DEL MAR — With the city and town hall complex set to be ready for occupancy by the end of May, council members and staff are working on plans to define who can use the new civic center, when and how often.
Unlike some other city facilities, such as Powerhouse Community Center and Seagrove Park, it won’t be available for use by private individuals or for-profit organizations, which means weddings, birthday parties and graduation celebrations will be prohibited.
While zoning doesn’t allow such gatherings, council members said they also don’t want the new facility to be used as a revenue generator, as has become the case elsewhere in the city.
“This is a civic center,” Councilman Dave Druker said. “It should only be used for civic types of activities. I don’t want to see it turned into a profit center.”
Residents Julie Maxey-Allison and Rick Ehrenfeld agreed.
“Please keep it … off limits for commercial purposes to include corporate functions, non-civic events, and wedding parties,” Maxey-Allison wrote in an email to the city. “Please keep future expansion areas within the same (spirit) of non-invasive construction and non-commercial utilization.
“We appreciate our lovely and quiet historic neighborhood and want to retain the character of the area,” she added.
Ehrenfeld spoke at the Jan. 8 council meeting and recommended listing only where amplified music would be allowed rather than where it will be prohibited.
“That way we don’t have this list that maybe has some gaps in it,” he said.
Druker recommended prohibiting all amplified music after 10 p.m. “anywhere, period.”
“Music, sound drifts,” he said. “The area around this is impacted already by traffic, by noise. … I don’t think we want, as a city, to add to that.”
Uses allowed in the former City Hall, annex and TV Studio will continue to be allowed. That includes city and community nonprofit business meetings and hearings, the farmers market, Del Mar TV, public and in-lieu parking and use as an emergency operations center.
Community nonprofit organizations can use the facilities for functions such as fundraising dinners and other special events but, Druker said, they must have a nexus with their purpose.
On the approved list of nonprofits are the Del Mar Foundation, Del Mar Community Connections, Friends of the Del Mar Library, Friends of the Powerhouse, Del Mar Village Association, the Del Mar Historical Society, the Del Mar Garden Club and Friends of Del Mar Parks.
They are the same groups that can use certain meeting rooms for no charge at L’Auberge Del Mar, a required benefit of the hotel’s specific plan.
Rules related to catering and alcohol will be the same as those used at Powerhouse.
Events for 250 people or more will not be allowed before July 2018 and only one per quarter will be permitted initially as a pilot program to address any unforeseen issues. The first farmers market is expected to be onsite in September.
Mayor Dwight Worden and Councilwoman Ellie Haviland will work with staff on the draft policies, which will be presented to the full council for final approval before May.
In other civic center news, council members agreed to leave a previously adopted circulation plan as is with one exception.
Cars will be allowed to exit the parking area onto 10th Street, but they will be directed to Camino del Mar. Right turns into the adjacent residential neighborhoods will be prohibited.
There had been talk of possibly opening a gated surface parking lot daily rather than just for special events, emergency access, the farmers market and large vehicles that won’t fit in the garage.
Residents, especially those who live on 11th Street, said doing so would negatively impact the neighborhood.
Council members decided against unlocking the gate, opting instead to stick with the plan they approved two years ago after what Don Mosier described as “a pretty intense and long meeting.”
“We had a lot of community input, and I think we reached … not a perfect compromise, but a productive compromise,” he said. “We had a circulation pattern that would work.
“That was hard work getting this consensus,” added Mosier, a councilman at the time. “I said, ‘We’re going to get this done.’ I put my honor on the line. … Let’s stick with the plan.”