Allowing One Paseo any increased development rights should require Kilroy to provide exceptional community benefits. The idea of providing “exceptional community benefits” is not a new one. The term is borrowed from a policy in the Del Mar development codes that allows certain development bonuses for density, floor area ratio, heights, etc. only if justified by exceptional benefits and amenities committed back to the community by the developer. This principle has been applied to projects like the Del Mar Plaza and the Inn L’Auberge, where exceptional public benefits included such things as public use spaces, a community market, and funding for the Del Mar library (since built at CDM at 13th St).
Exceptional community benefits can be “any on-site or off-site improvements, protections, regulations, funding, or programs not typically expected of a development project but that are committed to a project as justification for any development in excess of the underlying zoning.” As I see it, the community benefits associated with One Paseo could be anything we as a community deem necessary and appropriate commensurate with the development bonuses requested by Kilroy.
Kilroy is asking for densities well above what is permitted by the underlying zoning. Here are some community benefits and amenities I think Kilroy should provide (and fund) for any development bonuses they request:
1) A mandated mix of retail, restaurant, entertainment/cultural and public use areas be built into the project and a guarantee that these community-serving uses do not get reduced after project approval. Examples include public plaza areas, courtyards, green space, and sidewalk (café) seating. These public use areas should be large enough for a weekly farmers market or similar community-wide events. Cultural uses could include North Coast Repertory Theatre or a children’s interactive museum;
2) A requirement for local transportation alternatives, including a neighborhood shuttle bus system provided by Kilroy connecting One Paseo to the surrounding neighborhoods and office developments. Our Community Plan calls for a transit bus linking the town center to the surrounding neighborhoods. Transit connections should also be explored to NCTD bus and Coaster stations in Sorrento Valley, Del Mar, and Solana Beach;
3) “Opening up” the plan design outward to integrate the project within the larger community context. The current plan provides its “Main Street” concept internal to the site and cut off from the rest of the community. The plan should also include pedestrian bridges, bike paths and trails with direct linkages to adjacent residential, office and commercial areas across Del Mar Heights Road, El Camino Real, and High Bluff. Community enhancements should also include street and roadway enhancements and Carmel Valley identity signage at the “gateway” intersection of Del Mar Heights and High Bluff;
4) Programs for communitywide events such as a farmers markets, “First Thursday” events, summer concerts or Taste of Carmel Valley, etc. Newer communities like San Elijo Hills and Liberty Station host year-round events and activities. There’s no reason Kilroy can’t sponsor similar year-round community-wide events for Carmel Valley.
One Paseo project has an opportunity to fulfill our Community Plan’s vision for a true town center and provide exceptional benefits for our community. We can help create the list of what those exceptional community benefits might be. I encourage our community, city planners and elected officials to come up with ideas and suggestions for uses, improvements, amenities and programs we’d like to see best serve our community and send them to the planning board, Councilmember Lightner, Mayor Filner and Kilroy. In reference to the Community Plan, any benefit should strive to meet the “social, cultural, and recreational needs of the community as well as provide the shopping function…” If Kilroy wants the benefit of increased densities and other development bonuses, we can and should demand our own benefits of community-wide significance.
Robert Scott, AICP, LEED AP is an award-winning land use planner, LEED for Homes Green Rater, and 10-year Carmel Valley resident. This is Bob’s third article pertaining to the One Paseo project. He can be reached at (858) 480-1098 or by visiting www.rjsplanning.com.