Professional Commercial and North Commercial Zoning Code Amendment (ZA18-002)

Project Description

The Project proposes a Zoning Code Amendment and Local Coastal Program Amendment to implement the City’s certified Housing Element by allowing multiple-dwelling unit residential as an allowed use within the existing North Commercial (NC) and Professional Commercial (PC) zones. A General Plan Amendment (amending the Del Mar Community Plan) will also be required to update the existing land use categories. The maximum density range would be set at 20 dwelling units per acre. The amendment would allow for properties to develop or redevelop with a mix of commercial and residential uses; solely as multiple-dwelling unit residential; solely as commercial; or solely as light-industrial (NC zone only) in accordance with the use and development limits of the zoning code. The existing setbacks, floor area ratio, lot coverage, and height limits currently applicable to the NC and PC zones will still apply.

To receive updates regarding the NC/PC Zoning Amendment project, please click this link: NOTIFY ME

It is important to note the following:

  • The proposed amendment will implement Housing Element Programs 2-E and 2-F by increasing the City’s housing capacity in two existing commercial zones consistent with the City’s certified Housing Element and State Law.  
  • No physical development or construction of dwelling units is proposed.
  • Future development would be subject to discretionary permit review (Design Review Board) and approval consistent with the Del Mar Municipal Code.
  • No amendment to the PF (Public Facilities) zone is proposed; however, the project will analyze potential environmental impacts if 20 dwelling units per acre were also allowed in the PF zone (excluding Shores Park) via a separate amendment if necessary in the future to further expand the City’s housing capacity.
  • The State is actively pursuing enforcement action against local jurisdiction’s that fail to meet housing obligations and intends to hold cities accountable as evidenced by their recent legal challenge of the City of Huntington Beach (January 2019). Similar challenges can be expected for cities that reject or intentionally impede implementation of certified Housing Element Programs.

Background - Del Mar’s Certified Housing Element and Housing Programs

On May 20, 2013, the City Council adopted the 2013-2021 Fifth Cycle Housing Element as part of the Del Mar Community Plan.   On June 6, 2013, the Housing Element was certified by the California State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD).  

The certified Housing Element includes goals and implementation strategies, referred to as Housing Programs, to promote and accommodate housing for all segments of the community, including lower-income households. The certified Housing Element (Programs 2-E and 2-F) requires the City amend the NC and PC zones to allow residential up to 20 dwelling units per acre (du/ac) for projects with an affordable housing component.  This density is identified in the certified Housing Element as a density able to support affordable housing, per the State of California.  The entire certified Housing Element (PDF) is available on this website. 

While the overarching goal of the Housing Element is to increase the capacity to create affordable housing units, the law does not currently require cities to actually construct any affordable units.  Instead, housing law requires that the City demonstrate its land use designations and review processes provide realistic opportunities for the development of new, affordable units to occur.  It should be noted that the City of Del Mar is currently the only city in the region without built affordable housing units. 

If the City does not meet its affordable housing obligations, various negative impacts can arise, including but not limited to:

  1. Requirement for additional affordable units, levied as a penalty by the State; 
  2. Decreased competitiveness when applying for state and local grant funds; and
  3. New State legislation that can mandate action and enforcement.

To learn more about Del Mar’s housing policies and good faith efforts to implement the housing program in accordance with State Law, view the following information on the City’s website:

Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

Environmental review is currently underway. The purpose of an EIR pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is primarily to disclose potential environmental impacts to the public. The EIR for this project will be a Program EIR as it addresses potential impacts of future actions that may result from the zoning code amendment. Analysis and mitigation will be provided programmatically so that it may be implemented at the project level as future discretionary actions contemplated in the program are proposed.  Topics to be addressed in the EIR include:

  • Aesthetics
  • Air Quality
  • Land Use and Planning
  • Energy
  • Noise
  • Transportation
  • Biological Resources
  • Public Services
  • Geology and Soils
  • Cultural Resources
  • Recreation
  • Tribal Resources
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • Hazardous Materials

The EIR will identify whether an impact would occur based on identified thresholds of significance, whether it would be above (ie: noise level) or below (ie: harm water quality) standard.

EIR Notice of Preparation Comments received (PDF)

If you have comments or questions regarding the environmental review associated with this project, please send them to Shaun McMahon, Management Analyst at

Project Schedule


Draft code amendment and collect information for environmental analysis

Summer 2019

Prepare the draft environmental document

Fall 2019

City Council Workshop for input on draft environmental document

Winter 2019

Planning Commission hearing for input on draft environmental document

Winter 2019

Planning Commission recommendation hearing

Early 2020

City Council hearings to certify the environmental document and adopt the ordinance

Early 2020

Submit the Local Coastal Program Amendment for Coastal Commission certification

Early 2020

Report status of Housing Program Implementation to State Housing and Community Development (NCD)

April 2020

Comments or Questions

If you have any comments or questions regarding this project, please contact us at the info below:

Contact Person:Shaun McMahon, Management Analyst
Phone Number:858-755-9313