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Carmel Valley: Hung Out to Dry
Ann Gardner | Via Latina

San Diego Planning Commissioner at October 16 hearing after seeing new rendering above of One Paseo: “I disagree with the community’s concern. It is the perfect place to implement the city’s plans for infill projects with large, tall buildings.”
Photo by Ann Gardner.
Click on image to enlarge.


On October 16 the San Diego Planning Commission seemed unwilling to decide if the 1.4 million square foot One Paseo Project justified hanging Carmel Valley out to dry. Instead, it sent a laundry list of “considerations” to the City Council without taking a position on the project’s size and unresolved impacts on Carmel Valley’s traffic and community character. One Paseo’s three times allowed square footage was addressed only once by Commission Chair Golba and then got lost in a three-hour discussion of secondary issues that ended with a motion that the developer has misrepresented as an approval:

“We all agree it is a good project in concept but are unable to recommend approval based on the following considerations…:” a reduction of visual impacts, water reclamation, energy star products, a traffic demand management system, pedestrian enhancements, the bicycle boulevard supported by the Carmel Valley Planning Board and reworking of a section in the FEIR which they implied failed to provide justification for going ahead with the project despite the unmitigated impact on community character and traffic.

Of the five commissioners only two seemed to support the project. Commissioner Wagner thought the project provided a “lens of tomorrow” suggesting current residents had to put up with the “unfortunate reality” of traffic now for different modes of transportation in the future. He suggested that the upscale retail space expected to draw cars from outside the area be reduced but the motion failed 4 to 1. Commissioner Quiraz felt the project was in the “perfect place” and that village infill should be in suburban areas rather than low income areas where most of the public transit already exists. She did not explain saying only that One Paseo was designed for future transit, lower cost housing, parking, conservation elements, and providing money to the community. Only Commission Chair Golba worried that the project was “too big a jump from the General Plan. Can we justify that leap? The (justification) seem lacking.” Observers were disappointed there was no up or down vote on the size especially when it became apparent there were not enough votes to recommend approval.

The Commission did ask the Fire Chief to respond to Del Mar’s concern for emergency response time and was told that the project would not impact response time, and might actually improve it. Commissioner Whalen said any statement suggesting the project would improve traffic times was a “fool’s errand.” The Project is expected to go before the San Diego City Council for review late this year or early 2015, but the developer has already stated they would not reduce the size of the project. The Carmel Valley Planning Board rejected the project with an overwhelming 11 to 2 vote on September 11 and sent their recommendation to the Planning Commission for a smaller mixed-use project more in keeping with their Community Plan which allows only 500,000 sq. feet.





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