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Results of an online "poll" of Del Mar residents are in, and it appears the bulk of the electorate want to spend more than the bare minimum when it comes to replacing the town's aging city hall.

Locally registered voters were invited to cast votes from February 2–20, ranking their preference of three proposals for the city-hall site on Camino del Mar. The most basic replacement of the existing structure would cost taxpayers an estimated $7 million. A more ambitious plan, carrying a price tag of $18 million, would add 100 subterranean parking stalls to the existing 60, include space to add 20,000 square feet of buildings (to be used for "public, civic, or cultural uses”) with the potential to convert the extra space for commercial use and add even more parking later (though the city says this would require an official public vote). A third, option provided for up to 11,000 square feet of future development.

The poll itself initially raised eyebrows and faced a quickly dismissed lawsuit from a local businessman who argued that California's secretary of state did not sanction online elections. (In previous city documents, the poll was referred to as an "advisory election”— terminology that was revised when rumblings of a legal challenge surfaced.)

At first glance, the largest proposal seems most popular, collecting 440 of the 980 first-place votes cast (in all, 32 percent of the voters registered in Del Mar are reported to have participated in the polling). But when giving weight to both first- and second-place votes (three points awarded for a first choice, two for a second, one for a third), the intermediate plan comes out on top, despite receiving the fewest first-choice selections.

The results of the poll (outsourced to local online election firm Everyone Counts, Inc.) are not binding, though the city noted in a February 27 release that nearly 70 percent of respondents indicated openness to some sort of additional development of the city-hall site. City-council members will discuss the results of the polling at a meeting today, March 2.

Detailed polling results are available here.

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