Del Mar council members recently formed an ad hoc committee to create a public art policy, something the city did not have last year when it approved the transformation of this dead Torrey pine tree stump into a piece of art. Neighboring Solana Beach used its policy guidelines to deny a similar project by the same artist along its Coastal Rail Trail. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek
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Ad hoc formed to create public art policy

DEL MAR — With opportunities to site public art and frequent offers of donated pieces, but no policy to guide the process, Mayor Sherryl Parks and Councilman Terry Sinnott were appointed to an ad hoc committee at the Jan. 4 meeting to develop program guidelines.

“It’s needed,” Sinnott said before the unanimous vote.

Del Mar does not have a policy or process for the acceptance, installation or maintenance of art on public or publicly assessable private property.

Prompted by a Del Mar Village Association committee made up of residents and art professionals, Parks and Sinnott asked their colleagues to consider a public art program for a variety of reasons.

According to the staff report, the city regularly fields offers for commissioned and donated art from private individuals.

Several significant capital improvement projects that have been approved for construction throughout the city provide opportunities to incorporate public art or artistic elements.

Commercial property owners and tenants frequently ask city staff if they can add artistic elements to their buildings or adjacent public spaces.

Additionally, DMVA views art “as a draw which could differentiate Del Mar from other cities in the region and be a positive economic driver for local businesses,” the staff report states.

Community groups such as the Del Mar Foundation, Del Mar Historical Society, Friends of the Powerhouse and Del Mar Rotary Club have also expressed interest in creating public art-related programming.

Parks and Sinnott will work with staff to create a draft policy that will be presented to the full council for consideration.

It will include elements such as a definition of public art, whether the program should be short- or long-term, funding mechanisms, a process for review, where the art should be located, who would own, maintain and insure it and a procedure for de-accession.

“In anticipation of having public spaces and some beautiful places to put art we decided to investigate how different cities do their art policy and see if we can’t come up with one ourselves,” Parks said.

Sinnott praised the DMVA for investigating the basic elements of an art policy, saying he and Parks will use “a lot of that good work” to create an outline that will be presented at a future meeting.

It is estimated that development and implementation will require about 125 hours of staff time.

In anticipation of a long meeting the item was moved to the consent calendar, which is voted on with a single motion at the beginning of each meeting. No one asked that it be pulled for discussion and no residents asked to address council about the creation of the ad hoc committee.