Big win for Carmel Valley and drivers on I-5

On May 21, the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to rescind its earlier 7-2 approval of the zone-busting One Paseo Grande proposal for a shopping center with residential towers along Del Mar Heights Road in Carmel Valley.

A successful citizens petition required that the council either rescind its earlier approval or put the matter to a public vote. A U-T editorial urged the council to go to the ballot. Pro-business Republicans on the council seemed to be leaning the same way: “If the council is restrained by the petition from giving the developers what they want, let’s go to a public vote to give the developers what they want.”

Last-minute negotiations between the developer, Kilroy Corp., and project opponents resulted in a compromise that calls for a dramatically scaled-back proposal with half the traffic. Details are yet to be revealed. And the devil, as always, lurks in the details, but ...

In the end, even the project’s supporters favored recission, the cancellation of the previous approval. Amazing, really. The developer will need to redesign and resubmit plans for the site. The developer has agreed to involve community planning groups in the re-design.

The council hearing provided some high drama. Scores of One Paseo opponents in red T-shirts once again took to the floor.

Speakers opposing the One Paseo Grande plan included Supervisor Dave Roberts, former supervisor Pam Slater-Price, Dwight Worden from the Del Mar City Council, and two candidates for SDCC District 1, Barbara Bry and Joe LaCava. Longtime opponents of One Paseo who added their testimony included Ken Farinsky, Diana Scheffler, and Bob Fuchs.

Perhaps even more encouraging was the testimony of San Diegans from every part of the city in support of zoning regulations that benefit our regional quality of life. The message of these otherwise disparate voices is this: The council must listen to community planning groups. Four such groups, plus the cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach, had opposed the One Paseo proposal — to no avail, until last week.

Residents of Carmel Valley and adjacent communities owe an enormous debt to that small band of activists who fought the One Paseo Goliath for six years. Todd Gloria and David Alvarez, both of whom previously supported the proposal, praised the persistence of community activists in educating council members and turning the situation around. Democracy in action. Good guys win a round. Stay tuned. Gordon Clanton teaches sociology at San Diego State University. He welcomes comments at gclanton@mail.sdsu.edu.

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