Give Carmel Valley a chance
The last issue of this paper ran a letter from a land use planner asking our community to “Give One Paseo a chance.” While I applaud his stated intentions, Mr. Scott would be well advised to (1) do research independent of that provided by his potential client, (2) focus on the real issue rather than brushing it aside, and (3) as a professional in the field, actually propose a creative option that addresses the interests of all parties.
To the first point, Mr. Scott contends that the impact of a 50 percent increase in the daily traffic between the freeway and our community’s major intersection will be largely mitigated by the differing traffic patterns of the project components. This is straight from the Kilroy PR playbook. Had he actually read the 4,000-plus-page draft EIR (not that I blame him for skirting this) he’d know that it identifies seven intersections and road segments that would suffer from significant, unmitigatable impacts, with expected waits of up to 28 minutes in some places. And he’d likely be as skeptical as most of the attendees of the last planning board meeting were at the questionable assumptions and tortured logic employed by Development Services representatives to assure us that the developer’s proposed mitigation measures would produce sufficient capacity expansion, and perfect synchronization of all these separate points, all day, every day (including Del Mar fair and racing seasons) to keep this vastly pumped up traffic volume flowing freely.
The real issue however is Kilroy’s strategy, alarmingly successful with Mr. Scott and others, of insisting that there are only two alternatives to developing this key site: building the 550,000 square feet of entitled office space or setting aside that entitlement altogether and escalating all the way to a 1.4 million-square-foot mixed use development. This is not the case; there is another alternative that addresses everyone’s goals.
In doing its purchase due diligence, Kilroy undoubtedly discovered that the underlying zoning on several of its parcels provides for converting approximately 70,000 square feet of its office entitlement to retail use. In other words, under its current entitlement Kilroy already had access to two of the three elements necessary to build the mixed use project it envisioned. The appropriate course then would have been to go to the Community Planning Board and propose (1) converting that portion (or possibly more) of their office entitlement to retail, and (2) adding 150-200 residential units to fill out the mixed use concept.
The resulting One Paseo would look something like 450,000 square feet of office, 70,000-plus square feet of retail (about the size of Del Mar Plaza, which would easily accommodate a Trader Joe’s and additional Main Street restaurants and shops), and 150-200 residential units. By working within their entitlement rather than casting it aside, Kilroy would be proposing a mixed use, community-serving development that could be supported by the entire community, as well as most land use planners. Not only would it produce employment and tax base enhancements similar to those its larger scale project purports but also augment the social amenities Mr. Scott emphasized: a building scale more consistent with neighboring developments and a larger Main Street core and central gathering area to “create our community character.”
This approach would produce a “win” for Kilroy, too: a 50 percent-plus increase in building entitlement, many millions in savings by doing a single-phase build-out, plus even more savings in lobbying, public relations and legal expenditures.
The way to make this project work for the community, as Mr. Scott exhorts us, is to work within the flexibility afforded by the current site entitlements. It’s not only a viable alternative to the two presented, it’s the preferable one by creating a winning outcome for both the community and the developer. Rather than continue a campaign that polarizes the community into those for and against their current proposal, Kilroy should unite the community by collaborating with the planning board to expand its current entitlements as suggested. This would achieve a One Paseo with a scale and amenities that both retain and enhance the character of our community, but without sacrificing so much of the livability we currently enjoy. Both the community and its planning board would welcome this approach.
Robert Freund is a 30-year veteran of the commercial real estate industry, having previously served as a senior vice president of Colliers International and chief operating officer of Voit Real Estate Services. He can be reached at
858-792-2597 or firstname.lastname@example.org.