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Del Mar sand squabble prompts possible ballot initiative

Posted: 6:11 PM, Jul 05, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-06 06:40:45Z

DEL MAR, Calif. (KGTV)— A beachfront battle between two property owners could end up being decided by voters in November.

One neighbor wants to build a home on a property that has been in the family for nearly a century. His neighbor, who owns of one of the city’s biggest beach houses, wants to limit how large neighbors' homes can be in the future. 

Last year, Sandra Naftzger submitted plans to build a home on her family’s Del Mar property. Her attorney Lee Andelin said every step of the way, the project has been met with opposition from their next-door neighbor, millionaire businessman Rick Thompson. 

The Naftzger's plans are legal under the city's current zoning ordinance, which allows property owners to use what is called the “mean high tide line” as the boundary to calculate the maximum home size.

Once blueprints for the Naftzger’s home were submitted to the city, Andelin said Thompson began a petition that would significantly shrink a home’s size potential. Instead of using the “mean high tide line,” he is proposing his neighbors use the more inland, “shoreline protection” area as the boundary.

Last week, Thompson submitted enough signatures for the Del Mar City council to consider the initiative.

"The number one concern is that it takes away property rights,” Andean said. "It prevents them from using the full-size area of their property to calculate floor area ratios."

Meanwhile, he said Thompson is currently in the process of renovating his own home, which is 1,700 square feet larger than what the Naftzger’s want to build.

"Incidentally, he owns the largest property along that stretch,” Andelin said. 

Thompson claims the goal of the petition is to protect the beach’s shoreline for everyone, and that the city bent the rules to approve the Naftzger’s plans. 

Thompson's attorneys sent 10News this statement:

“In November 2017, under legal pressure by Ms. Naftzger’s attorney, the City of Del Mar broke with its past practice and included the sandy beach area in determining how large the new residence could be.  

The proposed initiative does not affect the Naftzger project - that application has been deemed complete, with the sandy beach area included for the purpose of calculating the maximum size of that proposed residence.

The proposed initiative simply restores the City’s zoning interpretation to what  it was for many years  before it was changed last November.  While the City ultimately retains discretion, it’s important that the municipal code is clarified and applied consistently, so current and future homeowners are treated fairly.

Andelin is not convinced.

"It has nothing to do with protection on the beach, so it's not something that's in the interest of another - - other than this one homeowner,” he said. 

The City Attorney has started a report that assesses if the proposition would benefit the residents of Del Mar. City Council has until August 10 to determine if this initiative will make it onto the November ballot.