Letters to the Editor, Sept. 3, 2015 issue

New One Paseo: What about affordable housing, emergency response times?

What about affordable housing, emergency response times in gridlock and open space?

I was pleased to see hundreds of people attend the Aug. 19 Carmel Valley Community Planning Board (CVCPB) Workshop to provide feedback on the preliminary design concepts presented by Kilroy on the “new” One Paseo project, but I still have some lingering questions.

I appreciated the comments of CVCPB board member Ken Farinsky, who said he wants to see great architecture, a study analyzing the traffic along Del Mar Heights Road, and a better explanation of how the office, retail and residential uses will flow together with independent stores in the retail space. After reviewing the concepts, here are a few of my concerns.

The amount of affordable housing was not mentioned. During the last round of public meetings, many residents commented on the need for more affordable housing so that their children could afford to move back to the community they grew up in. When the San Diego City Council first approved the project, Kilroy agreed to build 10 percent of the units as affordable to all resident groups — a minimum that I think is important. How will One Paseo meet this need?

Because they are a key to mitigating traffic impacts on already congested Del Mar Heights Road, the public deserves more information on how both the traffic signal synchronization and the GPS-emergency vehicle pre-emption systems will work, particularly at peak traffic times. Shouldn’t the Fire Department be given Kilroy’s new traffic analysis, time to review it with the proposed pre-emption system, and then asked to give the community assurances of their ability to meet their response standards with the elevated traffic level?

The long-term success of the project in delivering the “heart of the community” we were promised will depend on the effective integration of the retail, residential and office uses. The current site plans have them segregated and concentrated in different corners of the site. I agree with many who asked for an actual mix of uses across the site to maximize flow and create a real sense of community. We need to see this in a site plan option.

The amount of open space is projected to be about 10 percent in all the concepts that were presented. I think we’d all like to understand how this space will be utilized, and see at least one option of how it could be increased with more stacked parking, or possibly stacked retail, which is common in neighboring communities.

While I appreciate Kilroy’s effort to work with the community, there is still a gap that needs to be closed in addressing these important project elements before One Paseo moves forward.

Barbara Bry, candidate for San Diego City Council District 1

Byproduct of stop signs, traffic lights is air pollution, wasted fuel

The intriguing recent article by Logan Jenkins and then the excellent follow-up comments by Dr. Richard Levak both should trigger some thoughtful thinking and planning by Del Mar.

The by-product of the stop signs and traffic lights is really serious car pollution that we have now almost every afternoon on Camino Del Mar. That alone gives us a huge reason to get this idea moving.

“Vehicles drive much slower than before, but on average they get through faster” — wow! “Roundabouts (are) natural tranquilizers of road rage, are safer, more efficient and infinitely more beautiful ...”

At our house, every afternoon, we look down on the stack of cars on Camino Del Mar idling all the way up the hill and slowly passing by our house in the daily parade at two or three miles per hour, belching tons of pollutants. We receive a continuous dusting of brake pad and tire soot from the stop-and-start that seems to permeate everywhere.

How much gasoline is wasted and exhausted into our air from this inefficiency? Literally tons of it — daily! You can almost write your name in the soot on the sidewalk. If we are serious about doing our part to soften our footprint on the earth, this is where Del Mar should start.

Del Mar likes to consider itself a leader in planning, and this idea is already taking hold around us. Let’s get going on our own planning to consider this excellent win-win idea.

Lew Dominy, Del Mar

Thoughts on improving Del Mar’s DRO

The Del Mar Council has appointed an ad hoc committee to review Del Mar’s Design Review Ordinance (DRO). Anyone building or modifying their residence is aware of the DRO, and there is merit to evaluate where it is effective and also where revisions are necessary.

Most residents have full-time jobs and rarely get involved in the inner workings of City Hall. However, once in a while a situation occurs that demands our attention or we will regret that we did not speak up when we had the chance. Such a situation occurred July 27, when numerous residents gathered to protest the way the ad hoc committee was appointed.

Ostensibly, the committee was to be made up of members that included a cross-section of Del Mar residents, as well as a few members who had experience relevant to the DRO. This is not what occurred.

An overrepresented majority of the appointees are from or support an activist group that has well-known ideas as to what should be approved and not approved in Del Mar. This includes banning approval of basements and outdoor areas that many of us already enjoy. This group’s caustic, divisive and “lawfare” approach on the community was in full display at the DRB meeting Wednesday night.

The DRO can be improved, but this ad hoc committee is not the vehicle that can deliver that result. It makes more sense to have the council retain an unbiased consultant, armed with useful feedback from a representative cross-section of residents, local builders and architects, to determine what needs to be improved and best practices that can be borrowed from other cities.

In the alternative, it seems obvious that the present ad hoc committee should be dissolved and appointments to the committee be made to ensure all residents of Del Mar have an equal voice in any decisions that are made. It is not too late for the City Council to do what is right for all of Del Mar. Maintaining the current approach will divide the community and empower the mess seen on Aug. 26 at the DRB meeting.

Scott Linton, Del Mar

Jeff Sturgis, Del Mar

Why is new home building OK, but beach showers are not?

I’ve really had enough with “drought hysteria!”

I agree with last week’s letter that it’s embarrassing that beach showers are off for residents and tourists (many who drive directly back to Arizona after a day at our beaches). The still-on showers in Encinitas have water restrictors on them, which allows water to come out for a few seconds, enough for people to rinse off without wasting water.

Meanwhile, the city approves massive new home building in Pacific Highlands Ranch, 4S Ranch, major expansion at UTC Mall with yet more crammed-in apartments, One Paseo, the Strawberry Field 85/15 Mall in Carlsbad, and a possible new Charger Stadium, which all use tons of water.

Why is out-of-control new growth and cutting down hills all over the city for yet more residents approved, yet decades-old beach showers that use very little water and were there for decades not OK? Whose ridiculous idea was this?

And I’m angered that a local news station has a not-funny “ugly lawn contest” encouraging people to let their lawns die completely, which is an egregious neighborhood eyesore and hurts property values. Once your lawn is dead, it will not turn green if it rains this winter.

Turn the beach showers back on, get artificial turf, water your real lawn twice per week at night, and stop this nonsense. Get your priorities straight, San Diego and local city officials!

Carla Mapes, Torrey Hills

The heritage and character of Del Mar

We applaud the civic center architects for their creative parking solution and final site plan. However, many believe the very contemporary aesthetic design with mostly glass and little articulation to be very cold, boxlike and commercial (appropriate for a large city) ... not in keeping with the unique character and warm charm of our small village.

The design elements that have achieved Del Mar’s unique character and charm are deeply rooted in Del Mar’s history. Foremost was the historic grand Old Del Mar Hotel, the heart of the village, followed by the iconic Stratford Square, the most photographed building in all North County. Others include our beloved library, the historic train station, our community church, the Power House and other more Craftsman-style buildings, softened by articulation and inclusion of natural wood or stone elements.

It is Del Mar’s unique character and the one-of-a-kind charm of our small seaside village that attracted many of us to Del Mar. The original Design Review Ordinance was created to preserve and protect the unique character and heritage of (our) small village. The goal was to protect against out-of-scale inappropriate developments and encourage those that will enhance the character of our village.

Many believe the very contemporary, high, boxy, cold commercial design submitted is out of scale and not in harmony with the surrounding neighborhood, or in keeping with the unique character of our village that is Del Mar.

As noted, we applaud the architects for their work to date and believe (with input from the community) they certainly have the talent, expertise and creativity to design our civic center to be efficient and a design in keeping with our heritage and the unique character and small-town village charm that is Del Mar.

Your input is important.

Jim Watkins, Kit Leeger

Roundabouts make perfect sense for Del Mar

Roundabouts make perfect sense for Del Mar. We have so many stop signs and so much traffic, especially in the beach area.

The stopping and goings, as everyone knows, causes pollution and noise during each stop, which we don’t need.

I agree with the Levak, Cree and Paa letters, and the ones that haven’t been written, in favor of installing at least one roundabout in Del Mar sooner than later. Why are we waiting? Let’s do it.

Barbara Harper

Del Mar City Council must consider a ‘redo’

Mr. Emerson stated in his letter (Aug. 13) that he had been in attendance at the Ad Hoc Committee meetings charged with reviewing the current design review ordinance. I have attended every meeting held thus far from start to finish, and I have never seen Mr. Emerson present. Therefore I must challenge his observations regarding how well organized, thorough and efficient the meetings have been thus far.

The committee meets for an hour and 30 minutes twice monthly and has met a total of four times. They have struggled to adopt a specific work plan, a time frame in which to report back to the city council, and whether to start with problems/concerns or the application process. A recording of these meetings might prove helpful in order to clarify process, accomplishments, goals and objectives.

Additionally, Mr. Emerson’s statement, “the process for appointing members was fair” is without merit. The public is aware that the City Council’s Resolution 2015-24 called for establishing the Ad-Hoc Committee and directed staff to advertise for candidates for the committee and to Schedule Interviews for Committee Appointments. The City Staff Report dated June 15, 2015, stated that “At the May 18, 2015, City Council meeting, the City Council confirmed it would employ its customary process for the selection of Committee members by advertising for vacancies, interviewing candidates ....” Twenty-eight residents submitted applications, with the majority presenting themselves at the June 15 council meeting (as had been stated as a requirement).

Strangely, without any prior notification, the City Council chose not to conduct interviews (with the exception of architects) and selected nine committee members. Seven of the nine members selected were well-known to council members, many of whom had met with the same City Council members in the weeks leading up to their appointment and lobbied them for “a need to review immediately the effectiveness of our current DRO with a goal to “tighten” some ordinances and perhaps eliminate others.”

The members of the community that I have spoken with are alarmed, discouraged and outraged. The entire community is being directed by a minority of people, many of whom live in the same neighborhood. Items on their agenda include, but are limited to, the elimination of: basements, outdoor kitchens, pools, reduction of FAR. You name it, this group wants to take it away. The council must seriously consider a “redo.” We’ve had enough!

Jan Kinney

Please, can’t we restore showers at the beach?

I want to add my voice to those who are embarrassed at shutting off the water for rinsing at the beach.

I was sitting in my living room on 13th Street when a young man came to my door asking if he and his friends from Arizona could use my hose to rinse sand off before heading back to Phoenix. He was unpleasantly surprised that “they have turned off the showers at the beach.” I can only imagine the 5-hour drive home covered with sand and grit. I gladly allowed them to use my water and have to believe that they used the same amount a few blocks away as they would have at the beach.

I am greatly concerned about the water shortage and do my part to conserve. But please, can’t we find a better way to cut usage than treating our visitors in such a way? Del Mar’s economy gains so much from guests, and we want them to come back!

Julia Wilson, Del Mar

Del Mar’s ugly politics are alive and well

I call BS on Bud Emerson’s editorial comments in your Aug. 14th edition regarding a newly created Ad Hoc committee in Del Mar.

I would like to actually present the truth as to how this committee was created and why so many hundreds of our residents are up in arms over the way City Council handpicked this Ad Hoc committee, breaking its own resolution and word to the citizens who applied.

Early in the year, a group of residents unhappy with some of the new development in town, solicited council members individually to lobby prioritizing the creation of an Ad Hoc committee to review our DRO and DRB process, with the express intention of making the process more restrictive. Their hope was to fast-track this committee creation through City Council before the general citizenry knew what was happening.

Fortunately, some of us got wind of this underground effort and showed up to City Council meetings expressing our concerns and opinions of how to improve the DRB process. There are definitely contrasting opinions of what gives Del Mar its “unique village character.”

We pleaded with the council to publicize the creation of this new Ad Hoc, open the applications to the entire community and to please select a group of residents that reflect the views of our entire Del Mar population.

There were 28 applications submitted, of which 16 new faces were stepping up to volunteer service on this extremely important committee. Every applicant was emailed the time and date of the council meeting where they were to show up and be interviewed by Council members in a public setting.

At the beginning of that meeting, the council announced they were eliminating the interviews and making their selection from the applications submitted. In about 15 minutes’ time, the City Council selected 11 people to serve on the Ad Hoc, with three council members voting exactly the same on eight of the applicants, those same eight being the group who initiated the entire issue.

The truth is, we asked for fairness and balanced viewpoints to be of the utmost importance in the selection process. The council changed the rules; hand-selected a group of residents who have a very biased agenda regarding our community, as does Mr. Emerson, and disrespected a large group of citizens who care very much about the future of Del Mar and are extremely tired of the manipulation that goes on in this town’s politics.

This isn’t a case of being poor sports; it’s a case of demanding our elected officials play by their own rules and listen to the entire community.

Terri Pavelko

Why am I paying double the list price for One Paseo?

I went to the dealer today to buy a One Paseo car.

Now, other dealers had already offered the latest version of these cars for years — but Kilroy, the manufacturer, had gotten into the business late and was late to market with their One Paseo car.

While other dealers and manufacturers were first to market on a very popular product, and could charge list price and then some, Kilroy is late to market with a commodity product. Yet they still want to charge double list price.

So I walked away from the deal.

Dave Wolfson

Giving input on the new city hall design

This week’s letter to the editor by Watkins/Leeger criticized the architect’s Design Review Board Draft Preview of the new city hall as boxy wood-and-glass commercial design that is inappropriate as the character of Del Mar, and instead touts the old Normandy style of the old hotel, Stratford Building, library and the many buildings he built in town with that style.

They prefer that style — I, for one don’t. Actually, that style was used for the commercial buildings of the time, wasn’t it?

It seems to me that sometime during the history of the city, a poll was taken that found most citizens didn’t want that style adopted for the overall style for Del Mar.

The style presented by the architects reminds me of the first Del Mar Plaza that occupied the bluff where the current Plaza sits, and was open, friendly and attractive, because it was built with post and beam wood and glass. To me, that is more Del Mar.

Our input is wanted — that’s mine — what is yours?

Ralph Peck, Del Mar