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Del Mar sued over proposed civic center's environmental report.
By Edward Sifuentes | July 26, 2016

DEL MAR — A Del Mar homeowner is suing the city over the environmental report on its proposed downtown civic center, alleging the study is flawed and needs to be revised.

The city is in the process of demolishing the outdated City Hall at 1050 Camino Del Mar to make way for a new $18 million complex that would include a multipurpose town hall building, an administrative building and a civic plaza.

The lawsuit was filed in February by Steven Mack, who owns a home across the street from City Hall. The suit says the city plans to allow the civic center to be used for public and private functions, but the environmental report did not address how those events would affect nearby residents or how the city would mitigate impacts such as noise and traffic. Environmental reports are required by state law to identify and address any potential problems caused by a development.

City officials were not available for comment Monday and Tuesday, but in court documents they denied the allegations.

Everett DeLano, an attorney representing Mack, said his client doesn’t want to disrupt construction of the new complex, but he wants some checks on how it will operate. For instance, he said, Mack wants events limited to between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., with no more than 250 attendees. There should also be lighting, traffic and noise control plans.

“The city acknowledged there could be weddings, events, performances outdoors using amplified sound equipment, with no limits on the number of people, the number of cars, or the type of sound equipment,” DeLano said. “That’s like bringing a small outdoor concert into a residential neighborhood.”

The suit also points out that the city is setting aside several areas — which total over 11,000 square feet of space — within the 1.5-acre property for “future development,” but doesn’t provide any information on what those uses might be.

Officials said in the environmental report that any future development on the property would have to undergo its own design review and environmental analysis. City officials have floated the idea of building a cafe or a restaurant or some other commercial development on those areas.

DeLano said the state environmental regulations require that the city provide some analysis of those future uses.

The City Council unanimously voted in January to approved the environmental report prepared by San Diego-based Recon Environmental Inc.

DeLano said his client and city officials tried to negotiate an agreement but those talks failed.

Del Mar had been talking for years about how to replace its nearly 60-year-old City Hall. A former schoolhouse built in 1956, the building is about 9,200 square feet, but nearly half of it is limited to storage due to safety concerns. Demolition began on the old building last month and construction of the new facility is scheduled to begin in October.

During the work, a temporary City Hall has been created at the South Fair complex at 2010 Jimmy Durante Boulevard.

The Civic Center complex will feature a 3,200-square-foot town hall on the southwest corner of the existing City Hall property on Camino Del Mar.

Behind the town hall, a separate 9,250-square-foot administrative building would house city offices and workers and a 15,000-square-foot civic plaza would provide open space for community activities.

The complex will sit on top of an underground, two-level parking garage with about 160 spots, covering the eastern two thirds of the property along Camino Del Mar between Tenth and Eleventh streets.

A status hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for October.

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