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Story poles on the 16-acre lot off of Via De La Valle have provoked a contentious response from the Solana Beach community. Photo by Lexy Brodt
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Solana Beach council digs in against Del Mar Resort

SOLANA BEACH — City Council is taking a stance against the Del Mar Resort.

The potential bluff-top resort — which would be in Del Mar but predominantly impact Solana Beach — was the center of nearly two hours of public comment and discussion at the Oct. 10 City Council meeting. The development would introduce a 251-room hotel, 76 resort villas, four restaurants, 15 affordable housing units, a bluff trail and several other amenities to a 16-acre lot off of Border Avenue. The property is currently zoned for single-family private residences.

The council voted 5-0 to send a resolution to the city of Del Mar opposing “any re-zone (of the site) that would increase the intensity and density of development that could negatively impact the city of Solana Beach and its residents,” vocalizing their concern about view obstruction and community impact.

Zephyr CEO Brad Termini, left, spoke to Solana Beach City Council and staff at the Oct. 10 meeting. “We’re in the middle of a process,” he said. Photo by Lexy Brodt

Several consultants with Zephyr — one of the developers of the project along with the Robert Green Company — spoke in support of the resort during public comment. Zephyr’s CEO, Brad Termini, addressed many of the primary concerns over the potential development, which is estimated to cost $500 million — one of Zephyr’s largest projects yet.

“We have no fantasy that the project as proposed today will be the one that is ultimately approved and built,” he said.

Termini said that in conjunction with building the resort, Zephyr plans to finance infrastructure upgrades to Via de la Valle that would reduce area congestion “beyond today’s level.”

He also assured the council that the company is working with several geologists to determine the proper and safe bluff setback for the project — a concern prompted in part by recent bluff collapses in Del Mar.

Six people — not including speakers employed by or otherwise linked to Zephyr — spoke to the merits of the resort plans, including resident Dylan Ramsey, who lauded the project as a “responsibly built hotel with public access, beach access and somewhere I can walk my dog.”

“I think a hotel is a better option than a bunch of custom homes,” he said.

Seven residents out of the 80-plus people in attendance spoke against the resort, a contrast to the sign-toting, vocally opposed crowd that attended the project’s second Citizens’ Participation Program meeting in August.

Carla Hayes, who started a petition against the resort, summarized the input she has seen on the petition’s comment section as — “it’s too big, it doesn’t fit.” The petition has garnered about 1,500 signatures.

A vandalized sign illustrating the initial set of design plans for the Del Mar Resort. The sign was removed the day after the Oct. 10 City Council meeting. Photo by Lexy Brodt

“The proposed project is over the top,” Councilman Peter Zahn said after public comment.

Mayor David Zito found it “personally disappointing” that the plan did not properly intuit the concerns of residents of the Del Mar Beach Club — the community directly north of the lot.

“The project that came up after a year of work and a year of public input was a 46-foot wall that basically destroys their lives,” he said.

Councilwoman Lesa Heebner called the resort a “complete tax transfer from Solana Beach to Del Mar.”

“We will be losing so much property value,” she said. Del Mar would stand to acquire revenue from the resort through property taxes and the transient occupancy tax.

When reached for comment, Heebner said the attendees in the room at the Oct. 10 meeting did not accurately represent the community’s perspective on the resort.

“The story poles speak for themselves,” Heebner said.

In a phone interview with The Coast News, Termini confirmed the project will be scaled down. He emphasized that the developers will “continue to do tireless community outreach in Solana Beach and Del Mar.”

The draft Environmental Impact Report will be released in November or December of this year, and a revised plan will be presented in January. It is anticipated that the Del Mar City Council will make a final decision on the updated resort plans in spring or summer of 2019.