they can stop it would be misleading voters. Council members must focus on ensuring that the re-routing of the tracks is done in Del Mar’s best interest. The Council’s job is to protect the interests of our residents.


Stephen Quirk: There are serious problems and challenges for the train, but the tracks that run through Del Mar have been in place for many years and will remain so for the foreseeable future. On this issue and others, it is my sincere desire to listen to what the many different residents of Del Mar have to say. We all benefit from hearing diverse opinions and perspectives.


Dwight Worden: The “No train” option is an ill-informed, unrealistic concept that undermines our climate goals and our credibility. It’s magical thinking that Del Mar can broker an end to train service with stakeholders like AMTRAK, BNSF, SANDAG, NCTD, and STRACNET (Defense). It’s time to stop tilting at windmills! Every freight car can take 4-6 semis off the freeway. Passenger trains take millions of cars off roadways. Trains reduce congestion and GHG emissions. With innovators like the former SpaceX engineers [bit.ly/train-zero] developing autonomous, zero-emissions rail cars, trains will be an even more important part of our transportation matrix in our carbon-neutral future.

Question 4

Do you believe that one councilmember should publicly advance a position that is counter to the adopted Council position; e.g. attacking the SANDAG Regional Transportation Plan that was supported by our representative on the SANDAG Board of Directors and a majority of the Council?


Terry Gaasterland: When a Council member is representing Del Mar – for example, on the CEA, NCTD or SANDAG Boards – they are obligated to vote based on the decision the City Council has made. However, Council members have the same free speech rights as any other individual. When a Council member expresses a position contrary to a Council majority position, they have an obligation to present it as their own personal opinion.


Stephen Quirk: I believe in free speech. I believe that Council Members have the same rights as any other individual and that they have the right to express their opinions as their own. We all benefit from hearing different opinions and perspectives.


Dwight Worden: Robust Council and public debate is critically important; I encourage it, and as Mayor, I foster it. Each councilmember (and member of the public) has the right and opportunity to express their viewpoints, and advocate for them vigorously. However, once the debate is over and the Council makes a decision that becomes the City’s policy or official position, it is part of every Councilmember’s job to support the adopted City positions, and to clearly indicate when he or she is speaking as a private citizen and expressing an opinion that is contrary to the City’s position. Teamwork is vital!

Question 5

Will you support the Council compromise on short term rentals, allowing 24 days a year with minimum 7-day stay in residential zones, and unlimited short-term rentals in commercial zones? If not, what limits will you support to protect and preserve residential neighborhoods and housing stock for residential use?


Terry Gaasterland: This issue will be coming before the City Council for discussion in the near future. I am committed to creating a policy that will be beneficial to the residents of our City.


Stephen Quirk: Short term rentals are an issue that every city in the county is trying to thoughtfully address. San Diego, the largest city in the County, is currently vetting regulations revolving around quotas, limits on licenses per individual, grandfathering, official registration and related TOT taxes, strict standards on noise and disruptive behavior, robust compliance and enforcement, and license revocation for bad operators. Del Mar should closely monitor San Diego’s process and results, as well as other nearby cities. I strongly support protecting our peaceful residential neighborhoods from being turned into disruptive party zones.


Dwight Worden: Yes. We need to protect our residential neighborhoods from what otherwise can be a plague of “mini-hotels.” I helped draft the 28-7 plan (it’s 28-7, not 24-7) – a good compromise that prevents “mini-hotels” or multiple turnovers in a week disrupting residential neighborhoods. 28 days a year, plus traditional 30+-day summer/race rentals allows rentals for the full summer. 28-7 accommodates our residents who short-term rent, but intentionally excludes commercial operators. With unlimited STRs in Commercial zones, the 941 project, Wave Crest and L’Auberge timeshares, there is plenty of opportunity for STRs in Del Mar under 28-7. Let’s protect our neighborhoods!


Question 6

The city adopted its Climate Action Plan (CAP) in 2016 with target goals that are not legally binding. The CAP was due for an update in 2021, but that has been postponed while the climate crisis continues to worsen. Do you support a CAP update in 2023, and do you agree that the updated document should be legally binding to ensure that implementation actually happens?


Terry Gaasterland: I fully support a CAP update in 2023. In fact, I believe it is necessary to update the Climate Action Plan on an ongoing basis to ensure we are keeping up with the latest technologies.


Stephen Quirk: I support updating our CAP update for 2023 as well as future updates to keep up with the many significant and rapidly occurring advances in science and technology. I am a technology entrepreneur with a keen interest in protecting the environment, and my current company, Sustain6, is part of the technology wave that is going to help us creatively and constructively address climate change with forward looking thinking, not backwards. Too often, the discussion on climate change is framed as a win-lose instead of the win-win that it can and will be.


Dwight Worden: Yes. As Council liaison to the Sustainability committee, I helped develop our Climate Action Plan, and fully support updating it and making it legally binding. Climate change is now a “Code Red for Humanity.” Del Mar is small, but we can and must do our part, and can set an example for other cities. The Council has already achieved key parts of the CAP, including founding and joining the Clean Energy Alliance. Updated and legally binding elements will make it more effective. I support a robust community discussion as we work together to update our CAP and lead on climate.