By Karen Billing
The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board’s regional issues subcommittee tackled the One Paseo draft Environmental Impact Report at its May 2 meeting. About 60 people crowded the meeting room of the Carmel Valley Library, a mix of opponents and proponents for One Paseo — proponents were wearing green “Support Main Street” pins.
Subcommitee co-chair Anne Harvey said the purpose of the regional issues meeting was to discuss if the EIR accurately describes the impact on the community, good or bad. It was not a forum for project advocacy or opposition.
The subcommittee’s response to the EIR will go before the planning board for approval on May 24 at 7 p.m. They are considering a larger venue than the Carmel Valley Library and should there be a venue-change it will be posted outside the library and in this newspaper (as well as this newspaper’s website:
Comments to the EIR are due by May 29.
“It’s good to hear everybody’s perspectives and what they would like to see in the board’s comments to the city,” board member Chris Moore said.
The One Paseo development is planned for the lot on El Camino Real and Del Mar Heights at 1,857,440 square feet of development. There will be 270,000 square feet of commercial retail, 557,440 of commercial office, a 100,000-square-foot hotel and 608 multi-family residential units. There will be a total of 4,089 parking spaces throughout in underground parking, one above-ground parking structure and small surface lots.
The regional issues group is taxed with gathering input on EIR subjects, such as community character, transportation/traffic, land use consistency, public facilities/services and the proposed project alternatives.
Community character and traffic are the two areas the EIR determined to have significant, unmitigatable impacts.
The way the community plan was written is that there are zones for different uses. As Harvey said, some people don’t like the old concept and think the uses should be mixed, others like set zoning and knowing what kind of uses they can expect. This particular property is zoned for office and entitled for 510,000 square feet of corporate offices.
When co-chair Jan Fuchs asked the audience if anyone had any comments on community character, one woman piped up with: “I would like to get one.”
Some view One Paseo as spoiling community character with gridlocked traffic and too much density and tall buildings—it was pointed out that the proposed 10-story building right on El Camino Real is nothing like neighboring structures in the area, the tallest being eight stories, set back from the road and up against the freeway.
Others were excited about what the new development could bring in character.
One resident thinks of the project the way he does the “refreshed” Del Mar Highlands. He said the Highlands updates were a positive change, the restaurants are full and he enjoys walking around.
“It’s a lovely place to be, the way I imagine this new project will be,” he said.
Ken Farinsky said the photos in the project’s PR campaign and those included in the EIR are misleading as far as scale.
“Show us realistic pictures of the site, not just ones that show it in a good way,” Farinksy said.
Residents also voiced a few concerns with the applicant’s proposed alternatives in the EIR. The project alternatives include developing the site for the corporate office space it is entitled, commercial/retail use only, medical office/senior housing alternative or no retail.
“The alternatives are all or nothing choices. An alternative could be a mixed use village that could have all the components we like at one-third of the scale that still achieves every significant benefit to the community,” said resident Ross Southerland. “We need an alternative that gives us everything we want but at a scale more in keeping with the community character that we all bought into in the first place.”
Other community issues with the EIR arose pertaining to traffic and public facilities, such as schools and parks.
As for traffic, Kilroy’s Bob Little pointed out that the EIR only found five unmitigatable traffic impacts in the 2030 “peak hour, worst case scenario” : Del Mar Heights to I-5, Del Mar Heights and High Bluff, El Camino Real to SR-56 eastbound, and Carmel Creek and Del Mar Trails Road.
Bob Fuchs questioned the methodology used in the study, saying footnotes indicate the analysis is uncertain. “That uncertainty makes Carmel Valley uncomfortable,” Fuchs said.
To help ease traffic impacts, Kilroy has proposed new turn lanes, traffic signals, traffic signal synchronization, a future transit stop and making the project walkable with pedestrian-friendly connections and new bike routes.
Resident Ginny Barnes also brought up concerns with the EIR’s findings on parks.
“It’s a disconnect for the city to say we have enough parks in Carmel Valley,” Barnes said. “Swimming lessons at the Rec. Center are fully sold out and when we added more, those sold out within 24 hours…The city is giving the applicant information and numbers that we do not support. At a minimum we are 15 acres short of parkland in Carmel Valley.”
As mitigation, Kilroy will pay a fee into the Facilities Benefit Assessment fund but Barnes said there is no available land to use funds on.
School impacts were also cited as a missing issue in the EIR, with one full middle school at Carmel Valley Middle, and high schools Torrey Pines and Canyon Crest filling to capacity.
“Paying a fee should not negate the need for analysis on the impact on the schools,” Farinsky said.