One Paseo violates the law of the land

By Dave Roberts

I am not against development. I am against over-development. That’s why my vote on the currently-proposed One Paseo project, if I had one, would be a No.

But as a county supervisor representing much of the north coast, I have no authority over plans to intensely develop 23 acres in the heart of Carmel Valley. This is for the San Diego City Council to decide.

And though there is much to like about a project with anchor tenants that appeal to families, it is way too big. For that reason, I joined hundreds of residents in opposition at a planning board meeting last week.

As I noted in my testimony to the Carmel Valley Community Planning Group, One Paseo snubs the law of the land. San Diego Mayor Bob Filner agreed. It’s about the zoning.

Zoning laws are the result of careful planning – a balance of residential and commercial needs and the ability of public infrastructure to support them. I want to defend quality of life in my district. That’s what zoning does.

How lopsided is One Paseo? Just look at the numbers.

Current zoning (the law of the land) allows for 500,000 square feet of building space at the One Paseo site at the southwest corner of Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real. Kilroy Realty, the project’s developer, has proposed a 1.4 million-square-foot project. That’s a 180 percent increase.

Imagine if a homeowner came forward with plans to triple the allowable size of his or her house. Planning authorities would show the applicant the door and neighbors, in all likelihood, would reach for the tar and feathers.

But that’s what Kilroy is asking for: approval of a project that’s nearly three times bigger than San Diego’s zoning law allows.

The developer’s representatives will point to reductions made from earlier submittals, but those reductions were from their original proposal to quadruple the allowable square footage. Neither proposal mitigates an inevitable crush of traffic on Del Mar Heights Road. Studies show delays to reach Interstate 5 would be significant and unmitigable.

What will that traffic jam mean for daily commutes to work and school and what will it mean to emergency response times? Significant and unmitigable impacts.

The developer is selling One Paseo as a walkable community. Maybe, but most people would still need a car to get there. Public transit service for Carmel Valley is more than a decade away.

The sheer size of the proposal has inflamed many residents. Last week’s meeting drew an overflow crowd to the Canyon Crest Academy auditorium. After nearly two hours of testimony, the planning board continued its meeting until Feb. 28 for board deliberations and an advisory vote.

Clearly, residents want a project they can live with – and also live, work and play in. So there must be a compromise out there. The first tracts in Carmel Valley were built 30 years ago. At the time, the community was known as North City West. Today, Carmel Valley has established an identity of its own and, as it should be, is protective of its zoning.

That’s why I am joining opponents of the currently-proposed One Paseo project and am calling for the city of San Diego to uphold the law of the land. Let’s find a project that improves our quality of life in Carmel Valley.

— Dave Roberts represents the Third District on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.