We need to avoid mistakes made in the past

It’s happening again.

Back in 1975 when North City West was developed (remember North City West?), a Community Plan was developed. That plan is still available today, relabeled for Carmel Valley. It is superseded by Precise Plans for the different neighborhoods within Carmel Valley.

The original plan is beautiful, beyond what any environmentalist could hope for today. It describes a town center to serve the entire community, as well as neighboring Del Mar Heights. (So far so good; Ralphs Shopping Center, or Del Mar Highlands Town Center, right?) Additionally the plan shows four small neighborhood centers for local neighborhood shopping. (They didn’t happen.) And, best of all, the plan called for a transportation system! Collector streets were to serve the various neighborhoods, with separate systems for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. On these streets would be an intra-community bus system connecting with the transit systems operating on major streets and on the freeways beyond. This was all in recognition that community development previously (this is 1975, remember) had resulted in almost total reliance on the automobile and, guess what, congestion!

Well this idealistic plan was not implemented except for the shopping center we all know and love, even though we can find no parking there.

Now Kilroy Development Corporation wants to provide us with a pedestrian-oriented, walkable community in the heart of Carmel Valley. To do so, they are required to change the Community and Precise Plans again because the existing plans calls for offices only on their site. Kilroy has it all worked out: the additional traffic allowing us all to visit One Paseo, this island of walkability among high-end shops, would be taken care of by “traffic impact mitigations.” These mitigations consist of such things as extra turn lanes and traffic lights on Del Mar Heights Road – the price we must pay to avoid more gridlock.

Of course the community at large, Carmel Valley, will not become more pedestrian or bicycle oriented; rather the reverse. The traffic nightmare that is Del Mar Heights Road already will not worsen, say the engineers — traffic will flow, they say. But they don’t deny there will be more traffic and they make no provisions for pedestrians or cyclists and they sacrifice trees and medians.

The engineers make their claims based on formulae and assumptions that none of us could hope to fathom. Intuitively we can’t help thinking that the flow of traffic will get worse, and will spread into Del Mar Heights, the City of Del Mar, and even Solana Beach as drivers try to avoid the gridlock.

Have we not learned that catering to automobile traffic just encourages more automobile travel? Can we keep the remnants of a good plan and avoid mistakes made in the past?

Diana Scheffler

Torrey Pines Community resident