EDITOR’S NOTE: This article includes links to full written responses from each candidate.
DEL MAR — In spite of their different backgrounds and ideas for improving the city, all four candidates competing for the two soon-to-be-vacant City Council seats have one key goal in common: preservation.
The idea of preserving the city’s beaches, property values and neighborhood character has become a focal point of the election season in Del Mar — affecting candidates’ stances on downtown revitalization, short-term rentals and local development.
Candidates Terry Gaasterland, Dwight Worden (the incumbent mayor of Del Mar), Dan Quirk and Brian Fletcher seem to agree on many of the central issues.
According to their responses at a September candidate forum, and their written stances on a variety of topics solicited by The Coast News, all candidates support relocating the train tracks away from the bluffs. All candidates are opposed to holding gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. All candidates oppose Measure R, which, if approved by voters, would exclude the shoreline protection area when calculating the permitted square footage of oceanfront homes — minimizing their allowable size. Most candidates vocally support putting the Del Mar Resort to a public vote.
However, they do differ on a few points. Below, we have summarized candidates’ views on a few of the big Del Mar issues:
Each candidate mentioned expediting the utility undergrounding process as one of their top priorities — a project currently anticipated to be complete in 10 to 15 years.
Both Quirk and Worden would like to “(make) downtown more vibrant,” with Worden supporting Streetscape, 941 Camino Del Mar and the revitalization of the Del Mar Plaza.
Quirk promotes the increased use of data analytics and electronic survey tools to improve the community decision-making process.
Gaasterland, a former member of the committee assembled to address sea-level rise concerns in Del Mar, put beach preservation high on her list.
Fletcher — having been a victim of a car break-in in Del Mar — advocates for crime prevention through Neighborhood Watch programs, in addition to “(saving) our beach and bluff neighborhoods.”
Sea-level rise Adaptation Plan
Gaasterland, Quirk and Fletcher all opposed submitting the city’s recently crafted Adaptation Plan as an amendment to Del Mar’s Local Coastal Program, an action that was passed by the City Council in early October.
Fletcher is concerned this process, which requires California Coastal Commission approval, could cause the plan to be “misused” by the Coastal Commission — a common point of contention with many residents (and candidates alike) who are strongly opposed to the potential implementation of managed retreat in Del Mar.
Gaasterland, who led the rewrite of the city’s Adaptation Plan to eliminate the option of managed retreat, looks forward to “getting the highest priorities underway,” such as beach sand replenishment and river channel dredging.
Worden, who voted to adopt the aforementioned resolution, said “it’s time to focus on implementing this plan through grant funding and securing the needed permits from federal and state agencies.”
A few candidates parted ways with how to best approach the city’s complete lack of affordable housing options.
Worden supports the implementation of the city’s “22 in 5” Affordable Housing Program, a plan to bring 22 affordable housing units to the city by the end of 2021.
Both Fletcher and Gaasterland hope to work with the state-owned Del Mar Fairgrounds to find a viable solution, with Gaasterland looking to evaluate “how to dedicate some of our existing apartment housing that is already in the affordable range.”
Quirk is also vying for affordable housing projects with smaller scale and impact than the proposed Watermark development (which is proposing six or seven affordable housing units) or the Del Mar Resort (which proposes 15).
“From an impact perspective, Del Mar would be far better off if we found a small piece of land to build 20 or so tasteful, city-owned studio or 1-bedroom apartments,” he said.
After the Coastal Commission denied the city’s plan to enact a 7/28 short-term rental policy (seven day minimum stay for a maximum of 28 days a year) and responded with its own more lenient plan, Del Mar filed a writ of mandate with the San Diego Superior Court to clarify who has land-use authority in the city.
Most candidates supported the city’s decision to file the writ, with Fletcher opposing it.
“I am disappointed with how this issue has divided our community,” he said. Fletcher hopes to collaborate with residents to find an option that maintains neighborhood character.
Gaasterland, who defended the 7/28 policy before the Coastal Commission, is awaiting the court’s decision, after which “we can determine the next steps and establish policies that work for and protect Del Mar’s residents and neighborhoods.”
Worden is also an advocate for the 7/28 program, which he helped craft. He said it allows citizens to rent out their homes while on vacation without turning said homes into “mini-hotels.”
Quirk, who said he would support allowing room-share short-term rentals, said the proliferation of short-term rentals “hampers the creation of neighborliness and street-local community.”
Follow the links below to see the candidates’ full written responses to various Del Mar issues:
Lexy Brodt covers all things Del Mar and Solana Beach for The Coast News, with a primary interest in coastal development. A North County native turned UW-Madison alumna, she has produced for Wisconsin Public Radio and reported for The San Diego Union-Tribune and Wisconsin State Journal.