I am pleased to be serving as the Mayor of Del Mar in 2023. While there are numerous issues impacting our community, the three most pressing that we must address this year are the state-mandated affordable housing requirements; moving forward to a final plan for moving the train tracks off our fragile southern bluffs; and continuing the undergrounding of utility lines.
My first goal is to obtain an agreement with the Del Mar Fairgrounds by October 2023 to build at least 54 units of affordable housing on the fairground property rather than being forced to rezone our North Bluff or South Bluff. The City has completed financial and architectural feasibility studies and now we need help from the fairground housing liaisons, Don Mosier and Kathlyn Mead, to make this happen.
We completed our 6th Regional Housing Cycle and have been waiting for over 18 months for HCD to certify it. The state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), overseen by SANDAG, required Del Mar to provide 113 affordable housing units and another 50 market rate units based on their calculations that there are 4,440 employees working in our city. While we believe this employment number is inflated, there is no effective recourse. Consequently, state mandates have created an enormous burden for our city and has put our community character at risk, including the possibility of eliminating protected views and potentially forcing development on the fragile and limited open space available in Del Mar.
We are taking action to respond to Sacramento’s overreaching housing laws which continue to pass at a rapid pace. Council member Gaasterland and I brought to council a proposal to join a multi-city lawsuit against SB-9, a law that now allows any R-1 lot to be split and allow two homes and two accessory dwelling units (ADUs or “granny flats”) on it without mandating them to be affordable even though the law was designed to create affordable housing. The Del Mar City Council voted unanimously to join the suit.
We are hoping to fight the state’s total disregard for local city regulations and the lack of recognition of the impact Sacramento’s decisions are having on our infrastructure and environment. We are already seeing ADUs being built that block views and encroach on residents’ privacy. A new law will allow an increase in height from 16 feet to 25 feet for attached accessory dwelling units. The impact to our city could be significant.
My second goal is to continue the work to move the train tracks off our fragile bluff and to forge a route for the train that does not unduly damage our city and residents. At present, the governmental entities (SANDAG and NCTD) are working on rerouting the train tracks zeroing in on a route that tunnels under Del Mar and they are ignoring other alternatives that are less disruptive. The frustration I have with SANDAG’s approach is they’ve done this with virtually no community input. When I hear “the Del Mar tunnel,” I get concerned about the impact to homes including noise, structures, and potential imminent domain, which I would never support. We must have community input and residential impacts must be taken into consideration before a final decision is made.
My third goal is to continue the undergrounding of utility lines. I believe the decision by city council to start with the smaller project, Tewa, was the right one because it was a great test that yielded many important lessons that will be beneficial as we move forward.
From where I sit, these are the main issues for our city for 2023, but as always, we remain open to resident input on other concerns and prepared to deal together with whatever comes our way.