One Paseo: It’s time for our leaders to lead

Bob Freund

Carmel Valley

I am gratified by the increasing numbers of my neighbors who are questioning why Kilroy should be allowed to nearly quadruple the development of One Paseo. To us it appears that the developer’s ability to purchase both a set of favorable “expert” recommendations, and a lobbyist to persuade her former Development Services colleagues to accept them are successfully influencing the city process. It’s time for our elected leaders to measure this groundswell of community opposition and act on it before the approval process is further abused.

The issue is not whether the by-products of this massive expansion can or can’t be successfully mitigated. The real issue is if the future character our community is to be determined by the profit motives of this single deep-pocketed property owner and the influence of his “hired guns,” or if it is to be determined by the rights the rest of us secured when we purchased our properties. What rights are those? Quite simply that the Community Plan entitlements of still vacant parcels would remain in force, ensuring that the scale and character of future development in Carmel Valley would match the scale of our existing community.

When the developer purchased this property, the allowed build-out was well understood. But instead of working within that scale, he chose to mount a campaign to nearly quadruple its size, to “hit a homerun.” His community outreach effort of expensive brochures and renderings emphasized idyllic community walkways, shopping and gathering areas. But where are the renderings of the high-rise towers? Where’s the three-dimensional model illustrating how these massive buildings will stand out from their surroundings like Gulliver in Lilliput? Where’s the explanation of why our community’s town center requires greater parking and traffic-handling capacity than the third largest Convention Center in California?

Our elected community leaders — the Carmel Valley Community Planning Group and Councilwoman Sherri Lightner — seem content to take the “politically correct” stance of waiting until the developer deigns to submit studies which should have been (and likely were) completed long ago. And while they delay acting, One Paseo’s lobbyists and consultants are hard at work behind the scenes manipulating and re-casting the very rights and protections we as residents — not driven by profit motive, but by quality of life — relied on when we purchased our properties.

Leadership is not about slavish allegiance to process; it’s about getting out in front preserving the vision and protecting the rights of those you purport to serve. I call on our Community Planning Group and Councilwoman Lightner — acting as mediators, not partisans — to organize a series of community forums to measure first-hand the depth and breadth of opposition to the proposed scale of this project. Then, acting as leaders, bring the developer to the table now to negotiate whatever reduction in project scope toward the originally approved build-out the majority of our community expresses.

Once again, the real issue is rights: the developer has the right to build and profit from 500,000 square feet, no more; the rest of our community’s property owners have the right to preserve its character and livability, no less. The longer our leaders delay their efforts to preserve our rights, the more momentum the development’s proposed expansion gains and the more we the residents are assured of losing those rights.