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Escobar-Eck: ‘We Can’t Continue to Grow Out; We Have to Grow Up’

Marcela Escobar-Eck might not be a household name, but the projects she’s worked on probably are.

The principal for land use consulting firm Atlantis Group was involved with three of San Diego’s most controversial land use efforts in the last 25 years: NTC Liberty Station, Sunroad tower and One Paseo [1].

That last one, the multi-use development planned for a 23-acre plot of land at the corner of Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real has become a point of controversy [2] for land use observers and Carmel Valley residents. When Council President Sherri Lightner joined us on the show a couple weeks ago [3], she made clear her distaste for the project and the efforts to get it approved.

Escobar-Eck objected to Lightner’s characterization of the project. “Contrary to what has been said by certain folks, this is not dumb growth, it is smart growth [4],” she told Scott Lewis in a special edition podcast. “And ‘smart growth’ is an overused term, but it’s responsible growth.”

She sees a general shift of greater responsibility from developers, driven by both the market and personal interests in sustainability. “You could build a really ugly building, build it with really cheap materials and leave town and you’re done. But that’s not what most companies these days are doing and that’s because that’s not what the workforce wants these days.”

Escobar-Eck also delivered some familiar real-talk: “We can’t continue to grow out, we have to grow up. The reason we’re not sustainable … unfortunately in San Diego, we have a chicken-and-egg situation … you can’t get the transit without the density. You can’t get the density without the transit.”

Check out her full conversation on the VOSD Radio podcast to learn why she takes issue with the phrase “follow the money,” the access that comes with support of some city issues, what she’s learned through different stages of her career in San Diego and more.

Listen to the podcast here [5]on Stitcher [6] or on iTunes [7].

Download Audio [5]