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City OKs partnership for affordable housing

DEL MAR — Council members voted 4-1 at the Feb. 19 meeting to adopt a resolution initiating an informal partnership with the 22nd District Agricultural Association, a move that could help Del Mar meet its affordable housing requirement.The city is working to obtain a certified housing plan, something it currently does not have. Denial from the state again could result in penalties that include forced housing on park land or denial of all future building permits.

The city must show it can accommodate — but is not necessarily required to build immediately — 71 housing units. Of those, 22 must be affordable to those who fall in the low- or very-low income category.

Although it is a state-owned facility, the fairgrounds is within the boundaries of Del Mar so units on that property could be used to fulfill the city’s requirement.

In 2011, the 22nd DAA, which manages the fairgrounds, approved expansion plans at the 340-acre site that include rebuilding dormitory-style housing for seasonal employees.

As such, they wouldn’t qualify as affordable units. But with the addition of a kitchenette, they would.

Acknowledging there would be additional costs, the resolution states the city “will make its best effort to fund the added housing costs.”

“This is a rare occurrence where this is a win/win situation,” Councilman Don Mosier said, noting the agricultural district needs to fulfill housing needs for its employees and some would qualify for the affordable units.

“The critical component of ours is the contribution to the added expense of making these dwelling units meet (the state) requirement,” he said, adding that because there is a need for less than two dozen units, “the financial exposure of the city is limited by this proposal.”

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Councilman Al Corti, who cast the dissenting vote. “I’d like to see it occur.”

But Corti said he had some issues with the language in the resolution. He suggested adding a section that states the fairgrounds should comply with the state housing requirements just as the city of Del Mar.

“Why are we subject to it and not the fairgrounds?” he asked. Corti said he also had a concern with the phrase “best effort.”

Mosier noted that as a state-owned facility, the fairgrounds isn’t required to comply with the housing mandate.

The housing component of the 22nd DAA’s expansion plan is listed as a long-term goal, although the city hopes to work with fairgrounds officials to move that project to the short-term list.

“This project may take a while to come to fruition so the wording is a little bit vague simply because we can’t firmly commit a future council to action,” Mosier said in response Corti’s “best effort” concerns.

Fairgrounds officials have indicated they will adopt a similar resolution.

“I think this is a great opportunity … to identify something that can benefit both parties,” Mayor Terry Sinnott said

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