No shortage of comments on City Hall plans

No shortage of comments on City Hall plans
As plans to build a new City Hall on the current site at 1050 Camino del Mar move forward, residents have offered a variety of comments that at time contradict one another. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek
DEL MAR — At the Nov. 17 meeting, council members are expected to discuss the results of an Oct. 27 workshop that asked residents what, if any, additional uses besides a civic center should be included in plans to replace the deteriorating City Hall.

Attendees were presented with three options that all featured a new City Hall, a town hall meeting space and a plaza big enough to accommodate the farmers market.

Other scenarios include commercial buildings — primarily slated for restaurants — homes or a combination of uses.

If the basic plan is selected, additional uses could be added later.

The October workshop was the third such public meeting held on the topic as council members have started to narrow down their choices.

During the first two, attended by about 45 people, residents said plans should include additional public parking and a cultural space, such as a theater.

About a dozen of the 70 or so residents who attended the most recent workshop said they did not attend the previous two.

For those who have paid little attention or have been unable to attend or view the public workshops and myriad meetings, the following is a summary of some of many comments that have been presented on what should or shouldn’t be included in the plans and why:

• The city should not spend taxpayer money mixing residential and retail with city business. We do not need a theater or exhibit space as Powerhouse and Seagrove are adequate for activities.

• Del Mar sorely needs a gathering place that isn’t shared by the tens of thousands of visitors who flock to our beaches and parks. Places such as Powerhouse are not designed with good acoustics for activities such as poetry readings, small concerts or specialty movies.

• The facility should include only new administrative offices and a town hall with a communications center.

• A Civic Center should be just that, not a hodgepodge of auxiliary uses.

• Why would we put residential on City Hall property any more than in any of our parks?

• The city should not go into debt for its employees.

• Mixed-use should be phased in over time.

• Phasing would probably never get done, and doing it in later will be more expensive.

• I’d like to see a market in town.

• Residents should not foot the bill for “unneeded” parking as there are adequate spaces south of 12th Street and parking at City Hall is generally empty on nights and weekends.

• We clearly need more public parking in the central business district so adding surplus spaces makes a lot of sense.

• There is currently a lot of vacant office and retail space along Camino del Mar and at the plaza, indicating no demand for more.

• The plaza is a “totally different animal,” with high rents.

• Commercial and residential at the south end of the city would give people a reason to walk from one end of town to the other.

• City Hall should front Camino del Mar.

• With interest rates at an all-time low, let’s get going. Please, no more workshops.

Council members say doing nothing is not an option, as city employees are currently working in “third-world conditions,” with no indoor restrooms and ceilings that are collapsing.

They would like to move forward sooner rather than later because of low interest rates.

A link on the city website includes background information, prior studies and current reports, as well as video from the three workshops.

Once council members decide which options to move on, residents will be asked to weigh in on their preferred alternatives.

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