Main Street Madness
Bob Fuchs | Carmel Valley resident
On January 12, 2012, I made a short presentation to the Del Mar City Council on the very possible negative impacts from the nearly 4X greater than current building entitlement being requested by Kilroy Realty for the undeveloped land parcel at El Camino Real and Del Mar Heights Rd. These impacts include significantly greater traffic congestion at a key entry to Del Mar and Carmel Valley at DMH Rd. and I-5 as well as the massive increase, specifically in retail buildings, that could undermine Del Mar’s Downtown Revitalization Plan and the already entitled Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch at DMH Rd. and Carmel Valley Rd.
Developer representatives and project supporters also spoke in the public comment period. The representatives expressed disagreement with the numbers that I presented, but declined to provide any specifics because the Draft Environmental Impact Report had not yet been cleared by the City of San Diego, but was expected within a few weeks. Notwithstanding that City staff had stated in 2009 that development intensity would be evaluated based on potential impacts to the community and region, including traffic, community character/aesthetics, etc. and recommended that technical studies be provided early in the process, the developer has chosen to wait until recently to provide these obviously critical studies. However, this has not stopped the developer from engaging in an extensive promotional campaign based on glamorous portrayals with an absence of facts to elicit support from the community.
The project supporters outlined various reasons for wanting the project to proceed, including their perception that the area lacked certain desired retail and entertainment amenities, that the project would be a jobs provider, that it represented “intelligent urban design”, that it was difficult to park at Del Mar Highlands Town Center, etc.
Without trying to demean what are likely genuinely felt perceptions, I find it strange that questions related to when does “more” become “too much” are never dealt with.
Would a 55% increase in retail services above what currently exists in Carmel Valley north of Hwy 56 be sufficient? That is what is currently entitled but un-built at Pacific Highlands Ranch and the Town Center. Is an additional retail entitlement at One Paseo equaling another 43% of the current inventory needed?
Kilroy representatives stated at an informational meeting last week that 500 permanent jobs can be expected from the increased entitlement requested for the project—3+ years into the future. This represents 0.04% of the 1.4 million current jobs in the San Diego region. Is this enough of an economic impact to justify imposing severely increased traffic on the most congested part of Carmel Valley?
Is “intelligent urban design” the right thing to superimpose onto the last developable parcel in a master-planned suburban community that will not have a mass-transit presence until 2035? Does it matter that other highly-touted mixed-use developments tend to be located in much more densely populated areas with mass transit capacity and in projects significantly less dense than what is proposed for One Paseo?
If it’s difficult to park at the Town Center, what will it be like to park at One Paseo that would have 9X more building area per acre than the Town Center--with all parking in 3- to 7- level parking structures?
And lastly, how much delay in daily commute time for most of the work force in Del Mar and Carmel Valley is acceptable to provide convenient shopping and entertainment in Carmel Valley? When does “more” become “too much”?