Carmel Valley’s headline highlights


2008 in Carmel Valley was a year of stoked skateboarders, proud graduates and protesting mountain bikers. Ground was broken for a new park, firefighters got a brand new home and a school district plunged into uncertainty. Here are some of the headlines that kept Carmel Valley crowing this year.

School shake-ups

2008 was a dramatic year for the Del Mar Union School District.

In February, the Del Mar Union School District Board of Trustees bought out 10-year Superintendent Tom Bishop’s contract.

Bishop’s departure led to some mixed emotions with district employees and parents. Trustee Linda Crawford’s emotions were not mixed. She resigned from her post after Bishop’s ouster, ending her 11-year term.

Candidates were then scouted in a nationwide search, eventually finding new Superintendent Sharon McClain.

Trustee Crawford’s interim replacement, Doug Perkins, would then be appointed after an unprecedented public interview session with seven candidates at Ocean Air School.

Perkins was officially appointed to his seat in September, along with new trustee Comischell Rodriguez. Rodriguez will fill the seat left vacant by Janet Lamborghini, a 16-year member of the school board.

The San Dieguito Union High School District also got a new superintendent this year. Kenneth Noah was appointed after the resignation of Peggy Lynch.

What’s new?

  • The Pacific Highlands Ranch Station 47 opened for service on Jan. 28. Firefighters got private dorms, a spacious kitchen, their own gym and an outdoor patio. Three crews of four now work in the station.
  • The Hilton Garden Inn in Torrey Hills opened in early 2008. Owners Robert Rauch and Joe Simone rebounded after a June 2007 fire that completely destroyed the Inn while it was under construction. On March 6, nine months after the fire, they snipped the ribbon on their 80-room hotel, which features two restaurants and a day spa.
  • A new Carmel Valley shopping center - Torrey Corner - opened in Februaryon East Ocean Air Drive and Carmel Mountain Road. The center is home to a Bank of America, Love to Dance, Little Locks and Zip Fusion Sushi, among others.
  • Ocean Air Community Park held a groundbreaking ceremony in April, with hundreds of neighbors in attendance. Students from neighboring Ocean Air School will have joint use of the park’s playing fields. The park, which features its own 16,000-square-foot recreation center, is expected to open in July 2009.
  • The long-awaited Carmel Valley Skatepark opened Nov. 22 after breaking ground in April. Pro skaters showed off their tricks in the park’s bowl and streetscape elements, designed by local skater, to a crowd of skateboard enthusiasts.

High school highs

Canyon Crest Academy sent off its first graduating class in May. The 405 students left behind a school they helped build, a school that when they first started as freshmen, was just a cluster of trailers in a parking lot.

In October, the school celebrated its first ever homecoming in an original way. It was complete with a rally where teachers were crowned homecoming king and queen and their new mascot Rupert the Raven was unleashed.

Trails and tribulations

Trails were at the tip of everyone’s tongue in 2008.

In April, Pardee began work on their Shaw Lorenz housing project, which resulted in the permanent closure of a popular system of trails known as “The Intestines” in Del Mar Mesa.

The Shaw Valley Trail is also impacted by the two-year construction period but remains open on weekends.

The closures were speculated as one of the reasons the Del Mar Mesa Preserve became inundated with new trails and hordes of users this year. The city is developing a new resource management plant that could result in the closure of many of the hiking, biking and riding in this sensitive habitat that is home to protected species of animals, vernal pools and chaparral.

The city is expected to unveil their plan at the Jan. 15 meeting of the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve Citizens Advisory Committee.

It took a village

One of the biggest issues that played out in front of the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board this year was the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch.

Month after month in hours-long meetings, the board and community members debated over the center’s movie theater, view corridors and pedestrian connectivity.

In July, the plan was finally approved. The project, at the empty lot on Carmel Valley Road and Village Center Loop Road, will feature 286 residential units along with a boutique grocery store, shops, office space, restaurants and a movie theater. The board estimates a 2013 opening.

Planning board expands

As Pacific Highlands Ranch is without a planning board, many issues like the Village fell to the Carmel Valley Planning Board. In March, the board changed its bylaws and added two PHR seats.

Dean Dubey and Manjeet Ranu were appointed to the seats, which were non-voting until the bylaws were approved by the city council in December.

Ranu and Dubey will now be voting members of the board and their seats will be up for re-election in March 2009. The planning board now includes 17 members.

Football champs

Cathedral Catholic High School made its first appearance in the State Championship Bowl on Dec. 20 in Carson against St. Mary’s of Stockton and made quite an impression, claiming the Div. II title 37-34.

Cathedral Catholic standout running back Tyler Gaffney set a state bowl record, rushing for 339 yards and five touchdowns on 33 carries.