Construction finally begins to improve Torrey Hills lot in Carmel Valley


After six years, the dirt has finally begun to move on a long-vacant lot in Torrey Hills.

Construction started July 13 on a long-awaited, much-delayed, several-times-revised landscape enhancement project for the dusty lot under the power lines at the crest of East Ocean Air Drive.

Torrey Hills Community Planning Board member Brad Fagan has been on somewhat of a personal odyssey trying to get something accomplished on the site, after residents from a row of homes on Corte Mar Asombrosa, directly facing the lot, asked the Torrey Hills Homeowners Association whether anything could be done to fix the unsightly property.

The request launched a drawn-out process that saw the city’s price tag soar to $450,000 for a simple enhancement project on less than a quarter-acre, because of “soft costs” like consultant work, a site development permit and an environmental process.

The Torrey Hills Community Planning Board pulled the plug on the project and refused to let the city use the entire amount available in the Torrey Hills maintenance assessment district budget.

In November 2014, the board was finally able to approve a whittled-down project that included native plant restoration, temporary irrigation and some decomposed granite cover at a cost of $60,000. It won’t be the trees, boulders, benches and shade structures sought in the original proposal, but finally a “neighborhood blight” will be improved.

“Six years of effort are finally coming to fruition. I’m so happy,” said Torrey Hills Planning Board Chair Kathryn Burton. “It’s going to be a great amenity for this neighborhood, as this lot has become a bit of an eyesore, and this will help soften that.”

“We will finally get rid of the weeds and make the lot look presentable,” said Fagan, who said that as an HOA representative, the goal is always to help keep property values high, and the dirt lot was doing nothing to help neighboring homeowners.

Over the years the project has gone by many names, from a greenbelt to an enhancement project to “The Never Being Built Park,” as coined by board member Mark Lee.

On Monday, July 13, Fagan pitched a new name for the board to call the project: Torrey Hills View Park, referring to the lot’s views out to the ocean and across Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve on the edge.

Without delay, Burton approved of the new name.