Carmel Valley planning board votes against holding special meeting on One Paseo re-circulated EIR

By Karen Billing

A new 29-page portion of the One Paseo Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has been re-circulated for a 45-day public review period that ends on Dec. 10.  The document includes two new alternatives for the project planned for the corner of El Camino Real and Del Mar Heights: A 800,000-square-foot reduced mixed-use option and a 80,000-square-foot “specialty food market retail” option.

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board voted 9-3 in favor of not scheduling a special meeting on the topic. Board members Nancy Novak, Debbie Lokanc and Christopher Moore voted against the motion, believing that a meeting was needed for people to learn the details of the alternatives and have an opportunity to weigh in.

Board chair Frisco White said the intent of a meeting, if they had one, would be on the technical adequacy of the re-circulated EIR, not a discussion on the merits of the project. He said he feared 300 people would show up to argue for or against the project and have to be turned away because they weren’t addressing the topic at hand, which would be a waste of everybody’s time.

Instead, as the board meetings are cancelled in both November and December due to the holidays, the board members voted unanimously to direct White to submit their comments to the city on the document.

White will have the option to call a special meeting if necessary — Thursday, Nov. 21, is the only possible date for such a meeting.

There will still be plenty of time for the public to rehash the project, board member Manjeet Ranu said.

As the project is expected to come before the board in January or February for final recommendation of approval, people will still be able to voice their opinion to the board before the board makes its decision. Additionally, people have until Dec. 10 to submit comments on the re-circulation.

Both of the new alternatives, the reduced mixed use and the specialty market option, will not have the Main Street feature.

According to the re-circulated EIR, due to the 50 percent reduction in retail, the reduced mixed-use alternative would not be able to locate residential over retail on the ground floor, which would eliminate the vertical mix of uses seen in the reduced Main Street option.

The retail area would resemble “a traditional neighborhood shopping center with single story strip retail or stand-along buildings serviced by surface parking lots, rather than gathering spaces.”

The specialty market alternative includes a 30,000-square-foot food market in combination with 50,000 square feet of retail uses such as banks, restaurants and community stores, all expected to generate 6,500 Average Daily Trips (ADTs), the same as the 500,000-square- foot office use the site is entitled to.

The specialty market would be a one-story, stand-alone building and other retail stores would be grouped into one of more single-story buildings. Larger restaurants could be constructed as stand-alone, one-story buildings.

This alternative is the environmentally superior alternative as it results in the least impact to traffic and avoids other significant visual and community character impacts, according to the EIR.

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