By Karen Billing
Neighbors of the Worsch Way subdivision in Carmel Valley continue to lobby that a planned new housing development project should fit in with the neighborhood and have street access that makes sense. While the developer of the project, located off Del Mar Trails and Worsch Drive, would like to keep the homes on an existing hill, accessed off a private drive in the Worsch Way cul-de-sac, the neighbors would rather see the project taken down off the hill with access instead onto the collector street of Del Mar Trails.
The project was recently discussed at a meeting of the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board’s regional issues subcommittee on March 7.
Developer Gary Levitt said he has listened very carefully to the neighbors’ input but he still thinks his original proposal for access is the best solution for the project. To change the access point would mean removing more dirt from the site (about 14,000 cubic yards) and also having a steep entrance drive.
Levitt has been sensitive to leaving as much of the existing slope as possible and attempting to reduce the amount of dirt removed from the site. Neighbors have said that is not an important issue for them.
Levitt has addressed neighbors’ concerns about views by lowering the site by four feet and in one lot by eight feet. On two lots he has also set guidelines for additional setbacks of 30 to 50 feet and restricted second floors in those locations so the residents of the new homes won’t be looking across into the existing homes, a complaint of the neighbors.
“They won’t see over the neighbors’ wall,” Levitt said. “We can’t build a home that’s overlooking their neighbor’s backyard.”
“I want to compliment Gary because he’s made tremendous strides to make[the project] as compatible as possible,” said subcommittee co-chair Jan Fuchs.
Levitt’s goal is to create an eight-home subdivision on the 1.6-acre lot that focuses on sustainable design, with design guidelines requiring that all master bedrooms be on the ground floor and that the homes have courtyards to give an indoor-outdoor architecture feel and allow people to live simply, utilizing natural sun and breezes. The development will be LEED certified with solar energy features and water-conserving landscape.
Debbie Lokanc, planning board member representing neighborhood 5, attended a meeting with neighbors and city staff that the developers were not made aware of. Lokanc said the city prefers the project be brought down to street level with four driveways off Worsch Drive, two on Worsch Way and two on Del Mar Trails.
One neighbor pointed out that even that solution is not ideal as Worsch Way is too narrow and wasn’t designed for houses on both sides.
Levitt said this is the first he’s heard these comments from the city.
Fuchs said while it’s great that city staff is meeting with the neighbors, the subcommittee is not able to take direction on information that is coming to them secondhand. The subcommittee will work on getting the city’s comments in writing and Levitt will likely see the comments after his next submittal of the project to the city.
Neighbors and subcommittee member Ken Farinsky questioned why Levitt couldn’t bring the entire project down to street level and have one access off Del Mar Trails, which would appear to solve everyone’s problems.
“I understand you’re trying to respect the terrain but this is just a bump in the middle of a flattened area,” Farinksy said, noting that the neighbors just want a piece that matches the rest of the puzzle perfectly.
Subcommittee member Frisco White pointed out that Levitt has the right to submit whatever he wants to the city and that he is trying to do something different and unique with this project. White asked whether Levitt will resubmit his original design or ever consider submitting a project with adjusted access points.
“I still believe in the original design but I try to listen,” said Levitt. “I will go through the process with the city, I may take the choice to satisfy the city’s comments.”