Torrey Hills board OKs landscape enhancement for long-vacant lot in Carmel Valley

The dusty dirt lot under the SDG&E easement on West Ocean Air Drive in Torrey Hills will finally get some love as the Torrey Hills Community Planning Board was at last given plans to enhance the property at a price tag it could handle.

Instead of the $450,000 enhancement project the board has been pitched over the past few years, the city presented a plan for native plant restoration, temporary irrigation and some decomposed granite cover at a cost of $60,000.

In May, the board voted that a simple landscaping project should not cost in excess of $450,000 and pulled its funding from the city’s coffers. For years, members worked with the city to get the cost of the project down to a reasonable level. The price was driven up by soft costs like consultant work, a site development permit and an environmental process.

Paul Sirois, the city’s assistant deputy director of the open space division and maintenance assessment districts, said that throughout the summer, the board has been working with the Torrey Hills Maintenance Assessment District on exploring ways to cut costs.

The new plan will not require a site development permit and is basically a landscape buffer. There won’t be the trees, boulders, a bench and shade structure of the original plan, but the board was content that a neighborhood blight will finally be improved.