Commentary – Two Quirks??

Dan Quirk’s identical twin brother Stephen is running for City Council. Whatever the merits of Stephen’s positions on important issues for Del Mar, we are deeply concerned about the practical impacts of having twin brothers who reside in adjoining duplex units on one parcel holding two seats on our city council. 


First, both would be legally deemed to have a conflict of interest requiring recusal for any development project within 500 ft. of their property. This means that any project (like Watermark) in the North Commercial (NC) zone would have 3 council members (Tracy Martinez also lives nearby) in conflict. Since any council decision requires 3 (or more) votes to pass, one or more of the conflicted members would be selected by chance to vote even though they live close to the proposed project. This is unlikely to result in the best outcome for Del Mar. Because the recent NC upzoning provides for a potential 200+ housing units, having three Council members conflicted out would pose serious problems, including having at least one conflicted Councilmember allowed to vote on projects where they would otherwise, by law, have a conflict of interest that precludes them from voting.


Second, Dan Quirk has tried and failed to get his opinions on the council agenda because he could not get a second council member to agree (one exception; Tracy Martinez agreed to put the “no trains” discussion on the council agenda). If Stephen Quirk supports his brother, we envision many more instances of Quirk diatribes derailing council discussions.


Third, the appearance of nepotism when making council decisions invites legal challenges, particularly with regard to their shared real property interests. Of course, it is now impossible for Stephen Quirk to be appointed to either the DRB or Planning Commission, so long as his brother is on the City Council. That is because the current Council, by a vote of 4-1 (Worden voting no) amended the City’s policy on Boards and Commissions, effective April 4, 2022, to prohibit an immediate family member of a City Council member, including a “sibling living,” from serving on the DRB or Planning Commission, “because of conflicts of interest which might exist…and in order to…avoid questions of fairness and bias, prejudice or influence…” For two twin brothers who decide it is fine for both of them to serve on the Council at the same time, despite nepotism concerns, shows bad judgement on the part of both of them.


Why is Councilmember Dan Quirk pushing hard for his twin brother to be elected to serve with him on the City Council, when by a policy that Dan Quirk voted for earlier this year, his brother could not serve on the DRB or Planning Commission? Nepotism should be of greater concern, the more powerful the position. 


Finally, Stephen has no prior experience at any level of city government. We believe that serving on the Design Review Board or the Planning Commission is valuable training for understanding the Community Plan and the proper role of the City Council, even though current council rules would preclude his appointment to either body.