One Paseo, the 23-acre, $650 million mixed-use project proposed for Carmel Valley, is back from a brief hiatus and its developers are pushing for approval from the San Diego City Council by the summer.

This time last year, the project’s developers, Kilroy Realty, were looking to have their needed approval by right about … now.

But opponents — composed of local residents and the owners of a neighboring shopping center, both concerned about the traffic the pseudo-Main Street project will bring to the community — successfully delayed the process.

Specifically, the expected timeframe fell apart after:

• A heated January meeting of the Carmel Valley Planners Board punctuated by an appearance from Mayor Bob Filner, who showed up to scold Kilroy for proposing a project four times the size of the property’s existing zoning.

• A confusing March meeting of the same group, during which city traffic engineers tried to provide clarity on the project’s effects, but ended up confusing things even more.

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• A decision by the city, pushed by Filner, to expand the required environmental report by examining two scaled-down alternatives, requiring another 45 days of public review before the decision-making process can effectively resume.

So that’s where we’re at.

On Oct. 24, a new environmental report began its second 45-day comment period, which ends Dec. 10.

The delay also scared away a marquee tenant, Trader Joe’s, which had been used as a major selling point. Another specialty grocer, like True Foods, could take its place.

Developers say they’re hoping to get a vote from the planning group (that vote serves only as a recommendation) by late January or early February, a vote from the citywide Planning Commission (again, just a recommendation) by early spring and finally one from the City Council (that’s the one that actually counts), by summer.

But despite satisfying requests to explore scaled-down options, the proposal going forward is mostly the same.

In November of last year, Kilroy rolled out a smaller project than it had initially proposed. They killed the idea of including a big hotel, and scaled down the office and retail space by a little more than 10 percent. They reduced the overall size of the residential space, but kept the same number of residential units.

The result was the 1.4 million square foot, multi-use project discussed throughout the year. The 23-acre parcel on which it sits is currently zoned to allow 500,000 square feet of office space. Allowing for the bigger project means amending Carmel Valley’s 1975-adopted community plan, which requires Council approval.

“This project is the epitome of the ‘City of Villages,'” said Marcela Escobar-Eck, a land use consultant on One Paseo, referring to the general plan concept the city adopted in 2008.

The original environmental report examined a larger, 1.8 million square foot proposal. Now, the smaller option represents one of the three alternatives proposed in the new environmental study.

It’s also the only one of the three options deemed feasible by the new report.

The other two don’t meet the basic project objectives, according to the environmental report.

Namely, those proposals don’t offer the “main street development concept” Kilroy is going for. It wants to create an area where retail storefronts line both sides of a street, with residential units above.

“Basically, they seem to think ‘Main Street’ means residential over retail,” said Bob Fuchs, one of the most vocal project opponents, who writes for What Price Main Street?  a site for project opponents. “I always thought ‘Main Street’ harkens back to small towns with quiet streets where people could congregate.”

By scaling the project back, the other two alternatives don’t create the sort of concept Kilroy wants, along with open spaces and public plazas consistent with other ready-made mini-downtowns.

And since those projects don’t meet those objectives, the environmental report says they aren’t feasible. Because they aren’t feasible, the report doesn’t bother to break down how it would go about mitigating their environmental effects. Only the main proposal that’s been on the table for the last year gets that treatment.

Clarification: This post has been updated to better reflect the objections of One Paseo’s opponents.

    This article relates to: Growth and Housing, Land Use, Neighborhood Growth, News, One Paseo, Share

    Written by Andrew Keatts

    I'm Andrew Keatts, a reporter for Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at or 619.325.0529.


    I live a mile and one-half to the east of Del Mar Highlands. I have attended every meeting and read all the documents.

    The community opponents argue that 20,000 ADT will clog several already-congested intersections in the community with present LOS "E" and "F."

    That means that there could be rush hour traffic causing delays of 30 minutes or more during rush hour. Can you imagine another hour on your commute to Encinitas or San Diego? That loss of time would be caued just by activities from a 23.5 acre parcel recently purchased by a Los Angeles corporation at the peak of the market.

    Many people paid too much for property five years ago but do not get to request four times their entitlement under the community plan to make up for paying top much.

    Ingress and egress to the I/5 Freeway is worth up to an hour of residents's time per day? In that first golden hour following an emergency, you want to be in the emergency room at a hospital, not waiting on traffic.

    Nine and ten story buildings destroy the rustic charm of this planned community.

    SANDAG requires a mix of transportation including public transit of which there is none.

    SANDAG requires large mixed use projects to reduce dependency on autobiles to reduce greenhouse emissions. One Paseo is dependent on automobile traffic and will increase such emissions.

    Kilroy proposes several new traffic lights and alternative routes be planned and built on Via de la Valle and I/S 64, neither of which are approved.

    Proponents believe in high-density use that creates more greenhouse gases from drawing automobile traffic to Carmel Valley from all over the county. This is contrary to Smart Growth concepts of urban planning.

    Comments criticizing Bob Fuchs overlook all of the above to promote a facade of a Main Street.

    A scaled down version would allow Kilroy.Realty Corporation to use their property without increasing traffic congestion or changing the rustic character of Carmel Valley under the community plan.

    Mike subscriber

    I live in the area and have been following this development. I even talked to the One Paseo planners during one of their open houses. I can't say I'm an expert on this stuff...just a concerned resident. The pros (to me): bowling alley, movie theater, trader joe, and rebuilt surrounding roads. The cons (to me): more traffic with disregard for public transit and bicycles. Now that last part isn't a's just my interpretation of the planner's responses after talking to them. They insisted the biking facilities will be consistent with today's standards and seemed surprised I even asked the question. I'm not convinced they're going to be forward thinking in dealing with the traffic flow in this area.

    Given the above, I was kind of on the fence about it. Now that Trader Joe's is out, I'm definitely not going to be supporting One Paseo. I'm pretty sure I will be making time to attend some open meetings to protest this whole thing...until they bring Trader Joe's back in. Even then, I will have to carefully consider what other changes they made in the new proposal.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann

    Of course "Main Street" means residential over retail. What is Bob Fuchs thinking? It was only since the 1950s that zoning laws started to prohibit mixed-use.

    "One of the defining characteristics of a typical 'Main Street' is the presence of two and three story buildings with cafes, shops, galleries etc. on the ground floor and offices or apartments upstairs. Under conventional zoning ordinances this mix of land uses is not normally allowed." (see the link below)

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    Of course "Main Street" means residential over retail. What is Bob Fuchs thinking? It was only since the 1950s that zoning laws started to prohibit mixed-use.

    "One of the defining characteristics of a typical 'Main Street' is the presence of two and three story buildings with cafes, shops, galleries etc. on the ground floor and offices or apartments upstairs. Under conventional zoning ordinances this mix of land uses is not normally allowed." (see the link below)


    SANDAG requires that mixed-use projects restrict parking to reduce dependency on green-house gases under a Republic Governor's executive order. Reduced parking forces people to walk or bike, or use public transportation.

    There will not be any busline until at least 2030.

    One Paseo does not conform to these climate change prevention policies.


    "Main Street" has become a term that signifies an ideal of small town America (which Carmel Valley isn't, for better or for worse); using it as the moniker for the proposed One Paseo development is disingenuous and manipulative. We bought a stone's throw from Del Mar Highlands for walkability to stores and good schools, but are concerned with the dropping of a Horton Plaza-like development into a lot with two already congested access roads and zero--yes--zero public transportation (and none on the books, at least until 2036, at which point maybe one city bus line). Yet it's being marketed as a forward thinking, eco-friendly development. Bring in a shuttle running from Canyon Crest to Del Mar Plaza and then to the Coaster station and bus lines, then maybe. Otherwise, put forward a real alternative please Kilroy. Thanks for this balanced overview Mr. Keatts. In a town being bought out by Papa Doug (he just bought our local paper--so much for our op eds against this development), we are grateful for your voice.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    To reduce traffic congestion, the government needs to stop forcing developers to overbuild their parking lots. Want to reduce traffic on Carmel Valley Road? Let Del Mar Highlands make better use of the land currently wasted on excess parking so that they can build more stores. (I say "wasted" because the fiscally optimal amount of parking is not the amount where there's never a shortage when the equilibrium price of parking is zero, but the amount where the cost of building another parking space equals the lost revenue from not building it.) With more tax revenue generating stores and less parking, there would not only be less traffic, there would also be more money to spend on reducing traffic congestion.

    Unfortunately, the opposition wants the government to force One Paseo to build *more* parking than what's fiscally optimal, just so they (the opposition) could then complain about the traffic the additional parking would bring. And then we all lose from the loss of freedom.

    paul jamason
    paul jamason subscribermember

    I thought the same thing. Does Fuchs really believe this, or is he just saying it to justify his opposition to the project? Because it's absolutely wrong. San Diegans say the strangest things...