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Del Mar
The City of Del Mar is facing penalties for its failure to comply with state housing law. File photo
Community CommentaryOpinion

Commentary: An open letter to Tracy Martinez

By Dwight Worden

I just received the referendum petition being circulated by the Hillside Community Association (HCA) seeking to repeal zone changes necessary for Del Mar’s compliance with state housing law. 

As a newly elected councilmember and member of HCA, please speak up against this ill-advised referendum.  Show Del Mar that you will represent the best interests of the entire city.

Here’s what is at stake.

• Upon city clerk certification that the referendum has acquired the required 10% signatures, by state law the zoning ordinance is immediately suspended.

• Suspending the zoning will prevent Del Mar from complying with state housing law. Del Mar is out of compliance, as the State has told us in its September 30 letter.

• Decertification of Del Mar’s Housing Element will, predictably, follow.

• Decertification will disqualify Del Mar from obtaining grant funding needed for a fairgrounds housing project.

• Inability to fund a fairgrounds housing option will lead toward “by right” development at North Bluff and South Stratford with potentially hundreds of units.

To offset the 51 affordable units we propose to locate on the fairgrounds would require 250+ units on North Bluff and South Stratford under our 20% set-aside rules.

Nobody wants that, but that is what the referendum puts at risk. Our one shot for success is to fund the fairgrounds program with grant funds, and meet our obligations there, rather than North and South Bluff. 

All that stops if we are decertified.

North Bluff and South Stratford are the only viable alternatives to the fairgrounds for 20 units/acre designation. 

Other options have been reviewed and are too small, have environmental or access constraints, or other disqualifying factors. Please, check with city staff or other reliable sources to verify what I am saying.

I believe in the right to vote. But this is different. The State’s housing hammer hangs over Del Mar.

I urge you to support the broader city interest over the interests of your neighborhood. 

This isn’t easy—it’s your neighborhood, friends, and supporters promoting the referendum. But, that’s the job of an elected councilmember.

I am sharing this letter publicly in the hope of reaching those who might be considering signing the referendum petition. I ask that you join me in that effort.

Councilman Dwight Worden serves on the Del Mar City Council. Councilwoman-elect Tracy Martinez will join the Del Mar City Council in December.