by Bianca Kaplanek | The Coast News
DEL MAR – Minimize traffic impacts and maximize public access were recurring comments during the first of two community meetings held to gather input for a proposed oceanfront resort on a 16 acre bluff-top parcel above North Beach, better-known to locals as Dog Beach.
Overall, the remarks at the May 6 event were fairly positive although some said it’s too soon to form an opinion since the plans are in the very early stages of development.
A Del Mar resident described the proposal as a “beautiful idea to balance a luxury resort with community access” and a “great way to realize commercial value and give back to the community.”
“I am so very excited for this project,” another participant wrote. “This land has needed to be developed to be enjoyed by all. What a statement to Del Mar.”
About 200 people –– nearly all seeing the property for the first time –– rotated among three stations to learn about and provide feedback on the project.
Samples of architectural styles and public amenities were included on boards where participants could “vote” on their favorites with green sticker dots.
A third area offered an explanation of the development process.
Architecturally, people seemed to favor a terraced look that included an ocean-view restaurant. Natural hiking trails and outdoor activities, such as movie nights, topped the amenities options.
Nearly all residents with Del Mar and Solana Beach addresses were sent invitations to the workshops, which were advertised in local papers, that service the area.
“I think an upscale hostel on the property would be a great addition to Del Mar, and the site has spectacular ocean views,” former Del Mar City Councilman Don Mosier said “My concerns are managing traffic on Via de la Valle during fair events… and preserving public access along the bluff. Adequate parking for employees on site is also important.”
Mosier also hinted that the development could expedite a long-delayed widening of Via de la Valle.
Hugh Cree, who lives east of Interstate 5 behind Flower Hill Promenade, said he frequently visits Scripps Preserve, a vacant southwest corner of the site, to take photos and enjoy the quiet.
“My concern is what the juxtaposition of the project will do to that,” he said. “A pool right next to it would ruin that whole atmosphere. Hopefully they will try to preserve that unique location and minimize activities that would create a lot of noise.”
In a written anonymous comment, a Solana Beach resident echoed his concern and asked the Encinitas-based Zephyr Partners –– to “respect” the preserve.
That resident also requested a portion of the tax revenue be shared with Solana Beach, which is adjacent to the northern portion of the lot.
Carl Rundlett, a Solana Beach resident who also lives east of the freeway, said walking trails along the edge of the property and an area for outdoor public events would be nice.
The Lazier family that owns the property at 929 Border Ave. is in the process of subdividing its 6.2 acres into five single-family residential lots.
Zephyr cofounder Brad Termini said when he was approached by a broker a little more than a year ago to buy and develop that parcel he felt it would be “an absolute shame” to build houses and keep the site closed to the public, as it has been for nearly a century.
He teamed up with Green, a luxury hotel developer, and the two are in a long–term agreement to buy the Lazier property, one lot to the north and another to the south.
Their vision is to redevelop the site into a resort with branded villas, restaurants, meeting space, a public access park and walking trails.
“While a resort that fits into the landscape of Del Mar is the centerpiece of the project, our goal is to create something that Del Mar and Solana Beach residents will think of as their own seaside gathering spot –– a cornerstone of the community where we can come to celebrate special events, entertain and enjoy, with no barriers, for the first time,” the developers wrote in a letter to Del Mar and Solana residents and business owners.
The current outreach effort is part of Del Mar’s required development process known as the Citizens’ Participation Program.
Although only one CPP meeting is mandated in the early stage of the project, the developers opted to hold two to accommodate as many people as possible. A second, identical workshop is scheduled for May 13 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Anyone unable to attend either meeting can provide input at firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to traffic concerns, some people were worried early on the project might impact dog beach.
Termini said he and his partner are “not here to take dog beach away.”
“People in Del Mar get it,”Green said. “They seem supportive of us creating a meaningful and cohesive project that benefits the community.”
After the second community meeting, additional comments focused on design will be solicited from Del Mar City Council. That will be followed by another CPP, a public scoping meeting, an environmental impact report and a Design Review Board hearing.
Then it’s back to City Council and, if approved, on to the California Coastal Commission.