Residents who oppose a new development in their neighborhood are often dismissed as NIMBYs.

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But some projects really are flawed and ill-suited for a community. Such is the case with Kilroy Realty’s One Paseo.

The concerns surrounding the One Paseo project are so great that the project has attracted opponents well beyond Carmel Valley. In addition to the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board, the planning groups of Torrey Pines and Del Mar Mesa voted to reject the project.

The cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach oppose One Paseo and BikeSD’s Sam Ollinger has publicly denounced it as “bad for bicycling.”

Beyond official bodies, two primary opposition groups have emerged. What Price Main Street? represents the views of many Carmel Valley residents and businesses and comprises more than 5,000 members. The group has been working for six years to achieve modifications to One Paseo that would make it appropriate for the community.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

READ MORE: All the Fuss About One Paseo in One Placeo

Mitigate One Paseo is a coalition of coastal cities, planning areas and agencies, all concerned about the project’s impacts beyond Carmel Valley. One Paseo’s traffic impacts will be felt as far as several miles away and the project is designed to attract visitors from a 10-mile radius.

What is unique about these groups is that none has said the site should not be developed. They aren’t even advocating for a strict implementation of the zoning designation, which allows for 510,000 square feet of office space.

What Price Main Street?, the longest active residential coalition, has repeatedly expressed its support for a mixed-use project on the site. The group’s qualifier is simply that the project fit the community and respect the established neighborhood character – something the 1.45 million square foot One Paseo, with its 150-foot towers, doesn’t do.

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board even indicated it could support a development a few hundred thousand square feet greater than the current zoning designates.

The bottom line: Many of the individuals, businesses, governments and advocacy groups that oppose One Paseo don’t have a blanket opposition to development. In fact, they’re open to development and are flexible on the size and shape of a new project.

So how did we get just a few weeks away from City Council consideration with thousands of unhappy San Diegans dedicated to fighting this project?

Kilroy began its quest to build One Paseo by unveiling a 2.1-million square foot mixed-use center more than six years ago. The project was communicated early on to the public through a 26-page brochure with warm and inviting pictures but not one mention of its size or scale.

A second iteration of the plan landed at 1.8 million square feet with no reduction in actual development – just a withdrawal of the parking structure’s square footage. When it was forced to consider other alternatives, the developer scaled down again, to 1.45 million square feet, by removing a proposed hotel. That proposal, though, would still triple the density currently allowed.

Kilroy’s strategy seems to be touting the project’s economic impact – yes, undoubtedly, adding so many new uses to the area will result in some positive economic numbers – and disseminating pretty pictures that disguise the true size of the center.

Truly constructive community engagement isn’t on the list.

Kilroy often touts its efforts to respond to community feedback. But we haven’t been impressed, to say the least.

A member of What Price Main Street? was one of several planning board members to meet early on with Kilroy during its initial outreach. At these meetings, there was no discussion of project size, height, density or traffic, only whether the community would be OK with a mixed-use development.

In multiple instances during the planning process, direct questions and concerns raised by the community regarding traffic and density were ignored or dismissed. It wasn’t until the draft environmental impact report was issued in March 2012 that the project’s traffic, size and scale and its negative impacts became public.

In fact, the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board’s comments to that report stated, “Community planning engagement process was ignored. The project description’s goals/objectives were not the result of a community planning engagement process set forth in the General Plan.” Kilroy did not respond to this comment in its final environmental impact report.

A developer that genuinely considered the community’s input would not have proposed a project that has motivated more than 5,000 opponents to sign petitions, write letters and send emails to City Council. Nor would such a developer be distributing a mailer across the city in a desperate attempt to drum up support outside the community.

Can this take-no-prisoners approach really work? Can a developer identify a plot of land, propose whatever it wants regardless of land use restrictions, dismiss the concerns of thousands of area residents and receive a project greenlight?

We’ll soon find out where City Council members come down, and the result could set an ugly precedent. After all, if One Paseo is approved, developers will certainly reflect on their approach to community outreach and will likely find it isn’t worth the effort. Why should they take the time to meet with neighbors, host open houses or consider the feedback of planning groups if a project can be approved without these extra steps?

The City Council must weigh the costs and benefits of all projects, but one fact is certain. If the concerns of an entire community can be cast aside in the name of opportunity, our entire civic structure is under attack.

Bill Chatwell is a Carmel Valley resident and member of What Price Main Street? Chatwell’s commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

    This article relates to: Land Use, News, One Paseo, Opinion

    Written by Catherine Green

    Catherine Green is deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handles daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects. You can contact her directly at or 619.550.5668. Follow her on Twitter: @c_s_green.

    Ed Harris
    Ed Harris subscriber

    I just want to clarify that commenter edwingharris is not former District 2 City Councilman Ed Harris.

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember

    There is a paid signature gatherer (OMG) in front of the Rite Aid at Del Mar Highlands collecting signatures from local community in support of the project to be submitted to council?

    Didn't appear to be getting many signatures.

    Perhaps a petition of those opposed would fare better

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    This is a good piece of advocacy. It might be interesting to read an equally fervent piece of advocacy from the other side to get a full perspective.

    michael-leonard subscriber

    Honestly, what does Sam Hodgson have against level horizons? Does EVERY photo HAFTA be tilted??

    And doesn't VoSD have another decent image they can use??

    Desde la Logan
    Desde la Logan subscriber

    Where did Carmel Valley residents come down on the vote to keep poisoning Barrio Logan residents? What? They voted against clean air for my fellow barrio residents? Then I hope the city council votes in favor of Paseo One. And I hope Carmel Valley residents will then place it on the ballot for a referendum so I can then vote in favor of the project. These well off jerks didn't mind voting to keep toxic industry next door to residences and schools. Well, this not-so-well of jerk doesn't care about their traffic problems and density issues.

    Diogenes subscriber

    Let us not generalize about this group or that group. The good ole' boys and girls downtown want to divide us. You seem to be falling into their trap.

    If groups throughout San Diego would support one another, the good ole' boys and girls would respect local community input. Remember that they themselves do not want Sacramento to tell them what to do. One such issue is environmental quality and air pollution. San Diego wants to write it's own rules.

    We need to reach out to each other's communities. I supported David Alvarez' campaign financially and with my time. He and I often talked of local community's interests, both in your community and mine.

    Be not so quick to judge Democrats in Carmen Valley. Progressives and environmentalists here are your allies.

    Please be assured that many of us do care. We spent our money and our time supporting your community. Maybe it is time to repay us. We never asked anything in return. That is why you do not know who we are. Ask David Alvarez about those who supported him in Carmel Valley.

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember


    "If groups throughout San Diego would support one another, the good ole' boys and girls would respect local community input."

    Really, no mater what your political leanings are, is what the conversation should be about.

    Change is coming and everyone knows it but the suburban communities standing up and not allowing the city to simply dictate what change looks like is great.

    edwingharris subscriber

    @Diogenes That's right, the divide and conquer is at play.  The City has each one of our neighborhoods engaged in battle so we won't notice what's going on next door.  I had no knowledge of the BS going in Barrio Logan, but you can bet I will now.  If you cast a larger net, you'll see it in La Mesa, El Cajon, Mission Valley, OB, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Leucadia, Grantville, Clairemont, etc.  I agree, our local community planning groups should be banding together.

    Liz Shopes
    Liz Shopes subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann Are you really saying that building One Paseo will help the traffic on Del Mar Hts Road?  Why doesn't the city just time the stoplights on it's own? 

    Diogenes subscriber

    @Derek Hofman,

    I have two brief questions for you since you always comment in favor of the proposed project.

    Do you live in Carmel Valley?

    Do you have any economic connection to Kilroy?

    There have been astroturfers hired by Kilroy. That is unfair competition and defeats the process of genuine community input.

    I hope that your name is not among the astroturfers.

    The community input process has been corrupted by corporate interests using these techniques. So what are your answers?

    Ducraker subscriber

    Good question, well Derek????

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    I have no connection to Kilroy. I'm just a resident of San Diego who doesn't like paying taxes and recognizes that a key to lower taxes is making our land more tax-efficient. Single-use residential zoning is very tax-inefficient compared to mixed-use, and all that required parking places a greater burden on our streets and roads, driving up taxes even further. So when someone opposes One Paseo, they're implicitly supporting higher taxes on the rest of San Diego.

    Diogenes subscriber

    One Paseo costs money in road maintenance by increasing vehicle miles traveled. Get your facts straight on this issue.

    Increasing vehicle miles traveled act like a tax on everyone. Check out

    Future developers of large suburban mixed use developments will have to be located within one-half mile of an established network of public transportation under the new CEQA Guidelines going into effect later this year under the Steinberg Amendments. These changes were studied for almost a decade. Society will pay a reduced price if we adopt rational urban planning.

    San Diego cannot even fix the potholes in the road. Public transportation systems are the future in urban planning and in combating climate change.

    It will be cheaper in the longrun to design the urban landscape to be energy-efficient and conserve the environment. That is the policy behind the law. One Paseo is 100-percent auto dependent. It will draw many more vehicle miles. That acts like a tax on us all for many decades into the future.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Willie Fijolek Buildings don't cause traffic. Parking spaces do. Please join me in opposing San Diego's requirement that Kilroy build more parking than the market wants.

    Willie Fijolek
    Willie Fijolek subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann If you believe more parking and greater burdens on the streets causes higher taxes than you should be against the proposed size of this project.  It is Kilroy, the developer, who wants to increase zoning to make this project a regional draw, putting more folks on the road, which requires more parking, and a greater burden on our streets. As for your other argument, no one is opposed to a mixed use development. You have this entire thing backwards.

    Willie Fijolek
    Willie Fijolek subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann @Willie Fijolek Do you not realize the City requires more parking when there is more square footage? So building size does cause more parking.

    Also if you attended the CV planning board meetings, you would have heard Kilroy say the size needs to be there to make One Paseo a regional draw. A regional draw means folks driving on the roads further distances and a increase in parking requirements, both of which you have said means more taxes for all of us. 

    You argument for this project completely falls apart.

    edwingharris subscriber

    @Diogenes  The treatment of San Diegans by corporate interests is appalling.  Revolving door politics, astroturfing, bullying, abuse of referendums. The citizens of San Diego need to mitigate San Diego.  Community planning groups are our only protection and they are being undermined.  Even the FAA are considered NIMBY'S in this town.  

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Willie Fijolek Do you think the government is more qualified than local businesses to decide how much parking those businesses should provide for their own customers?

    Should the government also dictate to restaurants how many tables and chairs they should put out? And to clothing stores the quantity, style, color, and price of clothes to sell?

    If not, then please join me in opposing San Diego's requirement that Kilroy build more parking than the market wants.

    Willie Fijolek
    Willie Fijolek subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann @Willie Fijolek You are becoming a moving target. I refuted your arguments in favor of this project. Those arguments about parking, street use and taxes were found to be misguided and/or wrong.

    Now you bring up an entirely different issues over the minutia that governments may or may not, sometimes get involved in. Most of which are red herrings with regard to this project, since they aren't even in dispute by the developer.

    Those issues really have nothing to do with the requested variance over the size of this particular development, and the size, not the type, is the only issue between San Diegans and the developer.

    So far you have not raised any valid arguments and/or concerns. In fact, the ones you have raised should put you against any increase or variance in zoning in favor of the developer.  Your obsessive support of this project without rational brings questions why.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Willie Fijolek You're saying that buildings cause traffic because San Diego forces developers to (over)build parking, which in turn causes traffic. In that roundabout way, you're correct that buildings cause traffic. Agreed?

    And so I asked, why must San Diego force developers to (over)build parking? This to me is an obvious question in light of the statement above. You say it's a red herring because the developer hasn't complained about it, but do you honestly think it would do them any good to ask for less parking?

    You are also correct that One Paseo will put more cars on the road. I asked Diogenes a question that maybe you can answer: What use of that land would not increase vehicle miles traveled?

    Here's why this project would benefit taxpayerst: big-box stores generate almost $8,350 per acre per year in tax revenue, while mid-rise mixed-use like One Paseo generate $550,000 to $800,000 which is almost 10 times as much.

    Willie Fijolek
    Willie Fijolek subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann @Willie Fijolek No I am not saying that at all. I'm saying  a regional shopping complex, the type Kilroy wants here, will cause more traffic to the site than what building within their current zoning would. That is something everyone; Kilroy, the City and the locals agree upon.

    More traffic creates more parking issues for all those autos when they reach the area. Less parking spaces creates more circling of cars, jockeying for limited spaces. That will probably be an issue at One Paseo, since the developer has proposed less parking per square foot than the neighboring shopping center, which already is building a new parking structure because parking there is so bad.

    Higher overall tax revenue may be generated, if the project doesn't hurt the value of other revenue generators in the area. That is something for the city to consider when evaluating the project. It's odd that you bring this up higher taxes now because you were complaining about higher taxes earlier when you mentioned the effect of traffic on roads.

    Lastly, with regard to tax revenue, the problem you have here is no one is proposing a big box store, and, everyone is in favor of a mixed use plan. You are raising more red herring arguments.

     The entire debate is over the size of the project, not the type of project. The traffic it will generate, the effect the project, and it's traffic, will have on schools, parks and emergency services.

    These traffic problems won't be isolated to Carmel Valley resident's but to all San Diego area residents, who use I5 to travel through North County, for work or to play. Expect I5 to be impassable more often and for longer periods, when you decide to go to the Fairgrounds or the races or to other local amenities like the beaches or state parks.

    This project, three times it's zoning, will have an extreme negative effect on all San Diegans. 

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Willie Fijolek "a regional shopping complex, the type Kilroy wants here, will cause more traffic to the site than what building within their current zoning would."

    There are some who use that to argue for replacing parking minimums with parking maximums, because why would someone drive there without a good chance of finding a parking spot?

    "Less parking spaces creates more circling of cars, jockeying for limited spaces"

    You're describing a "shortage," where demand exceeds supply. What can we learn from the way eBay and Uber have solved the same problem?

    "the neighboring shopping center...already is building a new parking structure because parking there is so bad."

    Del Mar Highlands wants to expand the theater and build more shops and restaurants. Do you think the city would have let them do that without more parking?

    "no one is proposing a big box store"

    Edwingharris in the other thread suggested a Costco:

    Willie Fijolek
    Willie Fijolek subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann @Willie Fijolek I don't get your obsession with parking. Parking isn't really an issue within the proposal for the variance. If you don't like how the city, county or whatever body is deciding how many spaces should be provided by a developer take that up with that body. In this case it isn't an issue.

    I only spoke about parking  because you used it to say it causes higher taxes because of wear and tear on roads. If that is an issue with you you should be lobbying for nothing at all to be built there.  Another red herring.

    A shortage of parking spots will create circling and spillover into nearby streets and neighborhoods along with longer trip times before it gets folks out of cars and using uber. Another red herring.

    The other shopping center isn't built out yet. They are entitled to expand. Are you lobbying the city to relax parking for them? Or are you just supporting Kilroy with red herring arguments because you have nothing better to do?

    Lastly, I tediously went through that entire thread. edwingharris, didn't propose a Costco. He is clearly a proponent of a rightsized mixed use project, closer to Kilroy's current zoning allowance.  Costco only came up when another poster asked if he wanted to see a strip mall there. Why are you are misquoting something from another article? 

    Willie Fijolek
    Willie Fijolek subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann @Willie Fijolek

    You are obsessed with parking. It isn't even a major issue with anyone else.

    My discussion about parking was in response to your argument that parking causes traffic, and because of parking, street taxes increase. I don't disagree. I just pointed out that a regional draw is going to attract even more folks in cars. So we are all best served if they can park these cars expeditiously, instead of having them circle, and spill out into nearby streets and neighborhoods.

    Circling and spill over will happen before anyone even considers using uber. Until folks give up cars, we will need parking and roads. Anyway, using uber won't help at all with wear and tear on the roads. It's still a vehicle on the road.

    And Kilroy isn't helping you here. They want folks to come to an area that has no public transit. They expect folks to drive in their cars. They also want these folks coming from a larger and further and more widespread area to maximize rents. That is why they want a larger project than current zoning allows, to maximize rents.

    The other shopping center is entitled to expand under it's current zoning and building more parking makes sense since parking has been a major issue.

    Lastly, I had to tediously read through another entire thread to see that you were mischaracterizing edwingharris post about Costco. He has clearly said he is in favor of a mixed use development on the site, not a Costco. He didn't propose a Costco. He is bothered by the scale of this project. Why would you mischaracterize him?

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Willie Fijolek "I don't get your obsession with parking."

    True or false: parking induces traffic.

    "Circling and spill over will happen before anyone even considers using uber."

    It appears the word "Uber" confused you, so I'll ask the question again in a slightly different way and omit the word. Given that a parking shortage is a situation where demand exceeds supply, what can we learn from the way eBay has solved the problem where there are multiple bidders and only one item for sale, and how can we apply that to permanently eliminate parking shortages?

    "They want folks to come to an area that has no public transit. They expect folks to drive in their cars."

    Actually, they're going to run a shuttle to the Sorrento Valley Coaster station.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Diogenes "One Paseo costs money in road maintenance by increasing vehicle miles traveled."

    What use of that land would not increase vehicle miles traveled? Can you put even a single parking space on that land without increasing VMT?

    Willie Fijolek
    Willie Fijolek subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann @Willie Fijolek

    Why do you ask a question without answering mine about why you would mischaracterize edwingharris's post? It really makes you less credible and calls into question you motive here.

    You are already really thin on justification for your support of this project. All your arguments have been demonstrated to be either false or misguided and you continue with red herring arguments, like parking, which no one including the developers are raising as a major issue.

    I'll play your game though.

    False. I have been to many places I can park my car easily that are traffic free. Those would include all sorts of parks, all sorts of shopping centers and business districts. They are traffic free because there is little attractiveness or incentive to visit. Parking in itself does not induce traffic.

    Again with ebay and uber? And parking? You do understand the retailers and other tenants of a development need parking for their customers and employees? They actually want shoppers and they want their shoppers to have a positive experience. Not being able to park you car without circling is not a positive experience. All of this won't change traffic at a desirable location until there is an alternative form of travel. The roads are driven on whether it is personal cars or uber, the parking is needed whether you charge for it or if it is free. 

    Yes, They are going to run a shuttle to the SV train station. How many folks do you think will take that option? Besides that how does one get to their local station to take the train? And do they need to park their car there? Oh my, this won't be taking care of traffic either if folks need to drive to the train and then be shuttled to the shopping center.

    That is exactly why these type of large urban centers need to be in a urban environment where folks have walk-able access to transit to and from their homes and the shopping center. That is an integral part of what is smart growth and why this project doesn't qualify as smart growth. 

    Let me sum it up. Development of the property is not an issue. Mixed use is not the issue. All sides see both as mostly a benefit. Parking is not a major issue. It will become an issue if there is spillover out of the center and if it further snarls traffic. That remains to be seen.

    The size of the project almost three times the current zoning is a major issue because will cause traffic concerns; in the area and spilling over onto the I5 which will snarl traffic for those who are not even visiting the center. Unacceptable levels of traffic congestion will happen even with the best mitigation levels proposed. Those will also affect emergency services in and through the area.

    The size of the project will bring 600 units with new residents. Those new residents will also strain emergency services, schools and other local public services. The local grade school is at capacity and will be across Del Mar Heights Road which will be a river of fast moving cars at the time children will need to cross in the morning. It will also be the time most folks will be trying to commute to work.

    That adds another danger factor and another unmitigable traffic issue. Cars won't be moving as one small group of children  after another crosses the street.

    So another question, what is the real reason you support this project because none of your rational so far has held up under scrutiny?

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Willie Fijolek The effect of free and abundant parking on traffic demand has been definitively quantified:

    "The price elasticity of vehicle trips with respect to parking price is typically –0.1 to –0.3 (a 10% increase in parking fees reduces vehicle trips by 1-3%), depending on conditions (Vaca and Kuzmyak, 2005; Litman 2008)."[1]

    In other words, people drive more when parking is free and abundant. This, of course, means that free and abundant parking increases traffic, and then taxpayers have to spend more money to widen roads to move all that traffic, or deal with the consequences.


    Frohman subscriber

    @Liz Shopes @Derek Hofmann The city can't fix potholes, how do you think the they can afford such technology?  Private investment, that's how.

    Willie Fijolek
    Willie Fijolek subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann @Willie Fijolek Your nonsense and disingenuousness is no longer worth responding to because you ask questions but don't answer any. You give demonstrably false reason for  your support of this project. You have no credibility.

    Is someone paying you to post support? Do you have a  financial incentive for supporting this project? From what I can clearly see anybody paying you is wasting their money on your nonsense.

    If you have a financial interest in this project you should be upfront just as Kilroy should be. There is nothing wrong with desiring to make as much as possible off a project. 

    What is wrong is to hide a financial interest in the project. What is wrong is to bring up red herring arguments and nonsense. What is wrong is to mischaracterize other folks posts.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Willie Fijolek Because this project will bring tax revenue to San Diego and because it will impact the surrounding tax-supported infrastructure, everybody who pays taxes to San Diego has a financial stake in this project, just as they did with the Barrio Logan community plan. I have no other financial stake in the project.

    "red herring"

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Willie Fijolek
    Willie Fijolek subscriber

    @Derek Hofmann @Willie Fijolek 

    Now we are getting somewhere.

    You want the most tax revenue possible without regard to how it affects a neighborhood. Any project there would bring revenue whether it's their zoned 500,000 sf or their current request of 1.4 million sf. 

    ....and then all the time we wasted on parking was a distraction and irrelevant?

    "... a "red herring" argument is one which distracts the audience from the issue in question through the introduction of some irrelevancy."