By Claire Harlin
As the City of Del Mar conducts studies that will dictate development as part of its own downtown revitalization, a large-scale Carmel Valley project is in the works that could have a major impact on the future of the Village.
One Paseo, a proposed mixed-use development planned for the 23-acre parcel at the corner of Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real, has some local officials concerned about potential traffic and retail impacts.
“One can easily surmise that it will be a negative impact,” said Del Mar City Councilman Don Mosier. “The only question is how great that impact will be.”
Bob Fuchs, of the advocacy group “What Price Main Street,” gave a presentation to the Del Mar City Council on Jan. 9 that emphasized the scale of the Kilroy Realty project — 1,852,000 square feet, he said — as well as issues like character, congestion and density increase. While the presentation took on a critical tone, several local residents voiced their support for the project, namely because of its added services, diversion and jobs.
Fuchs said the project, which would have a “main street” corridor lined with shops, includes a proposed 536,000 square feet of office space and 270,000 square feet of retail space. By comparison, the Del Mar Highlands Town Center contains 278,000 square feet of retail space.
“This additional retail represents 43 percent more retail space than currently exists in Carmel Valley north of Highway 56,” he said.
Fuchs said the project is estimated to generate about 5,700 trips per day, and will be located in a 10-story and an eight-story building with some office over retail. Additionally, 608 residential units, a hotel, structured parking and possibly a convention center are part of the proposed plan, Fuchs said.
Fuchs pointed out the possibility of increased traffic, which would be added to existing traffic from the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Torrey Pines High School. He said One Paseo might not only undermine Del Mar’s downtown revitalization plan, but it could “seriously degrade ingress and egress to and from both Carmel Valley and Del Mar.” Meanwhile, the sales tax revenues from the project will only be benefitting San Diego to the extent that it draws sales from neighboring jurisdictions, he said.
Representatives from both Kilroy and Atlantis Group, a land-use consulting firm, were present. They did not back up the numbers presented by Fuchs, saying that environmental impact, market and traffic studies are still ongoing and no definitive numbers have been approved by the City of San Diego.
Marcela Escobar, of Atlantis Group, said developers will work with the Del Mar planning department as soon as those studies are complete and more information is available.
“Today you’ve heard a lot of numbers about the size of the project, average daily trips and the traffic, but the reality is that the city has not approved the final traffic study,” Escobar said. “Until then, we can’t discuss those numbers. We are hopeful that the environmental impact report (EIR) will be out for public review in the next few weeks.”
She said the EIR will take into account “any and all impacts,” including effects on the local retail market.
“We are very cognizant of the fact that you are undertaking a tremendous effort to update your Village Specific Plan and how important the effects of anything that could affect retail for Del Mar is,” Escobar told the council.
Richard Copeland, a Carmel Valley resident since 1986, said part of the reason he moved to the area from Santa Barbara is that there was more development and infrastructure here. He said he welcomes the project, especially because it offers employment — something he said is hard to come by in Santa Barbara. He said he doesn’t want to see beautiful Del Mar end up similarly — “land of the newly wed and nearly dead,” he said.
Steve Scott, a Solana Beach resident who has worked for Kilroy for more than 13 years, said that he “agrees to disagree” with much of the information presented in Fuchs’ presentation, and looks forward to presenting the One Paseo project with the community when the time is appropriate.
“We believe the appropriate time is when the DEIR [draft environmental impact report] is out for public review,” he said.
Del Mar Planning and Community Development Director Kathy Garcia said the next step for the city will be to respond to One Paseo’s DEIR in writing to the City of San Diego, the lead agency on the project, during the public comment period.
“They would respond to comments on the final EIR that would go to the City of San Diego for adoption,” said Garcia, adding that there could be “in some cases synergy and in some cases conflict.”