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City orders report for ballot measure

DEL MAR — As the county registrar of voters works to verify signatures on a petition for a November ballot measure, council members at the June 6 meeting ordered a report for the initiative that could require voter approval for certain developments citywide.

A group opposed to the size of Watermark Del Mar, a 48-unit multifamily complex slated for the corner of Jimmy Durante Boulevard and San Dieguito Drive, submitted petitions to the city on May 18 with 505 signatures from residents supporting the ballot measure.

It will ask if voter approval should be required for developments in a commercial zone that are 25,000 square feet or larger, allow a density bonus or require a specific plan, a zoning code change or an increase in the building height limit, floor area ratio or lot coverage.

Only 286 signatures, representing 10 percent of registered voters in the county’s smallest city, need to be valid.

Arnold Wiesel, who lives near Watermark Del Mar and is leading the initiative effort, said his group collected the signatures without the use of paid gatherers.

A core group of about 20 volunteers completed the job by standing in front of the post office on four consecutive Saturdays.

The registrar has 30 days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, from the day the petition was submitted to determine whether the signatures are sufficient and qualified.

Council members were not required to act until then, at which point their choices would have been to adopt the ordinance, submit it to voters or order a report.

They opted for the report early because if the registrar doesn’t verify the signatures until the last possible day — around June 30 — tight deadlines could prohibit them from having sufficient information on the potential effects on Del Mar’s Municipal Code before deciding whether to adopt the initiative or put it to the voters.

The report will look into a variety of issues, including the fiscal impact of the measure, if approved, its effect on the city’s general and specific plans, including the housing element, and the potential impacts on infrastructure costs, the city’s ability to attract and retain businesses and the uses of vacant land.

Watermark includes seven affordable units that will help Del Mar meet the state-approved requirements of its housing element.

Councilman Don Mosier said the measure could make it impossible to fulfill that mandate and he wanted to know the consequences.

He said it may also overlap Measure B, a similar voter-approved law in place that governs large developments in the downtown area, and he wanted to know the resolution for that scenario.

The report must be presented to the City Council no more than 30 days after the petition is certified by the city clerk.