City looking into public use of L’Auberge, Del Mar Plaza

City looking into public use of L’Auberge, Del Mar Plaza
Two City Council members are working to develop guidelines for free public use of the community room at L’Auberge Del Mar and the plaza at Del Mar Plaza, something both facilities are required to provide. Many say the outdoor area at the outdoor, ocean-view plaza is currently underused. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

DEL MAR — Council members Dwight Worden and Sherryl Parks agreed at the Nov. 16 meeting to develop guidelines for free public use of the community room at L’Auberge Del Mar and the outdoor plaza at Del Mar Plaza, something both facilities are required to provide.

According to the hotel’s specific plan, the city is allowed to use at no cost a multipurpose room “with basic equipment and services no less than 12 times each year” for social, cultural, educational and civic activities.

Use of this benefit has not been utilized in the recent past, the staff report states.

Public benefits of the plaza’s specific plan include a large view-oriented plaza next to the food market and smaller plazas for public use.

Additionally it states, “Quasi-public areas will be available for public use. These areas will be located principally on the Plaza site.”

According to the staff report, there is some confusion about the public use of the referenced areas, which have not been made readily available for use by the public.

Parks and Worden will work with the management teams at both facilities to discuss frequency of use, the types of activities that could take place and whether a document should be created to memorialize the intent and procedures.

They will also determine whether use should be limited to nonprofit groups and the city.

Craig Hillman, representing the plaza, said he “absolutely and unequivocally” wants to work with the city to make the space available.

Resident Bill Michalsky said at the plaza there should be limits on noise and frequency of events. He also expressed concerns about parking and blocking views during events.

“Make it available but with a lot of open eyes,” he said.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to kind of rethink that plaza space,” Councilman Terry Sinnott said, noting that the current problem is that there is little activity at all.

“How can we enliven that space?” he asked. “If you could get a better vibe going on there I think you would benefit everybody.”

Worden said his vision for the plaza is book signings or the Del Mar Foundation having children’s activities. He suggested the garden club could hold meetings at the hotel.

“To me these guidelines should be focused on how … we really make this work for the community and for the plaza to help invigorate it,” he said. “I think there are nonprofits in town that if it were easy they would jump on those opportunities.”

“There will be a lot of takers, I’m sure,” Parks said.

“It did occur to me we’re spending a lot of time and effort figuring out how to activate the plaza in the new civic center,” Worden added. “And meanwhile we’ve got a beautiful plaza down here with public rights that’s being grossly underutilized and we should put some effort down at that end of town, too.”

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