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Del Mar responds again to One Paseo

DEL MAR — In response to a recirculated environmental impact report for a proposed project in Carmel Valley, Del Mar officials reiterated the concerns included in their first comment letter, but strengthened their position on a need to address public transit as an option and the project’s divergence from the community plan. 

“This is an incredible change from the community plan,” Councilman Terry Sinnott said. “If the city (of San Diego) does not conform to the community plan, it’s going to have sizable impact. … We’re still very much concerned about the change from the basic community plan that the voters … approved.”

When the original EIR for One Paseo was released in June 2012, the city sent “an extensive comment letter,” Planning Director Kathy Garcia said, to address concerns the community had about the project, a controversial “neighborhood village” that would include retail, residential, office and open space on an approximately 24-acre lot on the southwest corner of Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real.

At the time the city requested the developer, Kilroy Realty Corporation, consider other alternatives. The city of San Diego, in whose jurisdiction the project is located, made a similar request and a new EIR with three alternatives was released for a public comment period, which ended Dec. 10.

The original proposal called for about 1.8 million gross square feet of development with retail and office buildings, a 150-room hotel and more than 600 multifamily residential units.

It featured public open spaces, internal roadways and parking structures. Some buildings were proposed to be 10 stories high.

New options are a 1.4 million-square-foot project with no hotel and smaller dwelling units and commercial spaces; an 817,000-square-foot project with no hotel, fewer dwelling units and reduced office and retail space; and 80,000 square feet of development that includes a 30,000-square-foot market and 50,000 square feet for retail.

Kilroy favors the largest option because it is the only one that maintains the goal of creating “a Main Street in Carmel Valley.”

In the letter approved at the Dec. 9 meeting, Del Mar officials restate their concerns, which are mainly traffic, visual effects and public safety.

“Although the alternatives presented show some reduction based on the original plan, they still are resulting in the same significant impacts to the roadways and intersections that we identified in the original EIR letter,” Garcia said.

While there are “minor reductions in height and intensity of use,” Garcia said, “we do not feel that this has really fully looked at an alternative that would reduce the bulk and scale to be compatible with the neighborhood as well as reduce the traffic impacts.”

The other main issue is with emergency responders. First responders for the project area would come from Station 24 in San Diego. If responders from that station aren’t available, Station 1 – the only station in Del Mar – becomes the backup.

“At that point our agreements disregard city boundaries and we would be the fire station responding,” Garcia said, noting a concern about how that would impact responses in Del Mar as well as the impact of traffic on response times.

County Supervisor Dave Roberts said he supports the Del Mar comments.

“I always appreciate the insights and the common-sense thinking of the Del Mar City Council,” Roberts said at the Dec. 9 meeting. “I have read your letter. I agree with it.

“This affects the entire region,” Roberts added. “I am so concerned about this because it is a public safety issue. It’s a health issue. It’s a congestion issue. It’s a property value issue. … I have said as strongly as I can that another alternative needs to be found.

“Decisions that are made by applicants to develop property sometimes overlook the health implications,” he added. “By plopping down a project that is three or more times zoning into a neighborhood, that overwhelms everything.

“This project might be a great project somewhere else,” Roberts said. “But unfortunately it does not fit that neighborhood. And because it doesn’t fit that neighborhood it impacts everybody. … I think you’re on the right track.”

“We need to keep monitoring this issue and be diligent every stop of the way,” Councilwoman Sherryl Parks said.