DEL MAR — Council members recently began taking steps to begin a much-needed makeover for the northern entrance to the city.
At the March 28 meeting, City Council unanimously agreed to release Coast Waste Management from its requirement to lease the buyback center at 2265 Jimmy Durante Blvd. and authorized the removal of the fence surrounding the site.
Coast Waste has been leasing the facility from what is now North County Transit District since 1978. Last June, as the city sought to conduct pilot programs for solid waste and recycling collection, it negotiated a one-year contract that required Coast Waste to assign its lease with NCTD to Del Mar and make monthly payments of $358 to NCTD on behalf of the city.
As part of that agreement, Coast Waste was directed to close the center. The city also removed a requirement that the trash company maintain the facility. Since August the fenced site has been locked and vacant.
The city negotiated the contract because there was interest from the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority and the Lagoon Committee to use the site for parking or as an interpretive center for the Coast to Crest Trail.
Last summer NCTD told city staff it would not honor the agreement at the current rate and would require a market lease rate instead.
After Christmas trees were illegally dumped outside the fence in January, Coast Waste asked to be released from the payment requirement because of the liability of maintaining a vacant site. With approval to terminate the lease, the company agreed to pay the balance, which is now two months of rent, to the city.
According to a analysis conducted by the city for NCTD, development of the entire 29,280-square-foot site is limited as it is partially under water because it is included in the old alignment.
“Our flood overlay zone and the setback requirements really do dictate the useful area — or the lack of useful area — on this site with the current regulations,” Planning Director Kathleen Garcia said.
According to staff estimates, about 3,800 square feet of the site could be developed, but any building would need to be on stilts at least 6 feet above the current grade. The site would have limited parking potential, and development would require at least a half dozen permits.
The entire parcel could, however, be developed for passive recreation or informational and educational uses with walking paths and viewpoints.
Based on the site analysis, NCTD suggested possible lease rates of between $40,000 to $57,200 annually for the 13,000-square-foot buyback center site as NCTD’s goal is to seek maximum return on all investments, according to the city staff report.
A chain-link fence with wooden slats, green fabric and barbed wire surrounds the buyback center site that includes the NCTD parcel, a city-owned parcel and a city right of way.
The run-down fence is unsightly and blocks the view of the lagoon and mountains from Jimmy Durante Boulevard and San Dieguito Road. It also serves as a shelter of sorts for homeless people who camp there, Mark Delin, assistant city manager, said.
However, removing the fence without some additional barrier could make the site available for illegal parking or dumping. The fence also hides the empty lot that is currently overrun with weeds, Delin said.
Council members favored taking down the fence. “I think it would be a great improvement,” Councilwoman Lee Haydu said.
Council directed staff to coordinate the fence removal by Coast Waste with NCTD so the site can be cleaned up. Meanwhile, the city plans to work with the garden club to beautify its portion of the lot. The city may also add rocks or barricades to prevent illegal parking.