DEL MAR — Talks regarding the construction of low-income housing on the Del Mar Fairgrounds have currently been put on hold as both the City of Del Mar and 22nd District Agricultural Association prepare to continue housing plans later this year.
In October of last year, Del Mar sent a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to the 22nd DAA, the state agency in charge of managing the fairgrounds, requesting to build at least 54 affordable units on the property as a way of reaching requirements assigned to them by the state Department of Housing and Community Development as part of the city’s housing cycle.
Despite the 22nd DAA’s decision not to enter into the MOU with the city at that time, when Del Mar adopted its 6th Cycle Housing Element in May of this year, a key step in reaching its housing requirements remained the construction of low-income housing on the Del Mar Fairgrounds property.
Both sides entered into planning discussions about affordable housing but decided in early June to hold on further talks until after the summer.
“The fairgrounds staff is really a skeleton crew at the moment,” Mayor Terry Gaasterland told The Coast News. “All of their efforts were going into running the fair for the first time during COVID and now getting horseracing going for the very first time since COVID. So we agreed that we would simply wait until we were all kind of back in the saddle in September.”
The pause in discussions is not indicative of a stalling of the housing conversation.
“It’s pretty clear that workforce housing is going to be a benefit to the fairgrounds. And I would say the discussions and the interactions have really been very positive,” Gaasterland told The Coast News. “We’re really in good discussions when we’re in the room with them.”
One of the open questions is the interest from Solana Beach, whose city limits border the fairgrounds, in participating in the construction of affordable housing.
Gaasterland told The Coast News the city and 22nd DAA need to settle on the location and the density of development before including Solana Beach.
“And Solana Beach understands because what’s at stake if we don’t come up with this solution at the fairgrounds then we will be penalized,” Gaasterland.
Getting housing constructed on the fairgrounds will continue to be a top priority for the city’s Housing Element. If the plan were to fall through, the city’s contingency would be housing construction on the city’s North Bluffs.
“If we don’t figure out the solution then we will have to develop there at 25 units per acre,” Gaasterland said. “And that will also be how Solana Beach benefits once we get the 54 units planned out because it will mean the bluff will be protected for another eight years.”
Representatives from the 22nd DAA were not available for comment on the housing situation but a spokesperson told The Coast News that “both groups had some homework to do before considering any action to move forward.”