One Paseo, the Community Plan and smart growth

In monitoring community reaction to the One Paseo proposal, a common theme often emerges: that Kilroy should abide by the Carmel Valley Community Plan and underlying zoning regulations for the property. As a city planner, I’ve had the opportunity to analyze and update several community plans and zoning ordinances. I have also taken the time to review the Carmel Valley Community Plan myself. Today I provide an overview on community plans and zoning, offer historical context to the Carmel Valley Community Plan, and discuss innovative planning concepts such as smart growth and neotraditional planning.

Generally, a community plan is a long-range policy document that guides the overall development patterns for a community. It talks about community values, goals and objectives; land uses; and development controls. A community plan typically has a shelf life of around 15-20 years for the simple reason that, despite our best efforts to read the “community crystal ball,” things get built and conditions change. The plan needs to be monitored, revisited and readjusted over time to respond to current conditions, regional influences and updated planning paradigms. A community plan is never intended to be a fixed, static document.

The 1975 Community Plan for Carmel Valley is 38 years old, which is about 20 years past its expiration date. Yet it still contains meaningful policies and remains the guiding “contract” by which all development shall be judged. It was created at a time when Euclidian zoning was the model for how communities were planned and developed. At its core, Euclidian zoning separates all land uses (commercial, residential, institutional, etc.) into distinct zones. We see evidence of that planning concept in Carmel Valley where residents have to jump in their cars to access goods and services located in separate and distinct commercial areas.

Since the 1990s, new land use planning paradigms have taken hold for mixed-use, transit-oriented development, going by names like neotraditional planning, new urbanism, and smart growth. These principles offer more compact land use solutions to help avoid urban sprawl into outlying areas. Fundamentally, three key components characterize the concept of smart growth: a mix of land uses (e.g. commercial and residential uses in one development area), increased densities and transit options. Successful local examples of smart growth principles can be found in Little Italy, La Jolla and downtown Encinitas.

So what does all this mean to One Paseo? Because the Carmel Valley Community Plan is a general policy statement document, the plan can be interpreted to support arguments either for or against this project. I found two notable goals from our Community Plan to illustrate my point that relate directly to the One Paseo proposal: the need for a centrally located “town center” and a community transit system connecting the town center with individual neighborhoods. Objectives for the Community Plan state that the town center should meet the “social, cultural, and recreational needs of the community as well as the shopping function.” It goes on to say that “design which emphasizes vertical development as well as mixed uses is desirable and should be encouraged.” Regarding transit, Community Plan objectives state that “development of an interior transportation system for the town center, linkages from the town center to the residential areas, and the provision for a transit station site are necessary.”

In my opinion, the Del Mar Highlands Shopping Center has fallen short in achieving the vision for a town center.  While centrally located, it is an upscale strip mall surrounded by asphalt.  One Paseo has the possibility of providing a Main Street heart of the community, with public uses areas, walkable streets and a “sense of place.”  The One Paseo project does not currently have a public transit component; however, the city can (and should) mandate the use of a public/community shuttle that connects One Paseo with surrounding neighborhoods and to transit centers (bus and Coaster stops) in Sorrento Valley, Del Mar and Solana Beach.

I urge our community to embrace the conceptual idea of One Paseo as an opportunity for a mixed-use town center development with increased densities. From there, we can send a strong message as to what town center public benefits and amenities the community demands to be built into the project. Instead of opposing One Paseo on a Community Plan inconsistency finding, let’s find a way to come together to see what this project can do to fulfill our Community Plan’s vision and provide the most benefit to our community.

Robert Scott

Robert Scott, AICP, LEED AP is an award-winning land use planner and LEED for Homes Green Rater who founded his consulting business in 2006. He is not in any way affiliated with Kilroy Realty and has been a Carmel Valley resident since 2003. Bob can be reached at (858) 480-1098; www.rjsplanning.com.

Related posts:

  1. Opinion/Letters to the Editor: One Paseo would be terrific community asset, give economy a boost
  2. Opinion/Letters to the Editor: One Paseo gets MOVE Alliance endorsement
  3. Keep One Paseo within allowed zoning
  4. One Paseo violates the law of the land
  5. Torrey Pines planners release statement on One Paseo amendment

Short URL: http://www.delmartimes.net/?p=49582

Posted by Staff on Apr 25, 2013. Filed under Letters, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Comments for “One Paseo, the Community Plan and smart growth”

  1. David Wojtkowski

    I appreciate your letter Robert. My thoughts are first why didn’t Kilroy attempt to alter the community plan before it made the proposal? I agree that community plans should be updated – but in reasonable and thoughtful way by a group of all stakeholders – not by one business entity whose primary goal, only goal actually, is to make the maximum amount of money possible.
    I’m trying to figure out what exactly One Paseo will truly offer, that we need, that isn’t already in the community. Different letters refer to One Paseo giving CV a “heart”, your letter refers to giving CV a “sense of place”. Please be specific and tell me what exactly One Paseo would offer in positives relating to heart or sense of place for the standard CV resident. Most of us don’t live within walking distance of One Paseo.

    There is also absolutely no impetus for the City to create a public transit component due to One Paseo – they could do it now for Hightlands if they wanted to. One Paseo would bring nothing special encouraging it.

    For me it comes back to a vision of a Trader Joe’s and North Coast Rep (and that’s about where the positives end) but also high rises that don’t fit in with any other part of the community filled with a giant influx of new residents in a community that is already virtually at build-out.

    Forget the traffic questions for a second as I know the sides will not agree. Tell me about the other positives from the average resident’s perspective.

    At the end of the day this just seems way too much like the standard bait and switch we see from large developers time and time again. When Petco was first designed it had a large park but that got way trimmed down, not because it needed to but because the developer just had to have a larger profit margin. That same story gets repeated with most large developments in recent history – one has to keep in mind that the ONLY goal of Kilroy is higher profits, that’s it. No problem with that, they are a business but people getting glazed eyes thinking how Kilroy really cares about the community are utterly naive and proven wrong by history.

    • David Wojtkowski:
      Thank you for the dialogue. Community benefits could be defined as “any on-site or off-site improvements, protections, regulations, funding or programs not typically expected of a development project but that are committed to a project as justification for any development in excess of the underlying zoning.” This language is borrowed from City of Del Mar development codes which were applied to projects like the Del Mar Plaza and the Inn L’Auberge, where such community benefits included such things as the provision for a community market, public use spaces, and funding for the Del Mar library (since built at CDM at 13th St).

      So as I see it the community benefits associated with One Paseo could really be anything we as a community deem necessary and appropriate commensurate with any development bonuses requested by Kilroy. For starters, dedicated plazas and open public areas, transportation alternatives, and a cultural component are examples I’d like to see built into the project and completely funded by Kilroy. I totally agree that we (the City) need(s) to be diligent to make sure any benefits derived from the project do not get whittled down or diluted through the process ala Petco’s park in the park.

      I have more opinion pieces that I will be submitting to the paper. Interestingly enough the next one is on the subject of Exceptional Community Benefits that can start the dialogue of what we can and should demand of the project.

      Bob

  2. David Wojtkowski

    Thanks Robert. I do believe that maintained plazas and open spaces are a benefit to the local community. However, you really have to tailor those positives with what I see as outright negatives – high rise buildings that would tower over everything else in the area and the incredible population growth without commensurate parks and infrastructure. What grocery stores will those people shop at? What schools will they attend? CV has been basically at build out, save for this one giant plot of land for sometime. Adding in an incredible amount of multi family homes to an area already at max capacity can’t be good for the rest of the community.

    What I see from the pro-One Paseo crowd is the general idea of saying more retail and restaurants are needed and this would be great and then completely ignoring any of the obvious negatives. I understand the positives – I want a Trader Joe’s and North Coast Rep to move down. Additional restaurants could be good (although the ones at Piazza and Torrey are rarely full). I’d like you to comment on the negatives to and how you see those being mitigated. Some growth for the area could be good but I just don’t see the positives as coming close to outweighing the negatives.

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