Carmel Valley area planning boards address parkland issues

By Karen Billing

Staff Writer

The San Diego Canyonlands (SDCL) continued its public outreach campaign to get 10,000 acres of city-owned open space dedicated as parkland by visiting the Torrey Pines, Torrey Hills and Carmel Valley community planning boards in October.

According to Eric Bowlby, SDCL’s executive director, the purpose of dedicating city land is to provide for reliable open space preservation and recreational opportunities within communities, and create a framework for future planning as the city continues to grow.

Having the land dedicated means no change in management or maintenance.

“It’s the same, just protected,” Bowlby said.

Torrey Pines planning board member Bob Shopes said the difference between “designated” and “dedicated” open space is in the legal status and the ability to sell the land —the city would not be able to sell dedicated land for non-park uses without a two-thirds approval of San Diego voters. Uses allowed under dedicated status would be natural open space, outdoor recreation, roads and utility easements—the land would be protected from all other uses.

About 77 percent of the proposed plan is in the northern part of the city: 68 acres of proposed parkland are in the Torrey Pines community; Carmel Valley has over 576 acres in the plan; Del Mar Mesa has 348 acres; and Torrey Hills has 192. Additionally, Fairbanks Ranch has 578 acres and the North City Future Urbanizing Subarea (San Dieguito) has 181 acres.

The Torrey Hills planning group recommended approval of the plan on Oct. 18 and the Carmel Valley planning board members voted to support the general concept of the plan on Oct. 27, although they will review the parcels included to ensure there are no issues with the sites.

CV planning board member Allen Kashani also wanted to ensure that public access and trails — where they make sense — would be stressed by the Canyonlands plan.

“We are working to connect people to nature,” Bowlby said, agreeing that recreation is important for people to become stewards of the city’s unique natural resources.

At its Oct. 13 meeting, the Torrey Pines planning group wasn’t prepared to recommend approval of the plan yet and decided to establish an ad hoc committee to evaluate the specific parcels within the community’s proposed 60 acres.

SDCL is currently in the middle of its public review process, gathering input from planning groups throughout the city. SDCL will then present a detailed report and map to the parks and recreation department, and present a final map for ratification to the city council. The goal is to have the map ratified and the land dedicated by August 2012.

To learn more, visit San Diego Canyonlands at

and click on the Park Dedication button.