Aperture Del Mar aims to bring office campus to Pacific Highlands Ranch

At a special board meeting on Nov. 16, the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board will review Aperture Del Mar, a new corporate headquarters and science research campus proposed off Carmel Valley Road and SR-56 in Pacific Highlands Ranch. The five-building, 630,000- square-foot campus aims to attract a big tech-focused or life-sciences company. Lincoln Property Company purchased the employment center site from Pardee Homes last June and it is fully entitled for 780,000 square feet.

Overall, the planning board members said they like the design of the project but they had questions about how the project was able to get its entitlements from the city without an amendment to the community plan.

As board member Ken Farinsky pointed out when the project was first heard in May, the Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Plan calls for a 300,000-square-foot employment center and Aperture is twice the size of what the land was entitled for.

Rather than approve the project on Oct. 27, the board continued the item to the Nov. 16 special meeting, allowing time for a report from the city’s development services department and the long-range planning department to explain how the extra square footage is allowed.

Matt Semic, of engineering firm Latitude 33, said the increased square footage is allowed in the design guidelines that address bulk and mass and in the tentative maps within the PHR Master Plan Environmental Impact Report.

“The project conforms to those documents, which supersede the community plan,” Semic said.

“We are confident we have the entitlements; the guidelines are clear,” echoed Brig Black, executive vice president of Lincoln Property Company.

Carmel Valley Planning Group board member Barry Schultz said the board deserves an explanation from city staff on how the community plan can be superseded in this case.

“The discretionary action taken didn’t take into account the community plan which is troubling and concerning,” said Schultz, noting that it isn’t clear how a project double the square footage would still be consistent with the analysis in the EIR on how traffic and all the surrounding projects fit onto Carmel Valley Road. “It’s troubling that it is the design guidelines that govern the development.”

Pacific Highlands Ranch traffic is a major concern of the board’s — board member Laura Copic said she was not sure how Aperture’s traffic would co-exist with the school traffic in the area to nearby campuses of Canyon Crest Academy, Pacific Trails Middle School, Solana Ranch Elementary School and Cathedral Catholic High School.

“Edgewood Bend is an absolute nightmare, it’s already backed up to the on-ramp,” Copic said.

Scott Moffat, of Lincoln Property Company, said while the square footage has doubled, the amount of average daily trips has remained the same as it is zoned for science research and aims to house one large corporation potentially using the entire campus, not multi-tenants.

There will be a new signalized entrance on Edgewood Bend Court and two other separate right-ins on Edgewood in an attempt to create as harmonious a traffic flow as possible. Moffat said they aim not to put traffic into the community as it is located right off SR-56 and Carmel Valley Road.

The campus will also be “highly amenitized” with a café, fitness center, event lawn, amphitheater, half basketball court, sand volleyball court, dog park, jogging trail and bike shop with bikes for rent that employees can take out during lunch or peak times to help minimize traffic in the neighborhood.

The project will also feature a landscape buffer between Aperture and neighboring Fire Station 47 and berms to shield the view from residents across Edgewood Bend.

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