Board hears input on proposed Carmel Valley housing development

A view of the graded Villa Costa Vista site
A view of the graded Villa Costa Vista site at the end of Marcasel Place where currently three lots are proposed.

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board continues to review conceptual layouts for Villa Costa Vista, a proposed housing development on a 40-acre parcel in Carmel Valley.

The 40-acre property is mostly zoned open space with two developable sites on opposite corners in Pacific Highlands Ranch and Carmel Valley: 4.3 acres on Old El Camino Real to the north and 1.7 acres on Marcasel Place off Kibbings Road to the south. On Feb. 25, the board heard the latest conceptual plans for three lots on the Marcasel site and four lots on Old El Camino Real.

Back in 2005, a proposal to initiate a community plan amendment to develop the property was denied by the planning board, the San Diego Planning Commission and City Council as it significantly increased development into the protected and preserved open space.

While those previous plans shifted the open space boundaries to increase the developable area, Myles Cooper of CEA Coastal Engineering, said the currently proposed pads are out of the environmentally-sensitive lands protected with the city’s Multiple Habitat Protection Area (MHPA).

“What we’re proposing is under the maximum development allowed,” Cooper said.

Cooper said the owner has moved away from plans for a more dense housing development, including the 42 condos/townhomes proposed in October 2020 and the 11 townhomes proposed on the Old El Camino side in January. In February, Cooper said they were considering proposing seven homes on the Marcasel area until they received a letter from five Marcasel Place homeowners in opposition. As a result of the feedback, the conceptual plan was revised again from seven to three lots.

Neighbors have expressed concerns about the development to the board—one opponent submitting a 13-page letter detailing the history of the site. Cooper disputed some of the facts within the letter.

At the Feb. 25 Zoom meeting, Marcasel Place resident Frank Macaulay said he had always assumed that the existing graded plot at the end of the road would be developed but he is concerned that the plans still seem to extend too far into the open space canyon: “It doesn’t seem right to me,” he said.

The 40-acre parcel
The 40-acre parcel extends from Marcasel Place to the south (shown by the marker) to the curve in Old El Camino Real to the north.

Kibbings Road resident Jeffrey Heden was actively involved in opposing the previously proposed development of the property in 2005. Heden said that a development that is consistent with the current entitlements in the community plan should be allowed but he opposes any plan that increases the developmental area and density “solely for private gain at the expense of zoned open space and adjacent residences.”

At the meeting, residents also shared concerns about the impact any future homes would have on views, from across the canyon from Torrey Highlands Park as well as ocean views from Marcasel.

As Cooper continues with the design process, the board would like to better understand what permits will be required, such as if the project will need a MHPA boundary adjustment as well as the amendments that would be needed to the Carmel Valley Neighborhood 7 Precise Plan and the Pacific Highlands Ranch Subarea Plan.

The board encouraged the owner to move forward with a development that stays in line with the existing plans and is less dense.