One Paseo public relations campaign filled with half-truths

Bob Fuchs

Carmel Valley resident and former long-term office tenant in the High Bluff corridor

I want to thank this newspaper for identifying the One Paseo/Main Street project as one of the most important issues confronting Carmel Valley in 2012 and for enabling, through its Letters to the Editor, a print media forum for civil discourse regarding the pros and cons of the project. This forum reaches many residents not comfortable with digital forms of media and has significantly raised awareness within the community of some of the project’s issues.

Unfortunately, as I learned when my most recent letter did not appear in the two weeks following its submission due to its length, the paper is limited by space [on the opinion page] in covering complex issues in depth. Thus, many people’s understanding of the proposed project is largely defined by colorful brochures and web sites, vague promises, and misleading half-truths coordinated by the developer’s expensive PR campaign. The developer has largely taken control of the information process, allowing only what it wants to reach public eyes, deferring all other requests for reasonable factual information, saying, in effect, “Trust me, all will be revealed to your satisfaction when the Draft Environmental Impact Report is released by the City.”

With just a small space allotment, let me address just one of the many misleading half-truths utilized by the developer. The developer and its supporters claim that it will spend “millions of dollars addressing existing traffic problems” in the community. Note the clever language of saying “addressing,” not “solving” the problems, and “existing traffic problems,” not new traffic problems caused by One Paseo, and implying that the act of spending millions of dollars would take care of everything.

At one of Kilroy’s recent informational meetings, I heard a representative say the developer might install at its expense an adaptive traffic control system such as the “QuicTrac” system recently installed along San Marcos Blvd. He mentioned a study that, among other things, reported dramatic results of up to 46 percent reduced traffic delay after the system was installed. I was amazed that such a result was possible, and wondered why, if it was really this good, it was not being used in every city in the country.

I decided to visit with San Marcos traffic engineers, who revealed that the 46 percent reduction in traffic delay was for eastbound noon traffic, and was accompanied by a 32 percent increase in traffic delay in the opposite direction. There was a 47 percent increase in westbound AM peak traffic delay. Further, traffic delay (defined as the amount of time a vehicle was stopped or moving less than 5 MPH going between two points along San Marcos Blvd.) was not considered to be a particularly important metric—total travel time was. The study showed the total travel time in various time periods showed a maximum reduction of 13 percent and a maximum increase of 4 percent.

San Marcos traffic engineers concluded that the adaptive traffic control system was reasonably effective during non-peak periods, but made relatively little difference when traffic approached road capacity. They stated their biggest problem — just like it would likely be on Del Mar Heights Rd. — was that freeway ramp metering is timed to keep traffic moving on the freeway, not to accommodate traffic backing up on arterial roads intersecting the freeway.

I find the developer’s statement to be a misleading half-truth to try to allay the concern in the community about traffic coming from the proposed One Paseo project.

To see examples of other such misleading half-truths, please visit the “Truth in Advertising” page at

www.WhatPriceMainStreet.com

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