The Coast News Group

Vote to incorporate was heated and bitter

DEL MAR — When residents celebrated the city’s 50th anniversary in July at Powerhouse Park it was in vast contrast to the 75 percent of the villagers who went to the polls to decide whether to become the county’s 11th city.
That was decided by a split decision when only 74 votes separated the yes and no issue.
The election was bitterly contested. The Chamber of Commerce was opposed. Drugstore owner Nick Giordano, who became the chamber spokesman, found many of his longtime customers were driving to Solana Beach for their pharmacy needs.
Stu Green, the chamber’s charter president who had served three terms, was a behind-the-scenes worker and for good reason. He was the unofficial village mayor and served as a county planning commissioner that made planning and zoning decisions for the village. The “go to” guy.
As the election neared, two opposition committees sprang into action. One of them, the Del Mar Property Owners Committee, was headed by Giordano.
Already active was the Del Mar Committee For Self Government and Del Mar Civic Association, its chairman was Waldron Cheyney, a retired Army colonel. It touted the Lakewood Plan that was modeled after an L.A. County city that provided for all services to be contracted with the county. A budget not to exceed $76,000 was envisioned.
The village was certified as a city by the Secretary of State on July 15, 1959. Tom Douglas, a builder who had succeeded Cheyney on the incorporation committee, was elected mayor. The other four members of the charter council were Clayton Jack, who was elected deputy mayor, Henry Billings, Elwood Free and John Barr.
Council chambers were in the Del Mar Hotel until the electric company doused the lights because the hotel had failed to pay its bill. Council members moved to a second story building between 13th and 14th streets, each lugging two folding chairs belonging to the hotel for use as start up furniture at the new location.