DEL MAR — Del Mar Village has officially been named a California Main Street by the California Main Street Alliance, which recognizes historic commercial districts that serve as models for successful community revitalization.
County Supervisor Dave Roberts, his predecessor and Del Mar resident Pam Slater-Price, City Council, city staff and members of the Del Mar Village Association were on hand for the Nov. 5 designation ceremony at L’Auberge Del Mar.
“Del Mar is a really special place,” Roberts said before announcing the county designated Nov. 5 as Del Mar Village Association Day. “You know how to make a community thrive. You get it.”
Richard Earnest, former mayor and current DMVA president, credited the many people whose efforts resulted in the designation but gave special acknowledgment to the organization’s executive director.
“Jen Grove almost single-handedly put this together,” Earnest said. “Her drive, enthusiasm and dedication to get this done are second to none. She and Ashleigh Hinrichs are like Batman and Robin.”
Grove contacted Laura Cole-Rowe, the California Main Street Alliance executive director, about a year ago.
“She said she thought they were ready to apply, so I came out for a site visit in January,” Cole-Rowe said. “The process is very complicated. It’s not like applying for a credit card.”
“The application was voluminous,” she said. “It was 3 inches thick. And it’s not a slam dunk.”
Grove said about 20 people spent almost a year collecting the required information and two months completing the application.
“They want very detailed information on demographics, employment, vacancies, square footage of buildings and the types of businesses,” Grove said.
Other requirements include economic information, city history and a list of historic buildings, to name a few. Although it took the DMVA less than a year to complete the process, Cole-Rowe said she wouldn’t recommend that for other cities.
“Del Mar has been practicing the Main Street method of revitalization for almost 10 years so they understand how it works,” she said.
Benefits to the designation include more grant opportunities and increased credibility.
“We’re no longer just an aspiring Main Street. We are a Main Street Community,” she said. Next up for DMVA is to seek national accreditation, which will give the organization a voice in matters that impact downtowns.
“We’ve been working hard as a community under the leadership of DMVA to improve our downtown,” Mayor Terry Sinnott said. “This is a milestone. It’s recognition of all the good work of DMVA.
“It also maps out how we can work in the future to make Del Mar a better place for our residents and visitors,” he added. “We’re taking small steps and involving our businesses and residents to identify ways to make downtown the village our community plan has always described. I’m just so proud of all the work everyone’s done and now I’m looking forward to the future.”
City officials have been working for decades to revitalize the downtown area. Those efforts include Proposition J, a failed 2012 ballot initiative that would have reduced Camino del Mar, the main thoroughfare, from four lanes to two, added roundabouts and increased building heights on the west side.
Some opponents said the downtown area is fine the way it is and should be left alone.
“You have to make changes to keep vital, especially with all the new competition in the area at Flower Hill and Del Mar Highlands,” Grove said. “I think it’s short-sighted to think you can’t do anything and survive.”
Grove and Sinnott said Proposition J was a comprehensive solution. “We are looking at smaller pieces at a time that we can implement,” Grove said.
“You did a stellar job putting this together,” Cole-Rowe told attendees at the ceremony, adding that the requested information is for the city.
“It gives you a greater understanding of what your community is all about,” she said. “It’s a learning process. I’m really happy to welcome you as the newest designated Main
“I’m overwhelmed,” Grove said.