Carmel Valley residents voice variety of opinions on ‘Mainstreet’ project

By Karen Billing

Staff Writer

Planners took a look at the latest from Kilroy Realty’s “Mainstreet for Carmel Valley” project at the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board’s regional issues subcommittee meeting on July 20. Planners received a great deal of input from the community on the in-development project planned for the corner of El Camino Real and Del Mar Heights Road, across from Del Mar Highlands Town Center.

Recently named “One Paseo,” the project will include residential units, shops, restaurants, office buildings, a boutique hotel and a movie theater with a pedestrian-oriented main street running though the center of the project.

The heights of the office buildings are varied—one is a 10-story building with nine stories of office over one floor of retail; another is seven stories over one retail. Offices and the movie theater wrap around a parking structure so it is hidden from view.

Currently, Kilroy is entitled to 500,000 square feet on the property and the community plan calls for just office use. One Paseo’s plan is about 1.8 million square feet (just over 800,000 square feet is for retail and office uses, therefore the balance is for residential and hotel uses) and will require a community plan amendment.

The meeting room in the AMN Healthcare building was packed and chair Jan Fuchs said there is probably enough interest in the project to hold a community forum in the coming months. Reactions to One Paseo at this meeting, attended by more than 25 people, were mixed.

“We don’t need more office buildings,” said local resident Gail Hanson. “ A lot of the office buildings here are empty because of the economy.”

Hanson also doubted the need for a hotel, with three down the street on El Camino Real.

The project was also criticized for being too dense and urban for Carmel Valley.

“The sheer intensity of this project will change the character of the community,” said Anne Harvey, co-chair of the subcommittee.

However, several in attendance felt the change would be welcome.

“We want more life in Carmel Valley,” said resident Esfira Muchnik. “We want to see something new in this sleepy community.”

“I’m really excited about this project,” echoed resident Cynthia Dial. “I’d love to see our community have a heart.”

Her husband Kent Dial, who works as a realtor, said that people love the touch and feel of Carmel Valley but often ask “Where’s downtown? Where’s the village?”—One Paseo could help bring what people are looking for, he said.

“I realize the original community plan may not have envisioned this but this is what is needed now,” Kent Dial said.

Resident Jerry Mailhot said he agrees that Kilroy’s is a great concept—he’d just prefer it to be at 500,000 square feet.

In 2010, Kilroy mailed out over 8,000 brochures with their Main Street concept to Carmel Valley residents and the response was “overwhelmingly positive,” according to Marcela Escobar-Eck of Atlantis Group, which is helping Kilroy with its public outreach.

“Some concerns were raised [by community residents] and the architecture and design team worked on ways to address those issues,” said Escobar-Eck of the concerns regarding traffic, community character and the project’s bulk and scale.

Robert Little, vice president of development for Kilroy, reminded attendees that Kilroy has a vested interested in Carmel Valley — Kilroy is headquartered in Carmel Valley and owns several office buildings, including the AMN Healthcare building where the meeting was held. He said that, as a member of the community, they share the same concerns that residents have.

The plan has been revised three times and in June Kilroy submitted its fourth version to the city for review — the latest version reduced the retail component by 40,000 square feet. The project’s Environmental Impact Report is expected to be released by August, followed by a 45-day public review period.

A new website,

, allows people to check out Kilroy’s plan and submit comments.

Besides the project’s density, traffic remains one of the biggest concerns. Resident John Dean said the surrounding roads are already stressed, neighbors arguing that they sometimes cannot leave their homes because Del Mar Heights Road is so congested from Interstate 5 back-up and people trying to stay off SR-56.

With One Paseo, several intersection improvements will be made, including on High Bluff; new signals on Del Mar Heights; a four-way intersection on El Camino Real that will go into both One Paseo and Del Mar Highlands Town Center; and a new traffic light to replace the stop sign at Carmel Creek Road and Del Mar Trails.

Additionally, they plan to synchronize the lights on Del Mar Heights for a smoother flow.

Resident Bill Moody said he was not looking forward to an exacerbated traffic experience — he complained that it can sometimes take 10 to 15 minutes to drive a mile on Del Mar Heights.

“It’s the worst part of driving on the face of the earth,” Moody said. “I have zero faith that the city can synchronize the lights properly. I think it will be chaos and just add to the commute.”

Frank Muchnik said he thinks the traffic is not as bad in Carmel Valley as in Los Angeles or La Jolla or really anywhere in San Diego. He said the most traffic seems to come from the schools or getting onto the freeway.

“It’s a beautiful mixed-use project and I don’t know why everyone is so upset about traffic,” Muchnik said. “The traffic will be there whether the project is built or not.”