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Wrong Way Walkable
Ann Gardner | Via Latina

 

Photo illustration by Virginia Lawrence based on artist rendering of One Paseo looking west on Del Mar Heights Road (Figure 5.3-11 in One Paseo Draft EIR).
Click to enlarge.

 

“Walkable” as used by proponents of the One Paseo Project needs to be exposed for what it is, a sustainability buzz word used to sell an oversized (1.4 million square feet on a site zoned for 500,00 square feet) project that provides parking for 3600 cars. Sure, One Paseo is walkable within its boundaries - after you get out of your car - but so are UTC, Fashion Valley and Horton Plaza. That does not mean we want a UTC, Fashion Valley or Horton Plaza-like development with 8 to 10 story buildings in a low scale neighborhood with homes, schools, community centers and one and two story retailers.

“Walkable” in sustainable communities’ language means a neighborhood where one can walk to desired destinations reducing traffic congestion. In fact, according to its published Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), One Paseo would increase traffic congestion. The report makes clear that even after widening Del Mar Heights Road, the Level of Service (LOS) on the Del Mar Heights Bridge between the I-5 ramps will worsen to Level E and on Del Mar Heights Road from I-5 east, to Level F or as defined by the Highway Capacity Manual “a road in a constant traffic jam.” Existing Level F traffic jams will also get worse on sections of Via de la Valle to the north and on El Camino Real both to the north toward Via de la Valle and south toward I-56.

 

A Walkable Community. Photo Washington State
Department of Transportation.

What Price Main Street?, a coalition of residents concerned about the impacts of the One Paseo development on their neighborhood, has put forward a reduced alternative plan that includes mixed uses and some increased density “that is based on flexibility in the existing Community Plan rather than increased density supported by distorted traffic studies.” (see sidebar on left) In a letter to the Carmel Valley Planning Board with copies to San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and the San Diego City Council and Planning Commission the group’s proposal reads in part:

“…a mix of office, retail and residential uses seems to be supported by a majority of local residents… Our proposal addresses both the expressed community desires for a mixed use project and your request for a Reduced Scope Alternative. The result would be a “win-win-win” outcome. Carmel Valley would be able to get a Trader Joe’s, more restaurants and shops, a walkable community…within a scale in keeping with the surrounding properties as well as reduced traffic impacts that might possibly be mitigated (and) the city would get the employment and tax base increases it seeks.” *

Fortunately, under Mayor Filner’s leadership San Diego appears to be more willing to listen to what neighborhoods want. Appointing the head of a new Planning Department, Filner said the Department will be more focused on building strong neighborhoods that include more walk and bike-ability. In the meantime the process for reviewing the proposed One Paseo project has been delayed several months for more study of the environmental impacts. The prospect for adding fewer cars and encouraging a more pedestrian and bicycle oriented neighborhood at Del Mar Heights and El Camino Real, just across I-5 from Del Mar, looks less bleak.

*Complete What Price Main Street Community Coalition letter here

 

 

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