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Politics

Del Mar Gets Ready For A New City Hall

An artist's rendering shows the design of the proposed Del Mar City Hall, which will have roof beams designed to resemble the needles of the iconic Torrey Pine, May 17, 2016.
Miller Hull Partnership
An artist's rendering shows the design of the proposed Del Mar City Hall, which will have roof beams designed to resemble the needles of the iconic Torrey Pine, May 17, 2016.

Del Mar Gets Ready For A New City Hall
The Del Mar City Hall has been in an old brick school house since the 1970s. It will be torn down next month to make room for a new one that's estimated to cost $16 million.

Del Mar city employees were recently emptying shelves and packing boxes as they prepared to leave the old City Hall, which will be torn down next month to make room for a new one that's estimated to cost $16 million.

The Del Mar City Hall has been in an old brick school house since the 1970s. About two years ago, the City Council started seriously considering a new city hall that was calculated to cost about $8 million. The project became more ambitious after polling the residents and the estimated cost doubled.

The new City Hall will be built on the same site on Highway 101 with a view of the ocean. It will include a city hall for city employees, a large public plaza for events, a TV station and a town hall with up to 250 seats. City Council meetings currently take place in a building with about 30 seats, and recent meetings have overflowed into the corridor.

City Councilman Don Mosier said the project has been a long time coming.

“The community has been behind building a new city hall, frankly because these old buildings are an embarrassment,” he said. “It’ s exciting to get started on construction because we’ve had a lot of public input throughout the process."

Del Mar has a population of just over 4,000 people, and about 2,400 of them are registered voters. Mosier said more than 900 of them responded to polls, and the majority wanted to see a larger project with space for public events.

“Del Mar is in very good financial shape,” Mosier said. “Much better than most cities, and we’re using about half of our financing capacity to fund this project.”

Mosier says the city can finance the $16 million cost without raising its sales tax. The council might also use some of the city’s $4 million reserve-fund to reduce the amount the city will need to finance over the next 30 years.

However, Mosier said, Del Mar is still considering whether to put a new sales tax on the ballot for other projects, such as burying electric power lines in the city.

City staff will work out of temporary offices on Jimmy Durante Boulevard, probably for the next couple of years, Mosier said. Though the contract to tear down the old city hall has been agreed upon, the project to build the new complex has yet to be put out to bid, so the final costs are still unclear.