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The council hope to have an agreement ready for presentation at their April 5 meeting. Photo by Dan Brendel
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Del Mar officials continue negotiations with referendum proponents

DEL MAR – City officials moved closer to avoiding a referendum on Ordinance 973 after further negotiations with the initiative’s proponents at the Del Mar City Council’s regular meeting Monday night.

Ordinance 973, which establishes 20 dwelling units per acre within Del Mar’s north commercial zone on Jimmy Durante Boulevard at San Dieguito Drive as part of the city’s housing element, was adopted by the council in October of 2020 before city resident Arnold Wiesel began the referendum process and acquired the necessary signatures.

At the city’s special council meeting last month, the cost of holding a special election on the referendum was discussed but ultimately it was decided to further negotiate with the proponents of the referendum in the hopes of getting it withdrawn.

Mayor Terry Gaasterland and Councilmember David Druker were tasked with leading the negotiations on behalf of the council.

The proponents provided a list of ten council actions and commitments they are requesting before they agree to withdraw the referendum.

One of those items concerns a stretch of San Dieguito Road that connects from the public section of San Dieguito Drive to the public Oribia Road. The section of road is currently privately owned and not up to city code.

At the proponents’ request, the city has agreed to provide design and road standards to bring the street up to code. The proponents have also asked the city to consider making it a public road once it has been brought to code.

“What I’m willing to do is to say I will be one of two councilmembers who will put that item on the agenda for consideration when the road has been improved to the city standards,” Gaasterland said.

There was no inclination how the council might vote on the item if and when it is finally brought to the table at a future council meeting.

“I can’t commit today to what the council may decide, but I can commit that we will bring it forward for council consideration,” Interim City Manager Ashley Jones said.

Other requests on the list dealt with the prohibition of short-term rentals for housing projects built under the ordinance, requests for design standards such as limits on rooftop structures and noise and light restrictions, a confirmation of certain city codes, to name a few.

The council agreed to place all requests to consider specific items on future agendas for full consideration.

The city is fighting an April 15 deadline with the California Department of Housing and Community Development to get its Housing Element finalized so the council directed the city attorney to return to the proponents to draft an agreement memorializing terms for the withdrawal of the referendum.

The council did not believe there would be enough time to get that agreement finalized with the proponents before their March 25 meeting but hope to have it completed to be presented at their meeting on April 5. There is also the possibility of a special meeting being called between the meetings on March 25 and April 5 should an agreement be reached sooner.

“What I’ve seen here is a firm commitment from all four of the councilmembers present to pursue these requests,” Gaasterland said. “There is an in-spirit agreement and it’s a matter of getting there.”

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