One Paseo Project Is A Go In Carmel Valley

26 Feb 2015 · by Sean Zanganeh

Hi Friends,

The One Paseo project was officially ok’d on February 23, 2015 with the council’s 7-2 vote in favor of the project. It should bring the best of both worlds to one of the most popular suburban coastal towns in San Diego.  It is very progressive for the area which will cause all the retail centers in the area to build a pathway of success, bringing more jobs to the area and helping our local San Diego Economy.  Thank you to UT San Diego for another great article.

 — Possibly paving the way for more intense development in many parts of San Diego, the City Council voted 7-2 on Monday night in favor of the controversial One Paseo mixed-use project in Carmel Valley.

Three of the council’s Democrats — Todd Gloria, Myrtle Cole and David Alvarez — joined with the panel’s four Republicans in support. Councilwomen Marti Emerald and Sherri Lightner voted “no.”

Council members in support said the 1.4 million-square-foot complex of office buildings, condos and retail stores is a strong example of “smart growth” because it will allow people to live, work and shop in the same place, reducing the need to travel.

“The concept of live, work, play and shop — these are the communities of the future,” said Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, stressing the project would help alleviate the city’s housing shortage without damaging undeveloped rural areas. “I think we all agree we can’t have urban sprawl.”

Council members who voted against One Paseo said it’s an overly ambitious project that would worsen Carmel Valley’s already congested traffic and damage the character of the upscale suburban community located 20 miles north of downtown.

“I think it’s a worthy project in general, it’s just that the scale of it is something the community has said they can’t live with,” said Emerald, noting that a city analysis found the project could quadruple nearby traffic. “I think we have to listen to the community.”

Monday’s approval, which came after six hours of sharply divided public testimony with more speakers opposed than in favor, could set a precedent for similarly dense projects in other neighborhoods with quality infrastructure.

Those are likely to include communities like Mission Valley and Grantville that have freeways and mass transit.

But some critics said the approval of One Paseo could also spur similarly intense proposals in more residential communities, such as Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos and Tierrasanta.

City officials have long expressed support for smart growth, which has been called the “city of villages” concept locally.

The idea is to build dense housing along existing transportation corridors so that new subdivisions don’t sprawl into relatively undeveloped, rural areas.

Supporters said One Paseo fits with that concept.

But opponents said One Paseo falls short of being smart growth because it’s not close enough to the nearest mass transit — the Sorrento Valley Coaster station about 4 miles away.

“It’s in an area with absolutely no access to public transit,” said Council President Lightner, whose district includes the area. “Carmel Valley is not a transit-oriented community.”

She also complained the project does not provide enough additional parkland to support the estimated 1,600 residents, and that it would create parking problems.

Other critics of the project include the neighboring cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach, the Solana Beach school district, County Supervisor Dave Roberts and community planning boards in the area.

“Density without transit is not smart growth and it doesn’t work,” Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner said during the hearing.

Opponents also said the project is far too intense for the 23-acre empty site it will occupy, stressing that a city analysis shows One Paseo will sharply increase traffic on Del Mar Heights Road, El Camino Real and other nearby streets.

They note that the project includes nearly triple the 500,000 square feet that would have been allowed on the site before the council granted it multiple exemptions on Monday.

Opponents have repeatedly said they support having a mixed-use project on the site, but that they would prefer something significantly less dense.

“We’re not trying to kill this project,” Ken Farinsky, a leader of the What Price Main Street opposition group, said during Monday’s public hearing. “We support an appropriate project, but this is too big.”

Supporters, however, said the time has come for projects with such density and that One Paseo would struggle to attract quality retail tenants and residents if it were significantly smaller.

“One Paseo is the right project at the right time and in the right place for our city,” said Marcela Escobar-Eck, a land use consultant and former city planner who helped design the project.

In addition to providing needed middle class housing near some of the city’s most prominent employment areas, One Paseo would create 1,600 permanent jobs — injecting $154 million per year into the local economy — and an additional 3,800 construction jobs over the next few years, Escobar-Eck said.

The project’s 608 condos would also boost property tax revenue and the 198,000 square feet of retail space would increase sales tax revenue.

The developer, Kilroy Realty, also agreed Monday at the urging of Councilman Alvarez to make 60 of the project’s condos — 10 percent — subsidized units for low-income residents.

During Monday’s hearing, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce endorsed the $750 million project as an economic boost, and Circulate San Diego said it dovetails with the dense housing called for in the city’s proposed climate action plan.

Other supporters said One Paseo would provide Carmel Valley the community nexus it lacks while also helping to fill glaring voids for mid-priced housing, shops and restaurants.

Some also said One Paseo, which will include a cinema and 10 acres of open space, exemplifies the kind of lifestyle preferred by today’s young and successful workforce.

Councilman Gloria said he was particularly pleased the developer has agreed to pay for a shuttle during lunchtime and the morning and evening commutes until mass transit comes to the area. Rapid buses are scheduled to begin serving Carmel Valley two decades from now in 2035.

The opposition group, which claims to have 8,000 members, spent about $1.6 million trying to defeat One Paseo. Much of that money came from the owners of the nearby Del Mar Highlands Town Center, a large plaza anchored by a Ralphs supermarket.

The developer spent roughly the same amount lobbying on behalf of the project, which has been in the planning stages for six years.

This article was originally written by David Garrick of the UT San Diego.

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