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San Diego County Supervisors support affordable housing on Del Mar Fairgrounds

View from the grandstand at the Del Mar racetrack, July 11, 2017.
Alison St John
View from the grandstand at the Del Mar racetrack, July 11, 2017.

In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to support affordable housing units on the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

The resolution was brought forward by Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer. It came after the city of Del Mar and the 22nd District Agricultural Association, the state agency that owns and operates the fairgrounds, agreed to explore the options.

"Providing space for 61 affordable housing units is no small task for an events center like this one. Particularly, doing so in a way that doesn't impede our master planning efforts," said Michael Gelfand, First Vice President of the fairgrounds governing board. "So we don’t yet know if affordable housing will really work here. But what we do know is that we’ll never get anything done if we don't start somewhere and if we don't commit to exploring our options."   


It could take two years to determine whether the plans on the fairgrounds are feasible, and housing advocates fear Del Mar will once again fail to comply with state housing laws.

"They’re three years into the cycle, which started in 2021, and they have yet to produce a single affordable unit," said Saad Asad, with the YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County, a grassroots organization that advocates for more abundant housing throughout the region.

He said Del Mar should be taking a "multi" approach to fulfill their housing compliance.

"I think the residents would definitely be more supportive of the fairgrounds, but if it takes until 2030, then they're not doing their fair share that other cities nearby are already making progress on," he said. "So its important to to consider other opportunities."

Seaside Ridge is the other housing project submitted to the city of Del Mar. It's a 259-apartment complex on an ocean bluff, with 85 units deemed affordable. But that project is held in litigation with the city and sitting at a standstill.


Del Mar mayor Dave Druker said the Seaside Ridge application was rejected because it is incomplete, and because of "the number of affordable housing."

While the fairgrounds project could be 100% low income, the Seaside Ridge project breaks down to 42 low income units and 43 moderate income units.

In a written statement, Darrel Pudgil, spokesman for the development said, "Finally, Del Mar — which doesn’t have a single unit of affordable housing — has stopped dragging its feet and is at least talking about affordable housing. But whether these talks actually lead to anything is anyone’s guess. And this project would barely cover half of the 113 affordable units that the city is required by the state to provide. If Del Mar was at all serious about meeting its state mandate, they would approve the ready-to-go Seaside Ridge project — which includes 42 low-income units — instead of hoping that something might eventually materialize at the fairgrounds many years from now."  

The supervisors vote on Tuesday does not open any funding for the study of housing on the fairgrounds, but does represent support on a county level.

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