Bob Fuchs | Newcrest Point, Carmel Valley | Co-Founder of WhatPriceMainStreet coalition of concerned community residents
The City of San Diego issued a Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report for One Paseo on October 24, 2013 with a comment period ending December 10, 2013. The Recirculated Draft was put in motion during the short tenure of Mayor Filner to evaluate the impacts of 3 new, smaller alternatives. The City staff is currently preparing responses to comments received to be compiled into a Final Environmental Impact Report. Still to come are:
1) An advisory recommendation following a public meeting of the designated community planning board (in this case, the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board) to the City’s Planning Commission.
2) A formal recommendation by the Planning Commission to the City Council following one or more public hearings to approve, conditionally approve or deny the project application.
3) A decision by the San Diego City Council at a public hearing, following receipt of the PC’s recommendation, to approve, conditionally approve, or deny the project application.
This process will likely unfold during the next 4-6 months.
With the One Paseo consultants reporting $1.2 million in lobbying expenditures through 3rd quarter 2013 and draft environmental impact reports prepared by the City continuing to echo the One Paseo PR campaign rather than providing an objective evaluation of the various alternatives (2 of the 3 smaller alternatives were considered unfeasible and the third is still 3 times allowed zoning), it seems unlikely that the Final EIR will provide a reasonable basis for the San Diego City Council to make a decision.
If there is any hope of derailing this egregious expression of developer influence on City Hall, the residents of Carmel Valley and neighboring communities have to act NOW to avoid being trapped in their automobiles for long periods of time in future years as they commute to work, school, etc.
• Go to the WhatPriceMainStreet.com website’s “Get Involved” page to get email instructions for the City Council and key staff personnel for San Diego, Del Mar, and Solana Beach. Express your thoughts and indignation about how the planning process is being co-opted by the developers.
• Support the WhatPriceMainStreet coalition of concerned residents in their efforts to educate the community and city officials.
• Attend as many of the public hearings as possible to “vote with your feet” against this massive increase in development entitlement.
What has happened so far… The remainder of the text did NOT appear in the print issue of the February Sandpiper.
After reading the Recirculated Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), it appears that City management has no appetite to stand up to the developer’s lobbyists and consultants and refuses to produce a report that clearly describes the foreseeable impacts from the various alternatives to the original One Paseo proposal. While examples of faulty reasoning and lack of transparency are numerous, here are two egregious examples requiring only common sense to understand:
1) The One Paseo traffic study conspicuously omits analyzing the tremendously increased traffic during the 15-year period between 2015 (following completion of One Paseo) and 2030 (when two new connectors between I-5 and SR-56 were estimated to be completed).
While the traffic at Del Mar Heights Rd. and I-5 was projected to be greater than the road’s theoretical carrying capacity (unacceptable by City standards) for both points in time, the 2030 traffic projection was based on an earlier I-5/SR 56 connector study performed for CALTRANS to evaluate the reduction in traffic through local neighborhoods if one or two new freeway connectors were to be built. Plus, the One Paseo traffic study used only the most optimistic, two-connector alternative.
Clearly, until both connectors are constructed, the road segment would have the same conditions as having no connector completed. Adding the traffic generated by One Paseo to the traffic projection for no connectors being built would project a traffic level for Del Mar Heights Rd. among the worst traffic-congested areas in San Diego County.
This is something the One Paseo developer certainly doesn’t want the public to know, and City staff has allowed this to be omitted from the traffic study and DEIR!
2) The 3 new alternatives directed by the City to be studied in the Recirculated Draft were:
a) A “Reduced Main Street” project (1.46 million square feet of office, retail and residential uses, nearly 3X as large as its current entitlement and generating 4X as much traffic)
b) A “Reduced Mixed Use” project (817,000 square feet of office, retail and residential uses, or 1.6 X as large and generating 1.8X as much traffic)
c) A “Specialty Food Market Retail” project (80,000 SF of retail and market, 16% of its current entitlement, and generating about 1.1X as much traffic)
The Recirculated Draft dismisses out of hand the Reduced Mixed Use project for not meeting “Project Objectives;” there is not even a site plan showing how the various uses might be situated on the site along with public open space, parking and circulation. In fact, the Recirculated Draft is so pro-developer in its handling of the various alternatives that it concludes that the Reduced Main Street alternative (which the developer has publicly agreed to build) meets most of “the basic objectives of the project applicant,” and is considered a feasible alternative. The use of “project APPLICANT” in quotes is a Freudian slip, if ever there was one.
Interestingly, there is not a single quantitative parameter to be found in the description of project objectives. So how could the Reduced Mixed Use alternative (incorporating the same uses as the Reduced Main Street alternative but on a smaller scale) be dismissed out of hand without even a modest analysis to see what the smaller project might look like and how much better the road infrastructure might work?
The third new alternative apparently was included only because the Filner administration required an alternative different from the current office zoning, but generating roughly the same traffic. This, too, was dismissed out of hand by the Recirculated Draft with little analysis.