As a former city planner in Del Mar and Encinitas for more than 15 years and longtime Carmel Valley resident, I’ve had the opportunity to evaluate numerous projects in terms of their impacts and benefits to our community. Having studied One Paseo carefully, I do have some reservations about the size and scale of the current design. However, I fundamentally believe that our community has way more to lose if this mixed-use, community-serving project is not approved and the land is instead developed as a single use, office-only alternative. I’ve come to this conclusion by assessing the project based on its environmental, economic, and community/social characteristics.
The environmental component relates primarily to traffic impacts associated with the project. The counter-cyclical nature of the proposed residential, office, and retail/entertainment uses are complementary and (generally) do not additively compound traffic conditions. Traffic patterns for the residential and office uses are during morning and afternoon peak traffic times; however, they are in effect going in opposite directions. The anchor retail, restaurant, and cultural/entertainment type uses produce traffic surges during lunch, nighttime hours, and on the weekends outside peak traffic hours and when the office buildings are closed.
The economic component relates to the jobs and sales tax revenues generated by range of uses proposed by One Paseo. Added to this are increased property taxes from the sale of residential condominiums and public improvements paid for by the project proponents, Kilroy Realty. With tight city budgets and declining infrastructure, this project will provide revenues and capital improvements to improve our roads and utilities. In comparison, an office-only alternative provides no real tax revenue stream.
Community character can be defined as maintaining those characteristics of an area that the community values and that provide identity to the community. In communities that have an established identity, community character most often equates to an idea of preservation, a desire to keep the charm and aesthetic of what exists. In the case of One Paseo, we have a truly unique opportunity to actually create our community character with a central “Main Street” core. One Paseo will be unlike anywhere else in San Diego County.
The alternative to One Paseo is not the answer. The alternative to One Paseo is roughly 550,000 square feet of office space. Without One Paseo, we’ll likely get an expansion of the Del Mar Highlands Town Center, plus the Kilroy office development. Without One Paseo there will be no real economic drivers or public improvements. Most importantly, without One Paseo there would be no public benefits, community amenities or social component for the community to enjoy as a whole.
As renowned architect and city planner Daniel Burnham once said, “Make no little plans, they have no magic to stir one’s blood…” I encourage my neighbors, city planners and elected officials to be bold, make no little plans, and help create our collective community legacy. One Paseo will undoubtedly have a profound effect on the character of Carmel Valley —whether that effect is positive or negative is a matter of opinion and public debate. With One Paseo, the community will have that core “sense of place” it currently lacks. It would be woefully short-sighted to not find a way to make this project work for the benefit of our community.
Robert Scott, AICP, LEED AP
Robert Scott, AICP, LEED AP is an award-winning land use planner and LEED for Homes Green Rater who founded his consulting business in 2006. He previously served as a senior planner for the cities of Del Mar and Encinitas. He can be reached at (858) 480-1098 or by visiting www.rjsplanning.com