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Elections 2020
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Election 2020: Del Mar City Council

DEL MAR — Del Mar candidates for local office, at a forum last month, differed primarily on tradeoffs between development and risks posed to local land use authority.

Councilman Dave Druker and Tracy Martinez, running as a slate, characterized the election as a choice between them and an opposing camp, including Bob Gans, Phil Blair and Glenn Warren.

Druker said he and Martinez “represent the large majority of you in town that are skeptical about government and do not want massive change to our small town.”

He told the Coast News he believes Gans and Blair in particular “have a propensity to allow overdevelopment.” He cited their support for the proposed bluff-top Marisol resort development (Measure G), which voters defeated in March.

Dan Quirk, a sixth candidate, unclaimed by either side, also opposed Measure G, he told the Del Mar Times.

Gans and Blair separately told The Coast News the main issue isn’t development per se, but the risk of losing local land use authority for failing to comply with state affordable housing law.

In recent weeks, no-votes from Druker and Councilwoman Terry Gaasterland twice blocked city council from adding an allowable residential use to the city’s North Commercial zone, as the city’s state-certified Housing Element requires. The state government has cautioned the city against noncompliance.

Potential consequences include the state overriding the city’s discretionary review processes — meaning development proposals would require ministerial approval only, but not political scrutiny — and up-zoning the very bluffs voters denied Marisol.

Warren called Druker and Gaasterland’s action “completely irresponsible,” and Gans called it “reckless.”

“We do not want to lose our local control to the state, and then [the state would] come in and tell us exactly how many [affordable housing] units and where they’re going to be. Because they might just select the bluffs as the easiest option,” Blair said.

“State-mandated high-density housing requirements could destroy our neighborhoods,” Martinez said. She pointed to alternatives outlined in a June report she coauthored with other members of the city’s Housing Element Ad-Hoc Citizens’ Task Force. The report prioritized repurposing various city-owned properties and the Del Mar Fairgrounds for affordable housing, as well as encouraging homeowners to build accessory dwelling units (“granny flats”).

Quirk spoke in favor of those three avenues, as well.

Gans told The Coast News he supported the Marisol project because it would’ve generated $8 million in annual tax revenue, 22 units of affordable housing and funds for beach sand replenishment.

Blair said it was better than the alternative, which could include a gated community of multi-million homes, inaccessible to the public.