For a few brief hours on May 21 community activists took over land use planning for the City of San Diego. Sitting virtually powerless on a raised podium, the nine Councilmembers sat silent as a representative from the community and a representative from Kilroy Realty described the compromise they had agreed on. The councilmembers, especially the seven who had voted for a massive development that egregiously violated the Carmel Valley community plan, had no choice. Their authority had been usurped by an unimaginably successful citywide referendum, by community planning boards throughout the City, two lawsuits and even by the developer who had finally realized that the Council had completely misread the will of a determined community.
Kilroy Realty is now working with community groups to come up with a reduced plan that allows some increased density but also is more consistent with the existing community character and traffic challenges. “It is clear that the community planning process in San Diego is broken. San Diego is not keeping their community plans up to date, and then not listening to their Community Planning groups when a project is proposed. It results in poor planning decisions that are not supported by residents. That is a lesson for Del Mar,” Del Mar Councilmember Terry Sinnott commented after the May 21 meeting rescinding the One Paseo approval.
We applaud the role Del Mar played in helping their Carmel Valley neighbors reject the oversized One Paseo and agree with Councilmember Sinnott. But there are several memorable and controversial examples with less than sufficient citizen input considered: the expansion of commercial uses on the once-wide, now alpine ledge 15th Street “boulevard”; the approval of a street level office on Camino del Mar, and the plastic boxed-in terrace at the Plaza. These are exceptions but still warnings that decisions without continuing protections for the community’s interests can be made by local governments. Citizen involvement and opinions are vitally necessary to keep Del Mar, Del Mar.
In fact, as we go to press residents are going before City Council with concerns about short-term rentals and out- of-scale homes in our peaceful, green residential neighborhoods. (See pages 4 and 5.) Be involved; make sure local government works for the residents.