The Coast News Group
Arnold Wiesel, who lives near Watermark Del Mar, protests the proposed multifamily development slated for the intersection of Jimmy Durant Boulevard and San Dieguito Drive during a Jan. 30 open house introducing the project. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek
CommunityDel MarDel Mar Featured

Revised Watermark plans debuted

DEL MAR — The public got its first look at a revised proposal for a multifamily housing complex on a vacant lot on Jimmy Durante Boulevard and San Dieguito Drive during two Community Participation Program meetings hosted by the developer Jan. 28 and 30.

Watermark Del Mar, which would be located on the southeast corner of the intersection, includes 48 units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms in one- and two-story buildings, 112 parking spaces in an underground structure, a pool and spa area and a small recreation room.

It will include seven affordable units, four of which will be deeded at no cost to a nonprofit benefit corporation selected by the city — most likely Del Mar Community Connections — which will keep all the rental income.

“That’s unheard of,” Mitch Thompson of Thompson Consulting said. “”I’ve never seen any developer ever donate units.”

Thompson, who has been in the real estate and banking business for 40 years, said the estimated value of the donation is at least $1.5 million.

The rental range for the affordable units will be from $1,594 to $2,278. They will be available to people and families who make between $46,250 and $91,100 annually.

The affordable units will help the city meet the state-approved requirements of its housing element.

More than 100 people, many of them from the adjacent neighborhood, attended the event. Developer Tony Cassolato, of San Dieguito Land Partners LLC, said about 90 percent of the comments were positive.

“Some neighbors expressed concern about the project,” Kristen McDade Byrne, the marketing director, said. “Some specific suggestions were also received that the team will be reviewing.”

Cassolato stressed that the project is in the early stages of development.

“Nothing is set in stone,” he said. “Right now we’re just here to listen and accommodate some of the concerns.

“We want the right project for Del Mar,” added Cassolato, an Encinitas resident with family members who have lived in Del Mar for 65 years. “We want this to be a great project. We want to be good neighbors. We want constructive feedback. Come in and tell us how we can make it better.”

An hour before the Jan. 30 event about a dozen residents gathered in a driveway at the home of Arnold Wiesel to share their thoughts on the project.

Many said they support development on the 2.3-acre lot, currently used for parking during events at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

However, they oppose the current plans because, they said, it contains too many units, will negatively impact traffic at an already problematic intersection, violates existing setbacks and height restrictions and blocks views of the bluff and hillsides.

They also have concerns about noise and light, for-sale or for-rent signs being displayed and a lack of conformity to the community character.

With the open house ongoing, Wiesel, who lives up the hill just south of the proposed development, stood on the corner with a sign that called Watermark One Paseo Jr.

He said he and his group plan to be on the corner at least once a week with similar signs. He and others said the city should allow voters to decide what is built on the site.

Because it is located in the north commercial zone, several legislative changes and discretionary permits must be approved before residential units are allowed.

Land use modifications require community plan and local coastal program amendments and a new zoning map.

All three actions mandate action by the Planning Commission, the City Council and California Coastal Commission and are subject to an environmental review.

Also needed are Design Review Board, coastal and floodplain development, conditional use and land conservation permits.

Zoning changes can be made using one of two methods. A sequential process would initially create a new zoning chapter that could not contain any deviations or assess public benefits.

A specific plan, which creates a special set of development standards for a particular area, encompasses all the legislative actions and regulatory development parameters and allows the public benefit of the project to be addressed.

City Council is allowing Watermark to use a specific plan. Wiesel’s group said they plan to gather signatures to force a vote if necessary.

Some also said they would accept a project with about 28 homes. Cassolato said a reduction that size would not make the project financially feasible.

He also said traffic studies indicate Watermark will generate less traffic than a previously approved commercial project on the site.

Visit for more information or to provide comments. There will be several more opportunities for input as the project goes through the process.

Even if all goes as planned the groundbreaking won’t take place for about two years.