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City hall options now back to three

DEL MAR — Council members have again changed the number of city hall options that will be presented to residents, but they also approved two items at the Dec. 15 meeting that will move the project forward.

They agreed unanimously to issue a request for qualifications, action that will eventually lead to selecting an architect and design team even though, at this point, no one is sure what will be included in the development.

Proposals will be assessed on 10 criteria, including an understanding of Del Mar, its issues and its design review and planning processes, as well as a commitment to sustainable design.

Additionally, firms must show an ability to create lively civic spaces, maintain community character and work with the public on the design.

Because the city could receive up to 100 responses to the RFQ, a selection committee will be formed to review them and create a short list of those that will be asked to submit more detailed proposals.

Mayor Al Corti and Don Mosier volunteered to serve as council liaisons on the committee, which will also include a Design Review Board member and two residents, who will be selected in January.

Council members also awarded a contract, not-to-exceed $25,000, to Everyone Counts to conduct an online ballot for register voters to choose the city hall alternative that will be built.

Everyone Counts has experience working with several government entities on municipal elections and is used for The Oscars and Emmys.

The firm will work with the city to create the ballot language. A kiosk will be set up at 1050 Camino del Mar for those who don’t want to weigh in online. Mail ballots will also be available.

In November, council directed staff to go forward with three options for a new civic center. But at the Dec. 1 meeting they narrowed the choices to two, fearing no one alternative would receive a majority vote.

After assurance from Everyone Counts that such a scenario could be avoided, they opted to present three choices to residents. All will include a city hall, town hall and plaza.

One option has the civic center buildings constructed at grade with 60 to 70 parking spaces, leaving little or no opportunity to expand in the future, for an estimated $7.4 million.

A second alternative provides 160 parking stalls. Buildings would be constructed on a “podium” covering most of the site with additional parking under the podium for an estimated cost of $16.4 million.

There would be about 20,000 to 25,000 square feet of additional podium area to add future commercial uses, offering the most flexibility for expansion.

The third choice, at an estimated cost of $12.4 million, is similar to the second but features only a partial podium and 140 to 160 parking spaces. While there is flexibility to expand, the podium area is reduced to about 11,000 square feet.

“My personal desire is that we don’t keep asking this question,” Councilman Terry Sinnott said. “We can’t stop the process. We have to get going on this.”

If all goes as planned, the election could be held in early February, with results available for discussion by council in March.