It is time to put aside the hyperbole and exaggeration about One Paseo. Whether it is constructed or not, the sky is not going to fall and the world is not going to come to an end. Only by sorting through the exaggerations, however, can we make a decision we all can live with.
I should say at the outset that I support some kind of development on that land. It has been an eyesore ever since I moved to Carmel Valley almost 12 years ago. It is time for that vacant parcel to be turned into something that benefits the community.
Opponents of the development complain that it will change the character of the community. It will certainly change the character of the block. But Carmel Valley itself cannot change significantly, because the community is pretty much built out already. The neighborhoods are likely to be unchanged. The character of Carmel Valley is nevertheless likely to be affected by changes in the surrounding areas. New developments are already adding housing to Torrey Hills. When development in Pacific Highlands Ranch resumes, the hundreds of new households will affect Carmel Valley far more than One Paseo will. Carmel Valley resources will be tested, including Carmel Valley commercial resources. It may well need the retail services One Paseo promises to bring. At any rate, Carmel Valley cannot let the world pass it by. It is going to change, largely because of factors over which it has absolutely no control.
Some of the arguments against One Paseo border on the silly. No parks are included in the plan, so residents of One Paseo will overwhelm local parks? I haven’t noticed much crowding at local parks so far, and I don’t see how 1,600 new residents will change that. Perhaps Kilroy will plan a park in One Paseo and make the objection moot. One Paseo “violates” the general plan? General plans are not cast in stone. They are just that, general plans that evolve with the community with input from the community. And we are giving community input right now.
Traffic impacts, however, do need to be addressed. Opponents claim that traffic will “impose gridlock” on “already congested” roads and “overwhelm” Carmel Valley. I wonder how many have actually read the traffic portion of the draft environmental impact statement. There will be long-term negative impacts that do warrant concern, particularly along Del Mar Heights Road at Camino Real and High Bluff and at the ramps to Interstate 5. Mitigation at the interchanges with I-5 is largely the responsibility of Caltrans, which may or may not cooperate with the city. The DEIR points out that the High Bluff and El Camino Real interchanges would be no better than marginally acceptable whether One Paseo is built or not. Still, these impacts may be unavoidable costs of One Paseo, and we do have to decide whether they are costs we are willing to pay in exchange for the services One Paseo will offer.
Contrary to what the opponents say but according to the DEIR, most of the other impacted roads and intersections can be mitigated to satisfactory levels (satisfactory at least as far as traffic engineers are concerned), with two exceptions. El Camino Real between San Dieguito Road and Via de la Valle and Via de la Valle between San Andres Drive and El Camino Real are unacceptable now and unlikely to improve until San Dieguito Valley is no longer considered to be environmentally sensitive land. They are also largely in Del Mar, and it is fair to ask whether Carmel Valley should be hamstrung by the needs of Del Mar.
I need to point out, also, that much of the opposition to One Paseo is funded by Del Mar Highlands Shopping Center. There is nothing wrong with that; Kilroy is funding most of the support of One Paseo. But I can question whether it is a good business decision. To the extent that Del Mar Highlands becomes more desirable by the presence of One Paseo, it will benefit from the upscale businesses it attracts and increased rents it collects. If anyone is entitled to be upset, it is Piazza Carmel, which is more likely to be hurt by the competition. But it has not, to my knowledge, done much if anything to complain. By funding (dare I say orchestrating?) the opposition, however, Del Mar Highlands looks to be only self-serving and possibly misinformed.
It does no good to criticize and find fault without proposing alternatives. Something needs to be done with the block. It is one of the few unimproved tracts of land in the area, and it stands out more like a sore thumb every day it goes unimproved. Approve One Paseo, tell Kilroy to come up with something less ambitious, or turn it into a park. But do something.
Robert L. Goodman