The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board is worried that a proposed new residential development with its modern, flat-roofed white buildings doesn't fit with the rural character of the San Dieguito River Valley.
The 22-unit Pueblo Del Mar is planned for 3.76 acres at the foot of hills across from the San Dieguito wetlands restoration project on Via de la Valle. The area is home to horses, scenic bluffs, a restored lagoon habitat and architecture reminiscent of hilly Italian villas.
At an Oct. 14 meeting, board members said they thought the project looked too futuristic and that the white building's blue trim clashed with the natural landscape.
The board's subcommittee will get a second crack at the project Nov. 5 at the Carmel Valley Library before it is submitted to the city on Nov. 11.
Board member Scott Tillson argued that the board should not get too bogged down in design details.
"Keep in mind we're not designing anything," Tillson said.
Tillson said that he'd like to see the board move away from commenting too much on design and instead focus on whether the river valley and Via de la Valle could accommodate this particular land use.
Chair Frisco White agreed to an extent, but said developers take their concerns into account. The more critical the board is of a design, the better it often comes out, he added.
'Tough' slice of land
Ali Shapouri of Shapouri & Associates represents the developers of Pueblo de la Valle, Bridge West.
"This is a tough piece of property we've really struggled with this for a long time," Shapouri said.
The challenges, he said, are in the hilly topography as well as the city's requirement that 12 acres remain as open space. The developer plans to meet that requirement and more, by leaving 14.5 acres open and reducing the project from 35 units to 22.
Besides the architecture, the board members said they were concerned about the location.
Tillson said that making a left turn in and out of the project might be very scary for residents on the fast-moving, two-lane Via de la Valle.
He suggested the developer think about making improvements to the road.
Shapouri said the applicant had considered adding a turn lane, but a traffic study showed it was not needed.
Some towering palm trees sketched into the rendering also worried the board.
Member Anne Harvey said that palms essentially become "flaming torches" in a wildfire and they might not be the best option for a site that sits in front of a hill of dry chaparral.