Council OKs funds for design review

DEL MAR — Recommendations made by a somewhat controversial ad hoc group to create development design guidelines moved forward at the Jan. 3 meeting when council members agreed to pay a consultant to help prepare the rules and any associated code amendments.

They also approved funding to broadcast all Design Review Process Citizen Advisory Committee meetings and workshops this year.

The group was created in June 2015 to address the impacts some residential construction projects were having on community character. Members were asked to identify concerns and recommend solutions that could include changing current regulations and procedures.

The committee was controversial from the start as many residents said they believed the nine appointed members were anti-development.

Since its inception the group has made several recommendations which city officials approved, including revising the Citizens’ Participation Program and the adopting a good-neighbor handbook.

During an update presented this past July, a committee report stated that members believe many of the identified problems with the Design Review Board “stem from a lack of understanding and inadequate education for neighbors, applicants, and DRB members, as well as insufficient transparency and objectivity in the process and ordinances.”

Late last year the city asked four of its five as-needed consulting firms to submit proposals to help develop guidelines. RRM Design Group was selected and awarded a not-to-exceed $119,960 contract.

It includes a $20,000 contingency for additional meetings or work that may be identified during the committee’s review of the guidelines, which will be created to interpret Del Mar’s community plan and municipal codes.

Work is expected to be completed no later than October and presented to City Council for possible adoption in November or December.

During that time the city, in an effort to encourage as much public outreach and participation as possible, will broadcast all committee meetings and workshops associated with the development of the guidelines.

The price for each of the estimated eight meetings is $412, for a total of just under $3,300.

There had been requests last year to record the meetings but council members said that could be limited because of the cost and the city’s contract with Del Mar TV.

When they learned in September it would only cost $162 per meeting, they agreed to fund broadcasting for all remaining meetings.

However, that amount was eventually increased to $412 per meeting.

“The difference in cost is that the original amount only included recording the meetings through DMTV,” Ashley Jones, the administrative services director, said. “The additional $250 per meeting is the cost to stream the meetings through 12 Miles Out.

“When we originally provided the cost estimate to the City Council for consideration, we inadvertently only included the recording cost,” she added.

Councilwoman Sherryl Parks approved the broadcast funding, which was included on the consent calendar, but with a request.

“This is an unusual step for us to take … to broadcast an advisory committee,” she said. “We had a request from the community to do this. But I would like to see that we investigate the possibility of seeing how many people are viewing it.

“I wouldn’t like to set a precedent of having to televise our meetings,” Parks added. “It’s just an added expense and plus it doesn’t really encourage people to come down and participate that much.”

Currently all city council, Planning Commission and Design Review Board meetings are streamed live on the website and archived, allowing people to watch them real-time at home or view them later at their convenience.

Funding for the consultant and broadcast services are included in the existing operating and capital budgets.

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