New green project in Carmel Valley raises neighbor concerns

This sloping hill in Carmel Valley, off Del Mar Trails and Worsch Way, is the proposed location of eight new homes. Photo: Karen Billing

By Karen Billing
Staff Writer

Eight new houses planned for the last available lot in one Carmel Valley neighborhood are stirring up concerns from surrounding residents.

About 21 neighbors showed up to share their issues with the project at the Oct. 5 Carmel Valley Community Planning Board’s regional issues committee. The planning board will give direction on the new housing development at its next meeting, scheduled to be held on Thursday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. at the Carmel Valley Library.

The project is planned for Worsch Way on a wooded hill bordered by Del Mar Trails Road and Worsch Drive.

Worsch was one of the original landowners in Carmel Valley, selling some 300 acres to Baldwin Homes in 1981, with the Worsch family keeping their 1.6-acre homestead. The land went up for sale last year after the death of the family matriarch, and was purchased by Del Mar Mesa resident Gary Levitt of Seabreeze Properties. The Worsch home is still up there and will be removed.

“We saw an opportunity that really applies a solution to development in a different way,” Levitt said.

In an attempt to fit into the community with the least amount of disruption, Levitt’s plans include minimal grading to preserve the existing slopes, trees on the slopes and the retaining walls.

Levitt is aiming for sustainable “new ideas of living.” Understanding that there is a market for homes for an aging population, Levitt said his design guidelines require that all master bedrooms be on the ground floor. The homes will be in an “L” shape with courtyards to give an indoor-outdoor architecture feel and allow people to live simply, utilizing natural sun and breezes. The development will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified with solar energy features and water-conserving landscape.

“We don’t build homes so we created very detailed design guidelines and we’d require any builder to meet that commitment,” Levitt said.

The eight lots will range from 6,000 square feet to 8,500 square feet and will be accessed up a driveway from Worsch Way.

Some neighbors aren’t so sure about the new homes on the hill. In a neighborhood where streets are terraced one above the other, one resident who lives on San Andino Cove said the new development would destroy her view.

Donna Kaiser said that she is able to look down now on a greenway with beautiful trees, home to owls and hawks. Putting eight houses there would completely change the view from her home.

“That lovely green property will be gone,” said Kaiser.

Neighbors said the driveway servicing eight homes would be just like putting eight new homes on Worsch Way—they worried about overflow parking on the street, and garbage cans having to come down the hill.

Levitt said he agreed that the parking issue is a valid concern, as is the garbage cans — he said the homes would probably have a private trash pickup.

“There’s no HOAs, no private drives in our neighborhood, this would be the only thing out of character,” said resident Chris Brown, adding that he thinks the project will also reduce their property values.

Brown said as the project stands it is not minimally impacting the surrounding neighborhood as is Levitt’s stated goal, but instead is “The most intrusive.”

Levitt said the alternative to being on the hill is bringing the homes down to street level, which would involve extensive grading — about 4,000 trips of trucks being driven through the neighborhood for three to four months.

“It’s the wrong thing to do for the environment, the worst thing a developer can do is come in and reshape the land,” Levitt said.
Their plan now is the most sensitive to the existing landscape, he said.

A couple of residents agreed with his logic.

“It’s actually refreshing that for once a developer wants to come in and leave the topography,” said a resident who asked not to be named.
Karen Cody, one of the original homeowners in the area in 1985, said she thinks the property should be left the way it is, with residences on the hill and not on street level.

“I don’t feel a row of houses there would be acceptable,” Cody said. “I like the approach they’ve taken.”

Related posts:

  1. Carmel Valley: New subdivision proposed
  2. Carmel Valley resident hopes to kick start effort to spruce up shabby-looking walls
  3. Carmel Valley residents voice variety of opinions on ‘Mainstreet’ project
  4. Opinion: Carmel Valley ‘Main Street’ project would create much-needed gathering place
  5. Carmel Valley: Battle begins to sway public opinion on Main Street project

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Posted by Karen Billing on Oct 10, 2011. Filed under Carmel Valley, Featured Story, News, carmel valley. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

5 Comments for “New green project in Carmel Valley raises neighbor concerns”

  1. "NIMBYism" no matter how reasonable the development proposal may be?

    Sorry, but if the neighbors did not wish the property to be developed then they should have purchased it.

  2. Chris Brown

    Interesting comment from Mr. Levitan, President of Levitan & Associates, a strategic marketing firm serving the residential development, homebuilding and real estate brokerage industries. It is even more interesting that he is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is not a member of our community and may never have even visited Carmel Valley.

    Perhaps Mr. Levitan's comment should have included the following tag line, "This message paid for by the developer of this property and the developer approves of this message."

  3. Andrea Brown

    According to the Carmel Valley Precise Plan–the community's guidelines for real estate development–any development within Carmel Valley "should maintain and perpetuate the initial development." In order for the Worsch development to meet these guidelines it must maintain and perpetuate the terraced hillside lot design of the surrounding neighborhood. In other words, the homes built on the site should each have driveway access to one of the three city streets that surround the site and maximum height of each of these homes should not exceed 35' from the level of the city street that each home has driveway access to. That's not NIMBYism, that's just conforming to local development standards and the Carmel Valley Precise Plan.

  4. Joe Roys

    I agree with Andrea, regarding parking problem. The right solution should be extend Portada St. and create cold sac inside the new development. It will resolve parking, garbage collection and emergency entry problems for the new development. Worsch Way small narrow street has no way to accommodate parking and traffic for new 8 house development.
    Regarding grading we as a neighbor can suffer for 3 month during the grading instead of suffering for years with parking, traffic and excess noise in our neighborhood

  5. Jack & Ann Lunds

    We have lived on Worsch Way for twenty five years. While we don't object to the property being developed, we do agree with the City Planning Department findings. They have identified signficant project issues i.e. "This projects overall design should be redsigned to be more in harmony with the existing neighborhood. Alternate designs should be examined further. "

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