COMMENTARY Our Guardian Angels
Tom Sohn | 26th Street | Design Review Board 2008-2012 (Chair 2012) | Shores Park Advisory Committee 2014-Present (Vice-Chair)
There has been a lot of talk this election season about the “old guard” in Del Mar and how they have held back progress. In the same vein, this “old guard” is described as a small group of “anti-improvement” and “preserve the status quo” insiders.
This got me to thinking. Who are these people and what has this “old guard” done to hold us back? Let’s get to the bottom of this!
Perhaps this “old guard” are the ones who prevented Powerhouse Park from becoming a restaurant row in the early ‘80s. Some may not know that these “anti-improvement insiders” rallied the community against tremendous opposition to raise money and assist the city in buying the land that is now Powerhouse Park.
There is currently some irony in that certain candidates’ campaign websites feature Powerhouse Park as the beautiful community backdrop yet the rhetoric and proposals of these same candidates are the ones that would have turned Powerhouse Park, a Del Mar jewel, into a bunch of unneeded restaurants.
But let’s get back to this “old guard.” They could be referring to the “old guard” who oversaw the creation and decades of enforcement of the Design Review process and the DRB. If you wake up in the morning and enjoy a view of the ocean along with your morning coffee or enjoy a glass of wine from your backyard deck as the sun sets, you have the DRB to thank. Your DRB experience may have been a time consuming and possibly contentious process, but you have your enjoyable view protected.
Also, if you have recently appraised your home or have seen your neighbor sell theirs, you have the DRB and this mysterious “old guard” to thank for the 3x plus increase in property values over the last 20 years. These unnecessary regulations greatly escalated the value of your home.
Maybe the sinister “old guard” is the one that led the charge in preserving Crest Canyon. There was a time when Crest Canyon was to become a residential development. Whether you take a jog, walk your dog, or enjoy the plant life in Crest Canyon, say hi to the ominous “old guard” who must be in there somewhere.
Regarding our downtown, this “old guard” could perhaps be the ones that created the anti-improvement regulations that helped oversee the total remodel of L’Auberge hotel. Or the ones that also watched the old out-of-date hotel at the south end of town turn into Hotel Indigo Del Mar (a pretty cool place if you haven’t been there). Or the ones that permitted the heavy tenting of Pacifica Del Mar to allow our residents “outdoor” seating year round. Or oversaw the streetscape improvements near the beach and Jimmy Durante. Or helped build the new state-of-the-art lifeguard tower. Or the complete remodel of Poseidon or the courtyard improvements next to Starbucks or the creation of the Tasting Room or right-sized sidewalk cafes…sorry, listing all of these anti-improvement improvements is tiring. Thanks “old guard.”
Is Del Mar perfect? Definitely not. Do we intentionally move at a slower pace? Absolutely and that is a good thing, no, a GREAT thing. If you think an out-of-town developer is going to come into a lesser regulated town, build to a rational scale with community in mind, I invite you to check out some of the overbuilt ghost towns of Silicon Valley or even the viewless neighborhoods of Mission Beach. We don’t have that problem here in Del Mar. You know why? Must be that “old guard.”