The communities surrounding the San Diego Polo Club are mixed in their reactions to the proposal for a planned assisted living center to replace the dirt lot that currently serves as special event parking.
The 23.88-acre slice of land off Via de la Valle serves as a parking lot for the Surf Cup soccer tournament and Torrey Pines PGA events. The lot fills with water during the rainy season. The plan is for it to become Rancho Del Mar, a 674,408-square-foot structure housing seniors in an all-inclusive assisted living
resort, as well as intensive care units for residents with Alzheimer's or dementia.
The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board's regional issues subcommittee heard an update on the plans at an April 21 meeting in a full room at the AMN Healthcare building.
"I'm supportive of this project," said neighbor Marvin Gerst, who for years has fought the city and Polo Club over the soccer tournament use. "They have an attractive, high-end project that is better suited to that land."
Other neighbors are convinced that the bulk and scale of the project doesn't suit the San Dieguito River Park area at all. Regional subcommittee co-Chair Jan Fuchs said the development would be like "drawing a curtain across the river valley."
"It will change the atmosphere of the entire region," said neighbor Barbara Boutelle, whose view from her home above the project will be erased.
Ali Shapouri, of Shapouri Associates representing Rancho Del Mar, said he has been working with neighbors to resolve their concerns. As the Rancho Del Mar plans have developed, they've hit a stumbling block with the city's possible plans to include roundabouts in plans to widen El Camino Real.
Shapouri said he thinks the roundabouts will create a very nice effect for the roadway, but said their impact on the Rancho Del Mar project are "profound." Widening the road alone takes 1.22 acres of land away; with the roundabout option, that number climbs to 2.55 acres.
Planning board Chairman Frisco White said that Shapouri's client should start looking at a redesign that accommodates the roundabouts.
"Proceed with the idea that roundabouts are in place because I think the city is heading in that direction," White said.
Rancho Del Mar's current design has already been reduced once, going from around 734,000 square feet to 674,408 square feet with
less independent living space. There will be a 170,000-square-foot underground parking garage and all the amenities will be on-site, such as dining halls, salons, an indoor pool and a theater.
"It's like a small village that provides all your necessities without leaving the place," Shapouri said.
Of the 174 assisted living units, 41 will be individual casitas with their own garages. The remaining units will be housed in the two-story building surrounded by private courtyards. A three-story administration building is also in the plans and will serve as the highest point at 55 feet tall. The senior facility's three-story, 30,000-square-foot wellness center will be located on a spot across the street on El Camino Real.
Resident Karen Cody asked a question many wonder when hearing the plans for the vacant lot — what will happen to the soccer tournament?
Planning board member Scott Tillson said Surf Cup will have to find off-site parking in order to continue running the tournament.