REGION — Opponents of a controversial mixed-use development in Carmel Valley were successful in their efforts to potentially overturn a 7-2 San Diego City Council vote approving the project.
The Registrar of Voters Office announced April 24 that valid signatures from at least 5 percent of registered voters had been gathered in a referendum campaign.
That means the project, One Paseo, will return to council members, who can either change their Feb. 23 decision or place the item on the ballot of the June 2016 primary election.
Developer Kilroy Realty Corporation is proposing to build an approximately 1.4 million-square-foot “neighborhood village” complex that will include 608 multifamily units, 200,000 square feet of retail space, 484,000 square feet of office space, a movie theater and more than 10 acres of open space.
Most critics say they support development on the 23.6-acre vacant lot on the corner of Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real, but not one that is three times bigger than what the property is zoned for, as is the case with One Paseo.
Opponents say the $750 million project will negatively impact traffic on already-congested nearby roadways, result in increased emergency response times and destroy the community character.
Supporters say One Paseo will provide much-needed housing and employment. Kilroy estimates it will result in 3,800 construction jobs, 1,590 permanent jobs, increased property values and approximately $1 million annually in new revenue to the city.
Kilroy officials said reducing the size of the project would make it difficult to attract businesses and residents.
The complex lies within City Council President Sherri Lightner’s district. She and Councilwoman Marti Emerald cast the two votes opposing the project.
Following the vote a group known as Protect San Diego’s Neighborhoods began gathering signatures to force a referendum.
By the March 25 deadline a petition was submitted with 61,301 signatures. The Registrar of Voters Office deemed 51,796 to be valid, although only 33,224 were needed.
“It was pretty much a landslide in terms of what was generated for support,” Jeff Powers, spokesman for Protect San Diego’s Neighborhoods, said.
In a separate campaign, Kilroy submitted a petition with signatures from approximately 30,000 people requesting to have their names removed from the referendum petition.
Only about 10 percent of those were deemed valid, mainly because many who signed the Kilroy petition had not signed the one circulated by Protect San Diego’s Neighborhoods.
Two lawsuits were filed against Kilroy in early April, challenging the environmental impact report, claiming One Paseo’s environmental documents are flawed and inconsistent.
City Council is slated to make a decision on the project at its May 18 meeting.
“San Diego has a really important decision in front of it,” Powers said. “From the beginning it’s been about protecting San Diego’s neighborhoods. We are extremely proud to see our message resonate with so many San Diegans supporting our referendum drive.”
Powers said representatives from his group have been attending planning group meetings throughout the city asking for resolutions of support.
So far eight have agreed, including those in Torrey Hills, Del Mar Mesa, Serra Mesa, University City, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Torrey Pines and Greater Golden Hill. Powers said La Jolla is next on the list.
“Kilroy worked constructively with Carmel Valley community members for nearly seven years to refine One Paseo, ultimately earning the support of a bipartisan supermajority of the City Council,” Rachel Laing, Kilroy’s spokeswoman, wrote in a statement. “We’re disappointed the project now faces further delay resulting from a campaign of misinformation paid for by an Orange County-based corporation bent on smothering competition.”
Kilroy claims its major opponent is the owner of Del Mar Highlands Shopping Center, immediately east of One Paseo across El Camino Real.
Laing said Kilroy will encourage council members to let voters decide the fate of the project.
“The facts are on our side,” she said. “Once San Diegans learn the facts they will support One Paseo. We plan to work hard for the next two years to educate voters about the economic and environmental benefits of the project.”