Carmel Valley Rec. Council not permitted to comment on One Paseo project

By Karen Billing

The Carmel Valley Parks and Recreation Council was not permitted to discuss or debate One Paseo at its recent meeting.

The board had hoped to comment at its May 1 meeting on the One Paseo draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), specifically on the recreation element for the 608 multi-family residential units. After reviewing the recreation council’s agenda, city staff informed board chair Ginny Barnes via e-mail that they would not be allowed to discuss One Paseo or to take action by submitting a comment letter to the DEIR.

“We’ve been censored,” Barnes said. “I was taken by huge surprise that we were told not to discuss it.”

Mike Rodrigues, district manager of community parks division 1, said when it comes to development agreements, developmental environmental documents and other documents of a planning nature, the primacy resides with the local planning group. Rodrigues consulted with the deputy director, assistant director and the city attorney’s office.

The rec. council’s comments would have been related to what Barnes said they feel is an error in the DEIR, that Carmel Valley has 13 population-based parks. Barnes said only five of those 13 are population-based, the rest are greenbelts paid for by local Maintenance Assessment Districts. If they are to be identified as population-based parks, Barnes said the city should actually be paying for their maintenance.

The Parks and Rec. board’s draft comment letter said that Carmel Valley is short on park space and there’s no land available for additional parks so the impact of development on local parks must be met with an on-site population-based park land.

Speaking not as the board’s chair during public input, Barnes pointed to the council’s standard operating procedures that specifically reference “reviewing development projects.” She said it has never happened before that they haven’t been able to discuss a development.

“I’m very frustrated,” Barnes said. “Everyone has a right and an obligation to respond to the DEIR and I will send a letter as an individual.” As responses are due by May 29, Barnes said they might form an ad hoc committee to comment on the recreation element through the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board. Representing Kilroy, John Leppert said he would be happy to attend any such meeting to help explain any issues and listen to their input.