San Diego City Council Approves One Paseo Project

one paseo city council meeting
Monica Dean

In front of a packed house, the San Diego City Council approved a controversial mixed-use project in Carmel Valley after hours of public comments.

The One Paseo Project includes the construction of stores and eateries, the expansion of a movie theater and the addition of more than 600 family apartments and a parking structure in Carmel Valley.

The San Diego Planning Commission approved the proposal for the $750 million, 1.4 million square-foot, mixed-use village slated for the corner of Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real. The panel agreed to the plan on the condition that developer Kilroy Realty agreed to make 11 changes to the master plan.

On Monday night, the San Diego City Council approved the plan 7-2, though they did say Kilroy must add 60 affordable housing units and a sychronized traffic system. Council President Sherri Lightner and Council President Pro Tem Marti Emerald were the dissenting votes.

Hundreds showed up Monday to hear the debate at council chambers -- so many that Golden Hall had to be used as an overflow area. About 600 people signed up to speak on the issue, many wearing red shirts to show their opposition to One Paseo.

The Carmel Valley Planning Board voted against the current proposal but its members have said they support a smaller version of the plan.

Opponents say the project is too big and would create a traffic nightmare.

"This is really a terrible model for the city of San Diego," said Ken Farinsky with "What Price Main Street," a group organized to oppose the project.  "You're building high density shopping malls and calling them smart growth, and if this is the model for the city of villages, I think San Diego is in deep trouble."

Council President Lightner said the project is three times too big for its site.

"I am discouraged by today’s outcome, as I strongly oppose the One Paseo Project as proposed, or even with the minor modifications requested tonight," Lightner said in a statement. "The current project has too many significant impacts to the surrounding community, including traffic, parking, public safety, and community character."

However, supporters say the development would be a positive addition to the area, bringing 1,600 new jobs, 600 news homes and $630 million to the local economy.

The developer said there has been plenty of compromise. Plus, they plan to pay for $6 million in road improvements and projects that aim to improve travel times.

"It's basically a complete neighborhood, and it's a town center for Carmel Valley, something they don't have right now," said Rachel Laing, a Kilroy Realty spokeswoman. "They don't have anywhere to go and hang out, and we're offering all of those benefits."

Carmel Valley resident Jannette Littler said she thinks fear is a strong motivator, and many of her neighbors are afraid the community they love will be different.

"I cannot tell you how gratified I am this beautiful mixed use project is coming to my neighborhood," she said.

If all goes as planned, Kilroy Realty will break ground by the end of the year. Its completion date is set for 2018.

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