New development projects a possibility for vacant land parcels in east Carmel Valley

By Joe Tash

New development projects could be in the works for two vacant parcels of land south of State Route 56 at Camino Del Sur.

Kilroy Realty Corp. — the developer of the One Paseo project on Del Mar Heights Road/El Camino Real — is interested in an 11-acre parcel on the west side of Camino Del Sur for an office building or other employment-related facility.

Sea Breeze Properties, Inc. is proposing a mixed-use development, including shops, offices and homes for a 42-acre parcel east of Camino Del Sur, and also south of SR 56.

Both projects would require amendments to the Torrey Highlands Subarea Plan. On Thursday, Sept. 19, the San Diego Planning Commission voted 6-0 to allow both developers to pursue their projects by submitting more detailed plans.

On Sept. 4, the Rancho Penasquitos Community Planning Group also voted to allow the two projects to move forward.

The votes by the two panels don’t constitute approval of the projects. According to a city staff report, the city of San Diego is one of few jurisdictions that require either Planning Commission or City Council initiation before the plan amendment process and accompanying project can proceed.

“I’m very curious as to what they’re going to propose as projects,” said Thom Clark, chairman of the Rancho Penasquitos Community Planning Board. “This (community plan amendment) initiation is just the starting line.”

In the case of the Kilroy proposal, the 11-acre parcel is surrounded on three sides by open space — Deer Canyon to the north, and the Del Mar Mesa Preserve to the south and west. The property is currently designated as “commercial limited,” which would allow such uses as religious facilities, trade schools, storage, veterinary clinics, nurseries and garden centers, according to the city report.

In 2004, the city approved a project by the Catholic Diocese of San Diego — the property’s owner — to build a church campus, including a worship center and school. According to the city report, the diocese decided not to build the project, and the permit has expired.

Kilroy has applied to change the designation to “employment center,” which would allow such uses as scientific research, corporate headquarters, research and development, light industrial/manufacturing, light warehousing and professional and corporate offices. A hotel of up to 150 rooms would also be allowed, according to the staff report.

Clark said a proposed project on the site would have to address potential impacts on the neighboring preserve lands, as well as traffic and density issues.

Steve Scott, senior vice president with Kilroy, said his company has not yet developed specific plans for the project, but that it would be compatible with other land held by the company in the same area, which has either been developed or approved for office buildings.

The company has worked well with the community on other projects and expects to do so for this parcel, Scott said. “Absolutely, we’re very confident we’ll be to create a plan that addresses the various stakeholders’ interests.”

Clark said his planning group does have concerns about both proposals’ compatibility with the existing community plan.

Gary Levitt, president of Sea Breeze Properties, said his company has purchased the commercial portion of a previously approved residential development called Rhodes Crossing.

As approved, the project includes apartments, a shopping center and self-storage units. Levitt, who also serves as chairman of the Del Mar Mesa Community Planning Board, said Sea Breeze wants to eliminate the self-storage facility and create a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly project.

“We are going to work with the community to come up with plans for the property, much more of a mixed-use urban feeling, rather than a big-box shopping center,” Levitt said.

The project would include shops, retail, some office and residential units, Levitt said, and his company hopes to break ground in early 2015.

The community plan amendment initiated by Sea Breeze would change the designation on the land from a combination of commercial regional and medium-high density residential to local mixed-use, according to the city staff report.

Local mixed-use allows a “variety of neighborhood-serving commercial, employment, civic and residential uses in a mixed-use environment,” said the staff report.

No dates have been set for further hearings on either project. Both projects must go before local planning boards, the city Planning Commission and ultimately, the San Diego City Council, for approval.