Carmel Valley planning board votes against holding special meeting on One Paseo re-circulated EIR
By Karen Billing
A new 29-page portion of the One Paseo Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has been re-circulated for a 45-day public review period that ends on Dec. 10. The document includes two new alternatives for the project planned for the corner of El Camino Real and Del Mar Heights: A 800,000-square-foot reduced mixed-use option and a 80,000-square-foot “specialty food market retail” option.
The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board voted 9-3 in favor of not scheduling a special meeting on the topic. Board members Nancy Novak, Debbie Lokanc and Christopher Moore voted against the motion, believing that a meeting was needed for people to learn the details of the alternatives and have an opportunity to weigh in.
Board chair Frisco White said the intent of a meeting, if they had one, would be on the technical adequacy of the re-circulated EIR, not a discussion on the merits of the project. He said he feared 300 people would show up to argue for or against the project and have to be turned away because they weren’t addressing the topic at hand, which would be a waste of everybody’s time.
Instead, as the board meetings are cancelled in both November and December due to the holidays, the board members voted unanimously to direct White to submit their comments to the city on the document.
White will have the option to call a special meeting if necessary — Thursday, Nov. 21, is the only possible date for such a meeting.
There will still be plenty of time for the public to rehash the project, board member Manjeet Ranu said.
As the project is expected to come before the board in January or February for final recommendation of approval, people will still be able to voice their opinion to the board before the board makes its decision. Additionally, people have until Dec. 10 to submit comments on the re-circulation.
Both of the new alternatives, the reduced mixed use and the specialty market option, will not have the Main Street feature.
According to the re-circulated EIR, due to the 50 percent reduction in retail, the reduced mixed-use alternative would not be able to locate residential over retail on the ground floor, which would eliminate the vertical mix of uses seen in the reduced Main Street option.
The retail area would resemble “a traditional neighborhood shopping center with single story strip retail or stand-along buildings serviced by surface parking lots, rather than gathering spaces.”
The specialty market alternative includes a 30,000-square-foot food market in combination with 50,000 square feet of retail uses such as banks, restaurants and community stores, all expected to generate 6,500 Average Daily Trips (ADTs), the same as the 500,000-square- foot office use the site is entitled to.
The specialty market would be a one-story, stand-alone building and other retail stores would be grouped into one of more single-story buildings. Larger restaurants could be constructed as stand-alone, one-story buildings.
This alternative is the environmentally superior alternative as it results in the least impact to traffic and avoids other significant visual and community character impacts, according to the EIR.
Despite the reduction in impacts, the EIR said that significant traffic impacts would still occur.
According to Bob Little, Kilroy’s vice president of development. Kilroy still believes that its “reduced Main Street” alternative is the best plan to meet the project’s goals and objectives.
The plan is 1.4 million square feet total, including 246,500 square feet of retail, 484,000 square feet of office space, as well as 608 residential units.
It is called the reduced Main Street alternative as it is 30 percent reduced from Kilroy’s originally submitted plan.
Carmel Valley resident Ken Farinksy, who has been involved in the What Price Main Street efforts that have opposed the reduced Main Street alternative, said in his initial review there are a few things that worried him about the re-circulated document.
Farinsky expressed concerns about the “creeping up” of building heights in the document, from 8 to 9 feet and that noise impact studies may result in the construction of sound walls in some of the recreational use areas.
“If it’s going to be so noisy that it’s not appropriate for public use, I wonder how it will impact that ‘string of pearls’ community benefit along El Camino Real,” Farinsky said.
Farinsky also told the board that none of community benefits presented to the public in August (such as the “string of pearls” series of pubic plazas or the gateway to the recreation center and fields) are included in the document and as there is no “graphical” material in the document he also said it’s difficult to relate the numbers to the physical design.
Board member Anne Harvey expressed disappointment that Kilroy’s alternatives in the recirculation were not what the board had requested. She said they had asked for an alternative that was mixed use and would generate no more traffic than the current entitlement.
“Instead, we got as an alternative a specialty food and restaurant area that would occupy less than half of the site,” Harvey said. “I’m not sure why, with the traffic generation as the governing factor, or cap, the writers of the DEIR chose only the uses that would generate the most traffic per square foot.”
Harvey said she was also unclear why the mixed-use alternative that is less dense and would not negatively impact the neighborhood character was dismissed as not fulfilling the goals of the overall project.
“The uses could be mixed, combined and arranged around a town square just as happily,” Harvey said.
While the Carmel Valley planning board may not meet on this re-circulated document, White said there is no shortage of feedback on the topic. White said the planning board has a 6-inch-thick binder from Kilroy with letters of support and a similar binder with opposition statements is yet to come from What Price Main Street.
At last week’s meeting, White allowed one public comment in favor of the project from a resident in attendance.
Jim Tuffield, a Carmel Valley resident since 1995, told the board that he and his friends have found themselves empty nesters and having disposable income for the first time in their lives. He said they have loved the added amenities at Del Mar Highlands Town Center but can’t find anywhere to park.
He said at 6 p.m., when they want to go out, they can’t go north to Encinitas because Interstate 5 is jammed, they can’t go south to UTC because it would take an hour and a half and they can’t go east because SR-56 is “bumper to bumper.”
“We’re officially a landlocked community for people who want to go out so it becomes very important for us to have a venue where we live,” Tuffield told the board. “I know you have lots of minutiae and details to be worked out but please try to get this approved.”
People can review the re-circulated EIR document at sandiego.gov/city-clerk/officialdocs, searching under One Paseo. The document is also available at both One Paseo’s website, onepaseo.com, and What Price Main Street’s site, whatpricemainstreet.com.