I was excited to read that Trader Joe’s has pulled out of the One Paseo project, and will open in The Village at Pacific Highlands. Residents of Pacific Highlands Ranch have long yearned for shopping options closer to their home, and now they are lucky to be getting what they want.
One Paseo has long claimed that it is giving Carmel Valley “the Main Street it really wants!” But its ads bear little resemblance to reality, just like Kilroy’s slick presentations at Carmel Valley Planning Board (CVPB) meetings. Indeed, in speaking to residents in the neighborhood closest to the project site (my own neighborhood of Alta Mar and other developments north across Del Mar Heights Rd.), I have not found a single supporter of the gargantuan mixed-use project (complete with office complex and UTC-style multistory condos). Many neighbors, distracted by the buzz about a possible Trader Joe’s, did not realize that the proposed project (even at its “reduced” size) would be nearly five times the size of the Del Mar Highlands Shopping Center. Many were misled by the ads One Paseo ran showing families holding hands as they played in a green space. They had no idea that the green spaces would be little lawns surrounded by multistory office buildings, more dense than UTC.
As we have learned more, we have been especially alarmed about the traffic impacts that the project will have in Carmel Valley. While Kilroy has pledged to build a signal-synchronizing traffic mitigation system, it is modeled after one in San Marcos which does not actually work when there is traffic. We are also disgusted by a plan to “mitigate” traffic by having two northbound left-turn lanes at High Bluff. This dangerous idea will dump would-be speeders off of Del Mar Heights Road, into our neighborhood, and in front of Solana Highlands Elementary School.
When One Paseo reps gave their presentation at the Aug. 8 CVPB meeting, they acted as if the staunch opposition to their project did not exist. Admitting that traffic would be slowed dramatically, but wanting to spin it positively, Kilroy’s team showed drawings of beautiful trees that would be planted on Del Mar Heights Rd. to improve “the experience of the driver.” They noted that currently we try to get “from Point A to Point B” as fast as we can in Carmel Valley, but that the trees would help us to slow down and enjoy the scenery! They also showed pictures of little green spaces they would put on the outside of One Paseo, and made fanciful analogies with the Champs Elysées and the boulevards of Barcelona. Some at the meeting commented that no one will use these “micro-parks,” while others said that it was the height of ridiculousness to pretend that One Paseo will turn Del Mar Heights Rd. into a Parisian boulevard. It is no wonder that so many people have been using the phrase “Lipstick on a Pig” to describe Kilroy’s approach.
I have encouraged my neighbors to go to CVPB meetings, educate themselves and voice their opinions. But they have each returned home infuriated by the PR campaigns they have witnessed there. As one neighbor asked me after the meeting, “Does Kilroy really believe that Carmel Valley residents are that stupid?”
Alyssa Sepinwall, Carmel Valley