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Survey results confirm workshop consensus

DEL MAR — According to the results of a recent survey, the majority of respondents agree with approximately 40 people who attended a December workshop when it comes to where a new City Hall should be located and what it should include.

They differed slightly on how it should be paid for.

Of the 425 people who answered the 16-question survey, 358, or 84 percent, are residents, while 298, or 70 percent, identified themselves as property owners. About 14 percent, or 58 respondents, said they conduct business at City Hall, and 10 percent, or 43 people, own a business in the city.

Seventy percent said they agree or strongly agree a new City Hall should include administrative offices, while nearly 15 percent said they either disagree or strongly disagree with that statement.

About 72 percent, or 281 of the 392 people who answered the question, said they agree or strongly agree it should also include town hall meeting space. About 17 percent, or 72 respondents, disagree or strongly disagree with that use.

Community meeting rooms, public parking and a plaza or other open space were considered additional priorities for the facility.

People were given an opportunity to make other use recommendations.

The top suggestions among the 166 submitted include visitor-serving uses, a farmers market, galleries, housing, retail space and a theater.

As for the preferred location, nearly 76 percent favor using the existing City Hall site at 1050 Camino del Mar or private properties on Camino del Mar at Ninth Street, while 13 percent did not and almost 12 percent had no opinion.

Given a choice between the two options, 277 respondents, or almost 75 percent, listed the existing site as a preferred location.

When asked where else the city should consider building a new City Hall, 6 percent suggested the Public Works Yard, .5 percent said the Shores property, and 2 percent recommended either South Fair or the Garden Del Mar site.

To fund the approximately $8 million project, 63 percent support the use of lease revenue bonds, about 65 percent said the city should sell nonessential assets and less than 30 percent liked the idea of a public-private partnership.

About 5 percent of respondents said the city should not consider building a new City Hall, and the only resident who spoke at the Jan. 18 meeting when the results were revealed said people should have been asked what they thought was the highest and best use of the existing City Hall site.

Council conducted the survey to find out whether residents agree with the consensus of the December workshop, which is why the questions were worded as they were.

“I was gratified, I guess, that the survey did confirm what we learned at the workshop, and there is a preference for moving forward with a new City Hall,” Councilman Don Mosier said, adding that the goal of the process was to narrow down the options. “It’s important to keep this process on track.”

Councilman Al Corti agreed. “We should move forward,” he said. “That was the purpose of the survey. To those in the community that don’t (think we should) they should come down and use the public restrooms that the employees use here and they’ll see that the facilities are deficient and we should address them.”

Council members were surprised and somewhat disappointed respondents didn’t support a public-private partnership to help with funding.

“I don’t think people really understand what it is,” Mayor Lee Haydu said.

“It’s what’s happening across the country,” Councilwoman Sherryl Parks said. “I think we need to educate with full force now. … Why cut off any way to investigate the funding?”

Council directed staff in a 4-1 vote to move forward on locating the new facility at the existing site or a private office in the same area and further study finance options and the amount of space needed.

Councilman Terry Sinnott said he isn’t opposed to moving forward, “but I don’t think we’ve been given enough information to make this kind of decision.” He said there should be cost comparisond on several locations and a better explanation as to why council selected the site it did.

Mosier said his concern with that is it would potentially be “overloading staff with work that moves backward.”

He said it is clear from the workshop and survey that 1050 Camino del Mar is the preferred site.

“We need to pay attention to that,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to have staff do a financial analysis “for five sites we have no intention of using.”