Ordinance would allow up to 20 dwelling units per acre on Jimmy Durante Boulevard at San Dieguito Drive.
After Del Mar re-zoned its North Commercial area last fall to help meet affordable housing goals, locals moved swiftly to reverse the change.
Now, it's the city council pushing back on the effort to thwart the ordinance, which would allow up to 20 dwelling units per acre on Jimmy Durante Boulevard at San Dieguito Drive.
A petition by Arnie Wiesel and the Del Mar Hillside Association received enough signatures to get on the ballot, leaving the city to either repeal the ordinance or submit it to voters at the next regular election in November 2022, or at a special election held at least 88 days after the council's order.
In any case, a long wait for a city with no affordable housing and an April 15 state deadline to complete its current housing element and implement the North Commercial rezone.
The city wants the petitioners to withdraw the referendum before their mid-March meeting, and is hopeful about reaching a settlement that addresses negative impacts to traffic and safety, the environment and neighborhood character, from building height to more short-term rentals.
The council unanimously agreed to up-zone four parcels in the professional commercial zone along Camino del Mar.
Some of those living on San Dieguito Drive sent letters about future-traffic and fire safety, asking what happens when the Fairground adds 100 concerts a year to its schedule of events?
But if not the North Commercial area, then the North and South bluffs face the same rezoning to 20 units per acre - rankling those who live there.
The re-zoning would yield 19 affordable homes in an area long considered for higher density. According to a staff report, the rezone was required to be completed by April 2016 under the certified 5th Cycle Housing Element.
It may be five years late, but the Council is still expected by the state department of housing and community development to finish what they started and promised before the 5th Cycle ends on April 15, 2021, or risk penalties.
If the petition is withdrawn, the city must still pass a community plan amendment to complete the zoning change. The ordinance was never fully enacted last fall because councilmembers Dave Druker and Terry Gaasterland voted against the amendment.
Although the council unanimously agreed to up-zone four parcels in the professional commercial zone along Camino del Mar, not doing so on all the parcels could be costly, a staff report said.
It could lead to the state overriding local land-use authority, ineligibility for grant funding, lawsuits, and fines by the state up to $100,000 per month.
Then there's the cost to hold a special election, which took the city by surprise. It's "significantly more" than expected, interim city manager Ashley Jones told the council last week. The estimate was between $100,000 and $175,000.
"That's way higher than what we've ever considered in the past."
Meanwhile, the city is wrapping up its draft 6th Cycle Housing Element, said planning director Joseph Smith, warning about the 11th-hour tweaking of a document set to be released March 4 in the planning commission packet and sent to the state.
Since the referendum hasn't been withdrawn "we're still assuming a replacement re-zone program." And if it is withdrawn, "it's going to be a bit of a swap."