One Paseo Project In Carmel Valley Gets Its Public Hearing Monday
Our top story on Midday Edition. The hotly debated one Paseo project goes before the San Diego City Council next week what may be the final up or down vote. The project on an undeveloped 23-acre lot on the corner of Delmar Heights Road and El Camino real is Sprint and meeting mixed-use development to Carmel Valley. One Paseo has been on the drawing board for years. The subject of planned board meetings and public hearings. The size and spoke of the project has been changed and it is still generating opposition. Joining the art Rachel Lange, spokesperson for for Kilroy Realty, developer of the one Paseo project. Rachel, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. What price MainStreet a group of community members opposed to the one Paseo planned. Welcome welcome to the show. Thank you. Rachel there have been several versions of the project under public discussion what are the details of the version the City Council will consider on Monday? Monday the Council will consider a mixed use development with homes about 600 units. Homes, retail, MainStreet style retail with offices and apartments above and a couple of office buildings. Your changed the project sequentially as it has gone through the planning process. Is this version smaller than any one before? Oh, a whole lot smaller. About 30% smaller than the original vision was on 2.1 million square feet. This is one point 4,000,000 ft.² square feet so a lot smaller and the building heights have been lowered as well. Another thing they are lower than they used to be. Right. Okay. How much is this project going to cost, Rachel? This is about a $650 million investment in San Diego. How much is Kilroy projecting it will make on one Paseo? It doesn't really work that way what Kilmer he does is owns and operates the projects that they build. For instance, almost all of the office buildings you see around Carmel Valley are going and operated by Kilroy Realty that is when they have such a huge investment in that area their own headquarters is there too so it's not really are they going to build it and sell it, obviously it will raise the property value tremendously of that vacant lot. $1 billion potential, does that sound reasonable? I suppose so, yes. Tran01, Kilroy his Mideast changes these changes to the original puzzle as Rachael said the density of the project has been downed by a third the office buildings, height of them have been lowered by 25%. Why isn't that enough to change her mind about the project? Well it doesn't really matter that the developer put in a proposal for a massively oversized project and then reduced it by 30%. It's still about how much increase they are getting it is about how much bigger it is it is three times as big as what's allowed on the property. It's got four times the traffic. It just doesn't fit in the community and it's going to overrun our local streets and parks and schools. There you originally, when you first heard about this project, you supported it. Why did that change? I think it changed because I learned about the project. I was in the original meetings. I was one of two community members in the original meetings with Kilroy and they came to us, the planning board, I was on the planning board at the time, and asked us very limited question they asked us would mixed-use BOK on this site? My vision of mixed-use is very different apparently than their vision of mixed-use. I imagined something like the upgraded stuff and old Encinitas with some retail on the ground floor, a couple of stories of residential above that and when I started seeing what it was the size and scale of it the fact that it is really something that should be an urban shopping mall with 80 story or 80-foot tall buildings along the main street and it is down to 150-foot tall office buildings it just seemed unreasonable to force this upon the community. Rachel, one of of the big sticking problems has been all through the discussion about this, Ken I will ask you about this too, is increased traffic. How is this community going to be affected by the increased traffic brought about by this high density multiuse development? Tell us what Kilroy envisions? How the traffic will actually impact the community? Sure. One of the things that happens with mixed-use now the space is in title IV a couple 150-foot tall office buildings we could build office buildings instead we are building somewhere where it is a walkable likable community where people will live, walks to get what they need on a daily basis, grocery stores, shopping options, office or they can go straight to restaurants without having to get into a car. Mixed use spreads trips that do occur. You have residential folks who work elsewhere leaving, we have office coming so you are spreading the traffic out instead of having office buildings where you have all of it coming in at the same time you spread those trips throughout the day and of course retail comes in at a completely different time than either home or office uses. That is one thing mixed-use spreads traffic throughout the day. Secondly we are installing at our own cost a state-of-the-art system well beyond any of our required almost $4 million project which will help change all of the signals throughout all of Carmel Valley, 40 intersections, to be to be aligned so that they are responsive to actual traffic. A state-of-the-art system the most modern in the entire state probably. That keep traffic smooth, running more smoothly. When you are reducing the number of stops the people have to deal with as they are going along because the traffic is bad, you actually improve the travel times and you improve the experience of driving when you are driving. Now the opposition, the project is inspected to increase traffic by 23,000 car trips the date you agree with that, Rachel? That is the number in the ER air, that is correct. Kilroy says they will be spaced out and there's this high tech way of managing the traffic so it will the impact the community as much as that 23,000 sounds. That's right. Remember this is an going to be a pumpkin patch of this project does not go through there will be an office building there will be a lot of extra cars on the road. This option we are actually providing a shuttle service for people to go to the Xhosa people who lived there they want to go to the coaster it will take them every single day they can ride their bike or complete bike routes too they can use to take to the coaster. We are trying to increase their options in so many ways that we would actually believe it would be a boon for anybody driving in Carmel Valley. Ken what you think of this increased traffic up 23,000 car trips a day. How do you envision this? We envision it as gridlock in the community. They are widening of 1600-foot stretch of road to nine or 10 lanes, 130 feet wide but on the other end it's only four lanes and any other direction and other shopping center. It just seems like it's not going to work. That's not true -- Everything is true. If you look at their synchronization system they are talking about 40 signals , it's like if you look in the environment report if you look at what the city is going to approve it talks about a 2-mile stretch of Delmar height road there might be 20 signals. I would love to know what the difference there is. And also if you look at the environmental report and the traffic reports we have always complained that the numbers were right. They don't have all the traffic reported for their development, they don't have all the traffic reported for the surrounding areas. If you look at the environmental report and dig into the details of says 28,000 troops and Kilroy took that new number and went back and reviewed it and said oh the traffic is going to be even better than we thought because you are adding so many cars. Okay let me, Rachel you were saying something Ken was saying was not true? There are a number of things. The so-called nine lanes there is a turning lane added that sneaker lane to avoid the bike lane is not another link it is just a turned pocket and it mirrors exactly the length and width of number of lanes across the street where the Delmar Highlands town center is so that is not true. Secondly, the EIR numbers these are the city's numbers, the city city's standard uses , some of your own folks who you claim as the traffic engineers sit on the standards board that develop the numbers, these formulas. The formulas are correct, they are what they are and the EIR does not take into account any of the traffic signal optimization that we are doing. I want to step back from this back-and-forth a little bit and pose a question to you that was brought up by KPBS reporter Allison St. John in a report she did on the One Paseo project today. A sort of reveals a conundrum about this type of development in an area like Carmel Valley. She revealed that critics oppose the high density plan because it's too car centric but city leaders say public transit can't be built to areas and less their density increases. So, tran01, you say when you first heard about this you thought it was going to be much, much smaller, much smaller but the idea is to build a high density area in this area so that public transportation can be brought to it what do you think of that? And realize you're talking about adding more housing to the area so there are more people who can use public transportation. If you look at the history of Carmel Valley it was originally supposed to be a couple of thousand people and so the community plan adopted in 1975 increased that to something like 50,000 people That old plan included like five different transit routes and how has that worked out? The County tried to implement one of those bus routes one out of five and it wasn't used so the idea that's okay we put in 50,000 people and it's not enough, will now you are adding 600 houses and that's going to make it enough? I just don't see this being the case. What is your reaction to that sort of conundrum, Rachel? Exactly the problem the chicken and egg problem and it was cited by planning commissioners as an actual reason to improve it if you have people in a more concentrated area and to give them the option of transit and by the way they're used to be a bust line that went right by there, the discontinued of it for lack of use. Of course if you have the mixed-use project and people who want to live in a walkable community now have the option of a bus I believe it will bring the best back. Ken I want to ask you about the company that owns Delmar town high center of the shopping center right across the street from the proposed One Paseo they have reportedly spent over $1 million to oppose the project. Where they against One Paseo? I mean there against the project for the same basic reasons that we are which is that too much traffic, too high buildings, too much density is not appropriate in the community. Competition part of that opposition? I don't know it's certainly not our reason I mean look at Kilroy wants to build an all shopping Center as long as he keeps the traffic within reasonable bounds was a 10,000 to 12,000 trips let them build it they say we are controlled by the town center. Kilroy has always accused us of being controlled by the town center, they are trying to marginalize the competition or the opposition. In the last year they've spent like $1 million a month on this project. They spent $60 million plus dollars since they purchased the property on this project. It's very hard for us to compete as a community group so we partnered with the town center. We don't agree with them on everything, we've partnered with them to get our message out. We have similar interests. We are worried about traffic, we are worried about the ability to get in and out of the community. So, Rachel has Kilroy spent $7 million? It's amazing his comparing the 1.5 build or spent oppose this project that's been spent by 2010 by Donahue Schreiber all they've been doing is trying to knock something down we are making a $650 million investment of course architecture, engineers, sustainability, traffic, traffic, traffic, traffic expert, of course we've spent a tremendous amount of money on a $650 million $50 million investment. We are talking about comparatively we have spent $1.6 million on lobbying their site has spent $1.5 million on lobbying and all the are trying to do is tear something down the we are actually trying to build something and invest and bring San Diego some of the 12,000 homes per year that they need to meet demand. Again we don't want to kill this project , we just want an appropriate project for the community spent but then you've done or done anything productive make that happen. Would you like us to design a project for you? It's stupid for us to design a project for you are supposed to design an appropriate to -- appropriate alternative for the community. Let me ask you question Rachel is it possible for Carrie to make the smaller at this point? The folks who have worked productively with us of had a huge impact and really want to make it work have had a major impact on how it's designed and the size and it has been reduced a a tremendous amount but mixed-use has a critical mass that you need. In order to get people out of their cars in order to attract the value of the quality of tenant you have to have a certain concentration and that is why we have gotten it to the size where his basically reached an inflection point. You can't get any smaller and still have the kind of activity that you need. Let me ask you Ken the opponents of One Paseo what are you planning to tell City Council next week? We are planning to tell the City Council that we support developments. We help 6000+ members and from the local communities, 6000 plus members. We are not against this we are for something that fits within the community. We are looking for a project that is scaled a popular. Kilroy's on critical mass study they talk about meeting all this density says they could have a much smaller project, it just needs to be in a high traffic area which it is in it is to have other uses which it does. We are going to have to edit their I've been speaking with Rachel Lenk spoke person for Kilroy Realty the developer of One Paseo project and Ken with what price MainStreet thank you both very much. Thank you. Thank you.
It’s easy to see why the site for the $650 million One Paseo project is a developer’s dream: It’s an empty 23-acre field on Del Mar Heights Road, less than one mile east of Interstate 5 in affluent Carmel Valley.
If you look at artists’ renderings of what the project could become, you see broad boulevards with people out enjoying a pedestrian-friendly main street, with shops, a park and plenty of room for cyclists and outdoor cafes. The plan includes more than 700,000 square feet of retail and office space and 600 homes.
Developer John Kilroy has specialized in building high-end office space up and down the West Coast for the growing high-tech industry, but he said he's designed One Paseo as a mixed-use development because that’s what the community requested.
“After six years now, and tens of millions of dollars going through the process, we think that we’ve arrived at a terrific plan that’s going to be terrific for everybody,” Kilroy said.
Not everyone agrees, and that no doubt will be made clear Monday when the San Diego City Council holds a public hearing on the project.
Ken Farinsky said he was one of the first community members Kilroy approached with the idea of a mixed-use project.
“We were like, ‘Yes! The community would love a mixed-use project on this site.' I was one of the original proponents for One Paseo," Farinsky said.
But when he began to realize the scope of the project, he became one of the most vocal opponents as a spokesman for the opposition group, What Price Main Street?
“The main objection to this site is traffic,” Farinsky said. “They are generating 23,000 trips a day, which requires them to widen streets, to divert traffic by neighborhoods, by elementary schools. Kids will have to walk across nine lanes of traffic.”
He said a planned expansion of lanes on I-5 won’t happen until many of the children in elementary school have graduated, so the intersection at Del Mar Heights Road, which is already gridlocked when parents pick up kids, will only get worse.
“Kilroy is talking about building a shopping mall, a regional facility that attracts people from 10 miles away. So is attracting people from 10 miles away where you’re increasing traffic, is that smart growth?” Farinsky said.
One Paseo is car centric, and Kilroy acknowledges that. The developer said he is spending more than $6 million on traffic signals and improvements to intersections.
“Forty intersections in the greater Carmel Valley area, and then we’re doing about $3.8 million beyond that at our own election,” Kilroy said. “What this will have is the most modern traffic signal system in the country."
Kilroy said that with the investments he’s making in traffic-calming techniques, driving around Del Mar Heights will actually get easier rather than worse.
A conundrum for Carmel Valley is how to build more density without making traffic worse when there is so little public transit to serve the area. Mike Stepner, a former city of San Diego architect and planner, said buses and trains are not financially sustainable except in more densely populated cities.
“It’s always a chicken and egg thing,” Stepner said. “In the olden days, 100 years ago, you built the transit first and then development came."
Now, it’s the other way around, he said. You have to increase the density before public transit is sustainable.
Stepner started off skeptical of the One Paseo project, but then Kilroy engaged him as a consultant to help make the development more community friendly.
Now, Stepner points to changes the developer has made in the design, with pedestrian-friendly boulevards, bike lanes and more usable public spaces. He looks at the development in the context of the region’s overall need to handle a growing population.
“We are short in this region 330,000 housing units that we’re going to need over the next 25, 30 years,” Stepner said. “They’re proposing 600 units, which is a drop in the bucket, but it creates housing. It creates critical mass — and then if you have enough, it will bring transit.”
Kilroy also is planning to introduce a shuttle bus to the nearest Coaster station in Sorrento Valley.
Reaction From Neighboring Del Mar
But Del Mar City Councilman Don Mosier, who sits on the board of the San Diego Association of Governments, the county’s regional planning agency, said he’s seen no plans to bring more public transit to the area.
“I’ve seen the 2050 Regional Transportation Plan, and I don’t see any proposed solution for this area that will improve transit access,” Mosier said.
The Del Mar City Council has voted to oppose One Paseo, which sits just within the northern border of the city of San Diego.
“Frankly, when I hear the developer call this smart growth, this is the opposite of smart growth,” Mosier said. “It doesn’t conform to the community plan, and it has major negative impacts on the surrounding communities.“
Carmel Valley’s Community Plan for this area, created in the 1970s, allows for one-third of the office space in the One Paseo proposal.
How The Project Has Changed
Kilroy said he’s modified the plan as much as he can, most recently in response to objections from the San Diego Planning Commission last fall.
“We have addressed density,” Kilroy said. “The project that we proposed today is one-third less than we proposed originally. The height of the office buildings is roughly 25 percent reduced from what we originally proposed and 20 feet lower than what we proposed in October."
An office tower proposed in the project would now be 150 feet high rather than 170 feet and would be built on the lowest corner of the site, which reduces its high profile, he said.
“We can’t make it smaller than it is right now,” Kilroy said. “It just won’t work.“
Kilroy’s media consultant, Rachel Laing, points to lobbying from the existing shopping center across the road from the One Paseo site as the source of much of the opposition to the project. The Del Mar Heights Town Center has poured more than a million dollars in recent months into opposing the new development, according to a report in the Voice of San Diego.
Farinsky said some of the money paid for mailers sent by his group — What Price Main Street? — but that doesn’t detract from its grass-roots base.
“We have been getting funding from the Town Center. They are a member of our group,” Farinsky said. “But we represent more than 5,000 people in the community, so the idea we’re run by them is out there. More than 5,000 people agree that this project is too big.”
For him, the 150-foot office tower looks like something that should be in downtown San Diego's East Villagen, not in Carmel Valley.
“The project is so over the top that they can reduce it by a third and it is still too big,” Farinsky said. “We’re not NIMBYS. People are for a mixed-use project on this site. We are pro-development. We’re just against this massive over-development.”
Ironically, the lack of public transit is also one of the reasons the developer argues it is not feasible to reduce the size of the buildings. To keep open space for public amenities, all the vehicle parking is underground and, Kilroy said, one underground parking stall costs $40,000.
Stepner said One Paseo is trying to build more density without existing public transit, while creating the feel of the community town center that Carmel Valley needs.
“If it doesn’t work out financially to do improvements to the streets, to the public spaces, then you really have something that’s just another shopping center,” Stepner said. “I think that’s the issue. That’s what the development team has been trying to do, is balance all that.”
Because of the high interest in this project, San Diego officials tried to find a venue in Carmel Valley for Monday's 2 p.m. public hearing. That effort failed so the meeting will be held in the council chambers of the City Administration Building at 202 C St.