Del Mar hires consultant to help meet affordable housing goal

DEL MAR — In an effort to address the city’s complete lack of affordable housing, council members at the May 1 meeting approved a $100,000 contract with a consultant to create a plan to add nearly two dozen units by 2022.

LaSar Development Consultants was the only firm that responded to a request for proposals issued last month to develop what the city is calling its “22 in 5” affordable housing program.

The county’s smallest city, Del Mar has about 4,200 residents living in approximately 2,600 housing units. Not one falls in the affordable range, although five families are subsidized in apartments.

According to the city’s state-approved housing element, the household income of 79 percent of the residents is considered moderate or above. The other 21 percent — many of them elderly — are in the low, very low and extremely low income categories.

According to the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, Del Mar is required to show it can provide 12 units in those three categories. Because the city failed to have a certified housing element from 2003 to 2012, it was assessed an additional 10 units, bringing the total requirement to 22.

To achieve its fair share of the regional affordable housing needs, additional strategies are needed to produce affordable units in Del Mar, the RFP stated.

The Del Mar Housing Corporation recommended seeking help from a consultant.

The scope of work includes gathering relevant information and data, assessing housing sites, developing a financing plan and creating an implementation program.

The consultant will also be required to conduct public outreach to stakeholders and community groups and make presentations to City Council.

Additional responsibilities could include preparing an assessment of existing housing stock and identifying potential opportunities for affordable housing acquisition, rehabilitation and/or conversion.

The consultant may also be asked to identify constraints, prepare financial pro-formas on preferred options and recommend priority projects to achieve the 22-unit goal.

But Planning Director Kathy Garcia said the main focus is on developing a program.

“Any identification of specific properties would not necessarily occur,” she said.

Watermark Del Mar, a multifamily development proposed for the southeast corner of Jimmy Durante Boulevard at San Dieguito Drive, is slated to include either six or seven affordable units.

“These could be included in the 22 but the Watermark project is not yet approved,” Garcia said.

The city has also been in discussions with the Del Mar Fairgrounds, which is working to rebuild dormitory-style housing for seasonal employees as part of an expansion plan. With the addition of a kitchenette, those units would qualify as affordable.

They could be used to fulfill the city’s requirement because the state-owned facility is within the boundaries of Del Mar. But completion of that project is many years away.

The lack of response to Del Mar’s RFP was due to the small scale of the project, according to the staff report. Potential proposers said many affordable housing consultants concentrate on larger projects with 200 units or more.

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