DEL MAR — With 23 applicants for seven positions on the Shores Park Master Plan Advisory Committee, council members voted 4-1 at the March 17 meeting to waive a traditional policy of interviewing all interested parties.
Instead they will each review all the applications and submit their top seven choices to the city manager by March 24.
The top 10 candidates – more if there are ties – will then be interviewed and selected by the full council on April 21.
A second option had council liaisons Sherryl Parks and Terry Sinnott reviewing the applications, conducting interviews and recommending to the full council who should be appointed.
A third option, created by Sinnott, allowed council to use the entire pool of applicants by establishing a larger group of all 23 that would meet less frequently and provide broad direction on the master planning process.
“I think this is a very important committee and (option one) gives the entire council some input on the final composition,” Councilman Don Mosier said. “To me that’s the fairest.”
Mosier said he didn’t find the third option “attractive” because it would create “two levels of input and a potential conflict.”
“You’re just creating a mixed message,” Mosier said. “I’m delighted that so many people are interested in helping for the Shores master plan, but in working with committees I think seven is an ideal number. And the larger the committee the more unwieldy it gets and the harder it is to get a consensus.
“Every council member gets to weigh in on whoever their favorite choice is, and I think we’ll get a more diverse cast of characters on this committee,” Mosier said in support of the method council ultimately approved.
“I’d like to keep the other 16 folks engaged,” said Sinnott, who cast the dissenting vote.
He said appointing all 23 applicants would provide an opportunity, “as the process moves forward, to bounce suggestions, ideas off of these folks and get a cross section of the community’s reaction to how the process is going.”
Sinnott said the key function of the seven-member group is to make sure process is thorough and engages the community.
“But I’d also suggest that we use the other 16 people that have showed interest as another sounding board for how we’re doing,” Sinnott said.
Mosier said residents will have several chances to provide input because public workshops are planned.
“There’s going to be a lot of opportunity for community input,” he said “This is Del Mar. We’re all equal.
“I think these people are engaged and will stay engaged whether they have a semi-official title or not,” Mosier added. “I certainly agree that we want as much community involvement as we can get, and the 23 applicants indicate we’re going to get a lot of community involvement. And I think that’s predictable and good.”
In other news, council authorized the release of a request for proposals for a consultant to conduct a citywide satisfaction survey and approved contracts for two consulting firms to work on the City Hall planning process.
Council members also directed staff, with a rare 3-2 vote, to document their decision to set aside alternative sites for the new City Hall.
Last year council, staff and residents assessed several public and private sites for the new facility, including the Public Works Yard, the Shores property and buildings at South Fair.
With evaluations of the options, council and the public, in a workshop and through a survey, indicated the current City Hall site at 1050 Camino del Mar is the preferred location to build the new facility.
“I’m not necessarily suggesting that those are better options,” Councilman Al Corti said. “But in the next two or three months as we go through the process of picking consultants, looking at designs, getting an idea of costs, that we spend a little bit more time and perhaps a little bit more money on vetting some of the options so that come June we don’t have to sit here and look at the public and look at ourselves and say, ‘Maybe we should have done it.’”
“The community has come forward with a number of alternatives that I think we need to put to bed,” Sinnott said, noting that other locations have benefits and downsides.
“As we perfect our proposals for the community I want to make sure that those things are well documented so that they don’t resurrect themselves,” he added. “It’s important to take some of the alternatives and officially put them aside … and I don’t think we’ve officially done that as well as we should.”
Resident Jacqueline Winterer disagreed.
“This project has been analyzed to death,” she said. “We know everything that is possible to know about this project. … The public wants the City Hall to be in the middle of town. They want it to be in this property that you own in full.
“Why do you want to go look up at all these other issues that have been considered and rejected?” Winterer asked. “Whenever you delay this project the cost of borrowing money is going to go up. You keep your eyes on the money and get going.
“Today is the nine-month anniversary of the process when you started considering this issue,” she said. “Let this baby be born.”
Mosier agreed. “We have a preferred alternative,” he said. “I think that we should move forward as quickly as possible.
“There’s no other site that makes as much sense as this and we got a consensus in the community,” he added. “My view is this is making work that doesn’t need to be done. … We’ve got pretty clear direction from the community. This is backfilling for the critics who don’t like this site. I think that’s a waste of time.”
Sinnott said he is not trying to slow down the process or suggest another site would be better.
“I want to be able just to show people the reason we’ve done this is (it) makes a hell of a lot of sense,” he said.
Parks sided with Sinnott and Corti because she said skipping this step could weaken their support for the site.