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Ask Dr. Rich
Rich Simons | 11th Street

Q: Have you been paying attention to this One Paseo project? What do you make of it? – v.l.


I have been expecting you to contact me on this, v.l. I know you are aware of my seminal work in this area and no doubt remember my iconic monograph “Is There Life East of I-5?” (circa 2006) and, more recently, “Cinema and Sushi Come to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

So, in anticipation of your query I have charged once more into the breach, fortified by canteens full of a nice buttery Chardonnay with excellent fruit finish. Slipping unnoticed beneath the freeway to the “dark side,” I winnowed my way through the suburban jungle. The proposed venue for the project was not difficult to find. It was precisely where I had been told – just to the west of El Camino Real, right across from a storage lot for used cars. It is an impressively large piece of land and basically flat, currently supporting something brown and stubbly. My mind turned to the endless fields of cotton and sorghum that I used to drive through in Texas, before we escaped. I believe that my account of that incident, “Breakout On the Brazos,” may still be in print.

But as I studied the scene further, deep into the second canteen of fruit and butter, a vision came to me – a glimpse of the grandeur that could arise on this spot. No, not Rome. What I envisioned were the majestic Mayan cities, such as Copán and Chichén Itzá. The plans for One Paseo call for an “outdoor Main Street,” very much (I imagine) similar to the “Avenue of the Dead” connecting the pyramids of the Sun and the Moon at Teotihuacan. (Please do not fret, dear reader, if you don’t know your Teotihuacan from your Tenochtitlan. Trust me on this.)

I have also read that One Paseo is intended to be a “mixed use” development, which I assume means that it will accommodate the incredibly wealthy as well as the miserably poor. Not side-by-side, of course, but more of a “layered” approach. For instance, the top level of the main pyramid will be reserved for the High Priests. But relax. These will just be High Priests of Finance, and the only thing that will be sacrificed is fiscal integrity. Although if it is your 401(k) they are manipulating, you might rightly wonder from whom the blood flows.

A series of tall structures, like the Aztec temples, could provide additional benefits. It is said that from the tops of their highest pyramids the Aztecs could see the Spaniards landing on the coast in their colorful caravelles. From the towers at One Paseo, authorities with night-vision binoculars would be able to spot the descendants of the Conquistadors landing at Torrey Pines beach in their well-weathered pangas.

Alas, One Paseo cannot be constructed with traditional materials. I mean – have you priced out stone blocks lately? Lime plaster? These items have all been snapped up by the Chinese to build their gorgeous dam. But not to worry. I’m sure the notoriously sensitive developers of One Paseo will be determined to go fully green, and that will call of course for hay bale construction, with a full solar panel exterior, and double-paned vinyl windows.

There has been a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth in the local media about the possible pejorative effect this project may have on local traffic, which is already out of control. Aye, and there’s the rub. The Mayans and Aztecs had no traffic to deal with, because they were not cursed by the invention we call the “wheel,” which was introduced to the New World by the Europeans, along with other plagues against which the natives had no built-in resistance, such as smallpox and cheap whiskey. Now we have so many wheels we don’t know what to do with them. Just check out I-5 during the oxymoronic “rush” hour, and the dead storage lot across from the One Paseo site.

In regard to the potential traffic problem, the developers are working mightily to find solutions and mitigations. All that I can contribute to this effort is a piece of wisdom attributed, I believe, to H.L. Mencken, to wit: “For every complex problem there is a clear, simple solution. And it is wrong.”



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