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San Diego City Council Approves One Paseo Development

Photo by Katie Schoolov

The site of the proposed One Paseo development in Carmel Valley, Jan. 9, 2015.

A 23.6-acre mixed-use development proposed for Carmel Valley was debated by supporters and opponents before the San Diego City Council on Monday.

The San Diego City Council Monday night tentatively approved a 23.6-acre mixed-use housing, retail and office project in Carmel Valley following several hours of testimony from hundreds of opponents and supporters and a few slight modifications.

The $750 million One Paseo development would encompass nearly 1.5 million square feet of floor space, including more than 600 units of homes, shops and offices south of Del Mar Heights Road, between El Camino Real and High Bluff Drive.

The project by Kilroy Realty would be composed of 10 buildings ranging from two to nine stories, and would include a movie theater, landscaping and nearly 3,700 parking spaces.

The council's 7-2 vote in favor of the project included requiring the developer to deem about 60 residences affordable housing and to add adaptive traffic control system at nearby intersections.

Around 400 people, including some current and former elected officials, attended Monday's council meeting to speak about the proposed development, for which plans have been in the works for several years.

Opponents, who created a website at whatpricemainstreet.com, contended the development would destroy the affluent neighborhood in northwest San Diego. Their concerns centered on increased traffic in an already congested area that may hamper emergency response times.

Many said they could accept a scaled-down project, at around 60 percent of the proposed floor space.

"The size and scale are not appropriate for Carmel Valley," said Nancy Novak, a 28-year resident of the area. "The environmental impacts are significant and unavoidable, and there is no feasible mitigation."

Former City Council President Tony Young said the opinions of those who live in and represent the area, such as planning and community group members, should be considered seriously because they would be the ones affected by the project on a day-to-day basis.

"If there's any doubt, vote with the neighborhood. Vote with the community," he said. "They understand the impacts far better than any of us."

Photo credit: Kilroy Realty

An artist's rendering of an office tower in the proposed One Paseo project in Carmel Valley shows how it would be built on a lower-lying area on the east side of the property.

Marcela Escobar-Eck, a land use consultant for the developer, said floor space has already been reduced from 1.8 million square feet, and the height of the tallest buildings were lowered by 10 percent. The design also includes nearly 11 acres of open space, including a town green, pocket parks and walking paths.

"The project before you today is the product of six years of community engagement, which resulted in considerable refinements to get to the right balance of uses that will enhance the community life and deliver much-needed middle-class housing near the major job centers in the northern part of the city," Escobar-Eck said.

Photo credit: Kilroy Realty

An artist's rendering shows One Paseo West Plaza, part of a proposed development in Carmel Valley, February 2015.

Supporters said the development fits in with the "City of Villages" land use concept approved by the City Council several years ago to guide so- called "urban in-fill" projects.

Brian Brady, senior project manager for Kilroy Realty and a Carmel Valley Planning Board member, said there was overwhelming support for One Paseo and misnomers regarding traffic, scale and land use issues were "thrown out there" with no reasoning behind them.

In a scathing response following the approximately six hours of public testimony and council debate, City Council President Sherri Lightner said the project would "dramatically alter the character of the neighborhood" and would cause "horrendous and unmitigable traffic impacts."

"Carmel Valley is a very well planned community that has all the main amenities laid out in a thoughtful way and is very pedestrian and bicycle friendly," she said.

"By creating a brand new zone specifically tailored to this proposed project the city would be using spot zoning to shoehorn a project that is three times too big onto this site."

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf said One Paseo would bring more affordable housing for the middle class and residents would benefit from the retail and office areas.

"We need places for our teachers, our police officers, our military families, where they can afford something without sinking half their income into a place and also not have to work two jobs," Zapf said.

The council's vote covered a series of actions including certifying an environmental impact report, adopting amendments to the city's general plan and the neighborhood's community plan, rezoning the land and approving permits.

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