A Conversation with Jen Grove

Executive Director of the Del Mar Village 
Association Discusses Past Year

The Del Mar Village Association wants to see Del Mar thrive as a 21st century neighborhood while at the same time remain true to its historic small-town roots.

DMVA is a Main Street organization, a methodology which works with local businesses, city government, commercial property owners and residents in order to support mom-and-pop shops, thus maintaining the community-oriented vibe of Del Mar Village.

“Main Streets are focused on keeping downtowns vital and economically healthy,” says Jen Grove, executive director of the DMVA. “They developed because big box stores–in the Midwest more than this area–were taking away the commerce from downtowns. And so the idea was how can you invigorate and revitalize the downtown, bring it back to self-empowerment, keep it economically healthy, bring people back in, to keep the small stores–the mom-and-pops–operating.” Other communities in San Diego utilize the Main Street approach, including Encinitas, Cardiff, Leucadia and North Park.

The trademarked Main Street Four-Point Approach covers the areas of design, economic restructuring, promotion, and organization. “What we represent is three distinct groups,” says Grove. “Residents, commercial property owners, and businesses. And the idea is that everyone is a stakeholder in the downtown. And because of that by working together in concert we are able to do a better job of representing the downtown, of making sure that we put things in that don’t upset the residents, and that we do things that will economically help businesses.”

In terms of the aesthetic appearance of Del Mar, the DMVA is working to incorporate more public art into the area. For instance, they are currently considering emulating a unique look created in the Cedros Avenue Design District in Solana Beach. “They’ve got fish that go across the crosswalk,” says Grove. “The idea is, are there ways to aesthetically bring in art and other kind of more novel streetscape components as opposed to just putting in the concrete and steel that you normally see in a downtown.”

DMVA is also dedicated to preserving Del Mar’s history and making sure the next generation of Del Martians has a sense of their community’s past. Every year the third-graders at Del Mar Heights get to participate in a history walk that includes the train station, the yogurt shop and the library. They finish the day at Powerhouse Park and a Sheriff’s helicopter flies in and lands, and the children get to meet the first responders who fly the helicopter.

The DMVA organizes many events, including the Del Mar Village Pop-Up Culture, the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure, Santa by the Sea, and Summer Solstice. Sadly, it rained on the day of the The Taste of Del Mar & Artisan Stroll, and many artists decided not to come. However, enough people attended that it was considered a success. Events, says Grove, have many advantages, such as building a sense of community among residents, promoting the area by bringing in tourists, and helping businesses.

New businesses are also on their way. The Tasting Room Del Mar will be opening soon as well as a new brewery on San Dieguito Road, and a new shoe store and Samata Spa opened earlier this year. Independent businesses are vital to keeping the community-type vibe that the DMVA works so hard to maintain. “It’s very small-town oriented,” says Grove. “It’s just not a mall. So it’s very different. It’s not like we have a big corporate management that dictates how things are done here. These are mom-and-pops, some of them have been running the stores for many years.”

Overall, the DMVA hopes to continue their multifaceted work to make Del Mar the quaint and unique town it always has been and still is. “Lots of different hats we’re wearing to try to help downtown be vital,” says Grove. Ultimately that’s the objective, to make it someplace that there’s civic pride…There’s never really a dull moment here. There’s always something going on.”

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