DEL MAR — As 20-year-old plans to improve the downtown stretch of Camino del Mar are being updated, council members at the May 2 meeting directed staff to slow down the process, meaning the roadway and sidewalks between Ninth and 15th streets will not be redeveloped before the Breeders’ Cup comes to town next year.
“You don’t want any streetscape going on that’s going to impact that event,” Councilman Don Mosier said.
About a year ago city staff members began a public outreach campaign to identify what changes would be needed to the 1996 Camino del Mar streetscape plan that established a solid foundation for what the project could incorporate.
To complete design and construction drawings for such a capital improvement project, more specificity is required, the staff report states.
Since February of this year staff and representatives from Spurlock Landscape Architects, which created the 1996 document, met with members of the Business Support and Traffic and Parking Advisory committees and the Del Mar Village Association to garner feedback that would help make the plan implementable.
The existing conditions include 4- to 17-foot medians, 8- to 11-foot turn lanes, 12-foot vehicular lanes, a 5- to 6-foot bike lane, diagonal and parallel parking and 5- to 15-foot pedestrian areas.
Based on input the project team created four options that featured smaller medians and vehicular lanes, possibly only parallel parking, fewer parking spaces, larger bike lanes and more pedestrian realms.
The purpose of the May 2 presentation was to provide an update and confirm next steps rather than discuss design preferences.
According to the staff timeline, workshops and meetings with the advisory committees, DMVA and commercial property owners would be held this summer.
City Council would review the recommended plan updates and the partial architectural design drawings by fall.
The city engineer would then fully develop the design drawings and council would decide whether to pursue a spring 2017 streetscape capital improvement project.
“It sounds too fast,” Councilman Dwight Worden said. “Air it all out, see what the community thinks. I think it’s going to take a lot more time to really take the temperature of the community.
“And as a city we’re doing so many things right now I’d sort of worry about community fatigue just keeping up with all the things we’re doing,” he added.
The city is in the process of replacing City Hall, developing a master plan for the Shores property, discussing allowing short-term vacation rentals, considering law enforcement options that include starting a Del Mar police department and possibly undergrounding utility poles citywide.
“We’ve got too much stuff on the plate,” Worden said. “I just don’t see us wedging this in in an effective way and doing it justice in that same timeframe.”
“You want to keep the momentum of the project going but we’ve got workshops on short-term rentals,” Mosier said. “We’ve got other things going on. I don’t know when the best time to get the public’s attention is but my sense is it doesn’t make any sense to have workshops until maybe October or November.”
Mosier also noted that with the City Hall project and the Breeders’ Cup the city has “narrower windows for construction options.”
Mosier also said he had a problem with any plan that loses a significant number of parking spaces before the new City Hall is completed in two years.
“If you’re going to do all these changes doesn’t it make sense to do it the same time you’re doing streetscape in front of City Hall?” he asked.
“This is very much a project that could be phased,” City Manager Scott Huth said, adding that it might be better for timing because there is currently no funding for the work.
“The potential here is fantastic,” Worden said. “What could be is really great. … I’d like to move it along as quickly as possible but we’ve lived with it the way it is for decades. I’d rather take the time to get it right and bring the community along.”
Huth said in the interim staff will focus on updating property and business owners.
“There’s a lot of education that we have to do with those people,” he said.