Carmel Valley Residents Need to Fight for What is Right!

It's time for us to stand up and tell Kilroy that their vision of One Paseo is NOT the life we want for Carmel Valley. We're willing to agree to a mixed-use project that is appropriate to the community, but not to the monstrous Urban Mall that they've proposed. We don't want a Los Angeles Infill Project. San Diego is a City of Villages, and we want our Village!

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The Station at Othello Park in Seattle

I found a website called hugeasscity.com, which is a pro-urbanization blog for Seattle. Their posting "Coming to Othello Station: The Future", discusses a project called The Station at Othello Park. This blog, which is about creating more dense projects like One Paseo, says that the Station project "is a big one, 420,000 total square feet, with 350 rental apartments and 40,000 square feet of retail." So, a group that is in favor of dense development calls 350 apartments and 40,000 sq ft of retail a big development! What would they call the 600 unit, 270,000 sq ft retail, plus hotel, plus 500,000 sq ft office?!! I suspect they'd call it huge, or a monstrosity.

But that's not the point I'm trying to make here. The point of this article is more about what the developer promises versus what is delivered. In this case, the developer showed this picture before development:

The Station, like One Paseo

What's being promised? A green place with wide sidewalks, inviting stores and space for bicycles. We'll see how that works out.

In the meantime, here's a picture of the construction nearly complete, with everything cleaned up and all the debris removed. Notice how much large the project is, how many levels are being built and the huge crane for moving materials. In fact, this is just like one of the residential blocks proposed for One Paseo, with 5 stories of residential over retail:

The Station construction, like One Paseo

Finally, here is the completed project, which may be mostly the same as the original image, but again, not quite the same. In some way, all the concrete and stucco isn't as uplifting as the marketing idea, it's really just become a large housing block:

The Station completed, like One Paseo

It's amazing how the original marketing image can look so inviting, while the completed project can look so, well, so urban. We need to remember this when Kilroy shows us marketing images of what life in Carmel Valley will be like after the completion of One Paseo and it's Main Street shopping plaza.

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Opposition to One Paseo from Retired Fire Captain

Read the letter at the Carmel Valley News, "Plan submitted for One Paseo much different than the 'dream'." It shows the concerns of a retired San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Captain from the Carmel Valley Fire Station 24. Can we trust Kilroy to give us an accurate assessment of how increased traffic will impact Fire and Police services? A previous supporter's letter in claimed that the environmental impact report (where traffic is considered) was done by some mythical "independent" agency. In reality, it's done by Kilroy (or their consultants.) Why are their so many people willing to trust a developer to do the right thing?

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One Paseo, Is this what you expect?

Big, like One Paseo

Here's a big new development in Los Angeles (click image for larger view), out near Marina del Rey and LMU. This is 3 and 4 stories over retail, so One Paseo will be one story TALLER than this! Is this what you expect the Carmel Valley Main Street to look like? Does this look anything like what Kilroy has been showing us? It may be a good life in an urban area, but it's what the San Diego plan calls for in our Carmel Valley community.

Try to imagine what it would be like to walk down the length of Main Street where the smaller buildings on the north side are this big. Don't forget, at one end of the street there will be an 8 and a 10 story office building, and at the other end there will be a 10 story residential tower (at least twice this tall!)

One Paseo is Larger Than You Think

One Paseo scale buildings

When you first glance at this picture, it doesn't look that big. Then you see the cars at the bottom and you realize it's massive! This is similar in scale to what is proposed for One Paseo in Carmel Valley, San Diego. Imagine walking down Carmel Valley's Main Street with this looming over you! Now, Kilroy will say that One Paseo isn't all this tall, and that's true. But, some of the buildings on Main Street are actually TALLER! This is 6 stories with a short lower floor, while One Paseo will include retail on the bottom floor, which is much taller than what is pictured.

Now, imagine driving down Del Mar Heights Road. This is what will be on the south side of the road between El Camino Real and High Bluff Drive. Sure, some of it will be four story and some will be five (like this picture), but it will stretch continuously between the two signals. Did I mention that there will be two more traffic signals in there, as well? And a 10 story residential tower (twice this high) at the top, at High Bluff? And, as much retail as the entire Del Mar Highlands Town Center? And two office buildings that are 8 or more stories tall? And a 6 story hotel? If you think that's bad, take all the buildings combined (retail, residential, hotel and office), and that's how big the parking garages will be. That's right, 1.8 Million Square Feet of development AND 1.8 Million more Square Feet of parking garages.

Huge. Massive. Insane.

I didn't used to believe all this, because I thought people were exaggerating. I used to be in favor of the project because I thought it would bring us a nice retail village to Carmel Valley, a place for shopping and dining, a place to casually visit with friends. But, then I started looking at the plans, and reading Kilroy's numbers. I even built a Google Earth model of the project, you can download it and see for yourself (Ken's Google Earth Model of One Paseo.) Only then did I see that the doomsayers were actually telling the truth.

Sure, Kilroy has all their pretty marketing pictures, it looks great. But, the reality is more like the picture above, or this construction video, below (it's Atlantic Times Square in LA.) Look especially at the part where they go outside, at about the 30 second mark.

I believe this is a Video more like One Paseo than all the marketing nonsense we've seen. Can you imagine this in Carmel Valley?

One Paseo (Kilroy?) wrote on The Carmel Valley Life:

We understand everyone has a right to their own opinion; however it is too bad that many of the people writing about One Paseo a “Main Street for Carmel Valley” in a negative way and using terms such as “monstrosity” are simply uninformed with how successful mixed-use development works.

What I want to know is, given the above comparisons that I believe to be correct, how could anyone NOT call One Paseo a monstrosity?

Pearl Street in Boulder Should be Our Model

Pearl St. Mall in Boulder would be a good model for Main Street in Carmel Valley

Look at this picture of the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, Colorado. Doesn't this look like the kind of Main Street you'd want in Carmel Valley? It's mostly made up of 2 story buildings, with a few taller structures. None of the 6 or 10 story towers that Kilroy is proposing for Carmel Valley. This is the village I would want in suburban San Diego.

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The Toll of Auto Traffic

The toll of traffic caused by One Paseo will be high...

We all know that there's a psychological toll of automobile traffic, so why would be knowingly agree to dramatically increase the traffic in Carmel Valley? From the article:

As society hurtles forward in an age of instant messaging and one-click shopping, motorists paradoxically find themselves moored between bumpers for hours a day, with a psychic toll that experts are still trying to tally.

Yet, we support the One Paseo plan to bring 25,000 to 35,000 additional cars onto Carmel Valley roads every day? Sure, the developer tells us that we'll eventually have a bus line, or they'll time the signals and all will be better. Right. The reality is that the new bus line is in the 2050 transportation plan, and the traffic on Del Mar Heights Road is limited by the freeway congestion. If the freeway is already packed, it doesn't matter if the local signals are timed, you're still stuck.

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What Do We Want For Main Street?

I've talked a lot about what is bad about the proposed project, but not about what could be good for our Carmel Valley Main Street. I would love to see something with a village atmosphere, a more small-town approach to development. The final project can still have all the same uses, just at a lower scale. A good place to start looking for ideas is SANDAG's Smart Growth page, where they have a document on Designing for the Region. Here's a rendering they did for Imperial Beach:

Possible Carmel Valley Main Street, from Imperial Beach

I like this because it's a less-urban look, more like the suburban village we imagine for Carmel Valley. This Main Street features 1 and 2 stories of residential over retail, with some of the residential stepped back from the street (so as not to create a looming wall of buildings.) This is much better than what Kilroy proposes, they want to add 2 or 3 stories of residential on top of what you see above!

Here's another image that I like, it's a rendering for the La Mesa Town Center:

La Mesa Town Center as an example for Carmel Valley Main Street

I like the trees here and the lower buildings, but it's possible that everything is too vertical. If some of the upper floors stepped back from the street, it would certainly be better. Also, I would love wider sidewalks, where we could have cafes and outside seating.

What do you think? Do you like these better than the urban center that Kilroy has proposed? Or, are you thinking that the Horton Plaza look is good for Carmel Valley?

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What the One Paseo Construction Will Look Like

When they build One Paseo, the project will be massive. This video shows One Paseo under construction, or, what it will look like. Watch this one from about the 30 second mark, where they go outside into the street. The project isn't exactly the same, but the building heights are very similar to what you'll find on the proposed Carmel Valley Main Street.

We need to remember that this is a marketing story, intended to sell a controversial project to the community. Kilroy's brochures and website show us young couples holding hands and people shopping in lush plazas, with taller structures minimized or not pictured. The reality is that One Paseo puts downtown scale into a suburban location. They want nearly 2 million square feet, including hi-rise office towers, looming residential blocks and massive parking structures, in a fairly small lot. This will turn our "Village Main Street" into an "Urban Mall". Search online for "One Paseo" and "Atlantic Times Square" for a comparison, the videos are especially amazing.

Let's tell Kilroy that this is not the project we want and it's time for them to provide us with an appropriate, reduced alternative. Give us a project that maintains our community character and ensures that growth doesn't overrun local schools, streets and parks. San Diego is a City of Villages, and we want our Village!

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More On Traffic

Additional One Paseo TrafficWe all know that Del Mar Heights Road in Carmel Valley gets totally messed up at certain times of the year, imagine it with One Paseo completed, when there will be an additional 30,000 cars on the road! On top of that, imagine more development at the Town Center, they're approved already for another 150,000 sq ft of retail (9,000 cars). And, the new Pacific Highlands Ranch shopping center, out by CCA, could add even more! Our suburban San Diego paradise just might turn into a parking lot.

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One Paseo Traffic Generation

I read in a newspaper article that One Paseo would generate about 30,000 additional cars on the road each day. Of course, Kilroy said that it couldn't be possible, the number must be much lower. Out of interest, I looked up the City of San Diego Trip Generation Manual (pdf), which lets you calculate the numbers yourself based on City standard data. In just a few minutes of looking, I found the numbers were right around 29,000 to 30,000 additional trips per day. Try to imagine another 30,000 cars on Del Mar Heights Road!

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One Paseo Has New York City Densities

One Paseo's Main Street has very high density, similar to what you'd find in New York City. Look at the picture here (click the image to see more detail and read more information), it's a nice, walkable street in downtown New York City. The buildings on the right hand side of the street are 3, 4 and 5 stories of residential over retail shopping, exactly what Kilroy has proposed for One Paseo in Carmel Valley! Does this look like a suburban San Diego street to you, or something more like an inappropriate Urban Center?

One Paseo is not a done deal. We need to tell Kilroy that what they're proposing is not right for our home. We want a suburban Village, not this Urban beast.

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San Diego Builders' Group Wants to Overpower Local Opposition

I love the way the Builders' Institute of America, San Diego, is willing to just come out and say that people in the construction industry should write letters and attend hearings to get projects approved even though those pesky neighbors don't like it:

BIA members that like [Project Green Light] projects support those projects by writing letters or attending local government review meetings in person...to counter-balance vocal project opponents.

And, hey, if you're not a good public speaker, they'll even train you to appear in government hearings!

Don't feel comfortable in Government hearings? Don't worry, it is actually quite easy. But to ensure you feel prepared, BIA will host a series of training programs that gives you the basics so you are confident participating in Project Green Light.

It's all right there on their website, see the BiA Project Greenlight page! Perhaps this is where all those letters of support for the One Paseo project are coming from? Doesn't it seem like the people who have to live with the development for the rest of their lives, the citizens of Carmel Valley, should decide if this makes sense?

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Video of a Similar Project in Los Angeles

This is a video of a construction walk through of the Atlantic Times Square project in Los Angeles. It's about the same density as the proposed One Paseo development in Carmel Valley, San Diego. Except One Paseo has 3 times the development on 3 times the land! So, roughly speaking, One Paseo is like 3 of these set side-by-side! While the Kilroy people will tell you that you're getting a Main Street for Carmel Valley, it's pretty clear that this isn't the village Main Street that we all desire. Instead, we're turning San Diego into an urban nightmare: A Los Angeles Infill Project.

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What One Paseo Will Look Like - Part 1

This isn't One Paseo, but it could be. It's really Atlantic Times Square, a Los Angeles Infill Project that has almost exactly the same density as One Paseo. You will find this same building height, 5 stories of residential over retail, on the proposed Main Street for Carmel Valley, San Diego. Does this look like a peaceful village main street to you? It's time to demand better! Tell Kilroy that we want our Village Main Street, not this monstrous Urban Mall.

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