The controversial, $7.5 million "One Paseo" project came back to San Diego's City Council in revised form on Monday -- 16 months after its originally accepted scheme had been scaled back -- and got an 8-1 vote of approval.
The Council’s earlier 7-2 vote wound up being rescinded in the face of a referendum campaign that gathered twice as many petition signatures than needed to force a re-work, or a citywide ballot measure.
For several years, One Paseo has been an issue that resonated far beyond its epicenter east of Interstate 5 in Carmel Valley to Del Mar and neighborhoods east along Highway 56.
While traffic volume projections have been cut nearly in half, what remains is still too much for remaining critics.
"Planning your whole schedule around the fairgrounds, the county fair, the racetrack -- that's great, we'll live with it,” Dennis Green, a Carmel Valley resident and former NFL coach told the Council during an afternoon meeting in the Civic Center’s Golden Hall. “But I think that an additional center this size, in this location? Very bad deal."
In an interview with NBC 7 Andrea Mintz said: "They're saying that CalTrans might do this, and we're going to contribute money to that, and we're going to put in synchronized traffic lights. But that doesn't really address the problem that you find in Carmel Valley. If you've ever driven down Del Mar Heights Road you know how impacted it is."
The 24-acre site is across El Camino Real from the Del Mar Highlands Center.
In the smaller re-design offered by the developer, Kilroy Realty, retail space was reduced by almost two-thirds, and office space by close to half.
Early opponents and the Highlands Center objected to an original plan that was twice what the zoning allowed.
Their referendum drive confronted the Council with a choice between a citywide election measure -- or a do-over process.
That wound up in Kilroy’s smaller building heights, with greater "setbacks" from the streets, and a housing "element" of 608 condominium units.
"I think it fits the community more,” said Kilroy spokeswoman Rachel Laing. "And it would surprise you how many people really want to see the homes built. People want to downsize. They've raised their families, they've got this five-bedroom home, just a couple living in it. They want to move to those homes, so there's actually a lot of support for everything going in there."
But there's still a pocket of opponents who feel they compromise is unworthy, if not legally suspect.
"I've heard other people say that the environmental impact report really needed to be redone, based on the new numbers -- and that was never done,” Mintz said. “But you know, this is a case of fighting city hall. I'm just going to fight as long as I can but I don't know where it's going to lead."
The lone dissenting vote on the project was cast by Council President Sherrie Lightner, whose 1st District encompasses the site.
That was after Kilroy executives declined her invitation to boost the affordable housing ratio from 10 percent of the units to 20 percent.