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Council committee formed to address bluff-top resort

SOLANA BEACH — After volunteering, Mayor Mike Nichols and Councilman Dave Zito were appointed at the Sept. 27 meeting to serve with two council members from Del Mar on a newly created standing committee that will discuss items of mutual interest to each city and provide detailed recommendations or reports to colleagues.

Specifically, Nichols said, the group will focus on a proposed resort on the bluffs in Del Mar adjacent to Solana Beach.

“The idea was to be that these cities would share information, concerns, questions on this important project as it moves forward through the process,” Nichols said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for our city to have a voice, interact directly with the persons who will make the decision on this project since it’s outside of our city but it impacts our city far greater than it impacts their city.

“Just my opinion,” he added, “but I think we all agree.”

Encinitas-based developers Zephyr Partners and Robert Green Company are in negotiations to buy a 6-acre lot made up of three residential parcels on the southwest corner of the Via de la Valle/Camino del Mar intersection above North Beach, which is often referred to as Dog Beach.

They plan to build an oceanfront resort with about 250 rooms, 85 branded villas, 11 affordable for-rent units, restaurants, meeting space, a public access park and walking trails.

To help meet a California Coastal Commission goal to provide low-cost access to beaches, a visitors lodge will feature 46 rooms with reduced rates regulated by the state agency.

The development is in Del Mar but not adjacent to any houses. The Del Mar Fairgrounds and Brigantine restaurant are across the street to the east and North Beach stands between the proposed project and the closest homes in that city.

Solana Beach could potentially be more impacted because the resort would abut residential neighborhoods in the south part of that city.

“We love the quality of life here, and we’re seeing that might potentially be impacted by the Zephyr project,” 35-year resident Ana Maria Grace said. “I’m here to encourage you to move ahead with his opportunity to work collaboratively with Del Mar … even though I know that you’re all on many committees.”

Grace, who lives southeast of the project site, said she currently has a sit-down, whitewater view of the Pacific Ocean from her living room and patio and believes it will be impacted by multistory buildings on what is now a vacant lot.

She also said she has concerns about employees and visitors parking in her neighborhood and traffic on Via de la Valle.

Grace said it is currently “near impossible” to turn onto the roadway during the San Diego County Fair, thoroughbred horse races and KAABOO Del Mar.

“But hey, that’s part of living in Solana Beach,” she added. “We’d like to see some plans to mitigate the impact to us.”

The resolution states the committee will address issues of mutual interest to each city. Councilman Dave Zito suggested adding language that prohibits discussions about the Del Mar Fairgrounds since Solana Beach and Del Mar already have a committee dedicated to the state-owned facility, which also is in Del Mar but impacts Solana Beach.

City Attorney Johanna Canlas recommended appointing different members to the new panel so there aren’t overlapping interests.

Councilwomen Ginger Marshall and Jewel Edson sit on the 22nd District Agricultural Association Community Relations Committee with representatives from that board, which governs the fairgrounds, and Del Mar.

Del Mar Councilman Dwight Worden said he suggested setting up an informal committee “to meet quarterly, or as needed, to discuss and share info about the North Bluff Resort project.

“The idea is to communicate, and if that goes beyond the North Bluff resort project to other subjects of mutual interest, that is fine as well,” Worden added. “As to the North Bluff project in particular, we realize that its impacts spill over the boundaries of both cities and Del Mar very much wants to work with Solana Beach as the project progresses through the system.”

Worden said he will work on getting the issue on Del Mar’s council agenda, perhaps later this month or in early November.