One Paseo--Good News!
|Councilmember Terry Sinnott and I spoke before the San Diego City Council, urging repeal of the One Paseo project approval.
The San Diego City Council's approval of One Paseo, the giant 1.4 million square foot mixed use shopping center, has been REPEALED and sent back to the drawing board to flesh out a revised project at half the traffic (14,000 trips per day versus 28,000) and roughly half the size. Great news that!
So, what brought about this positive change? Lawsuits, a successful campaign to qualify a referendum with the prospect of voter rejection of the project, and impressive community opposition from Carmel Valley, Del Mar Heights, Del Mar, and Solana Beach and from 15 planning groups throughout the city. This pushback caused Kilroy and the San Diego City Council to back off their intransigent position favoring the gargantuan project. It seems they figured out: (1) There was a rebellion building steam among planning groups city-wide over One Paseo and the dissing of the community planning process it represented (2) One Paseo was likely to lose a referendum vote (3) the lawsuits were a real threat.
In my judgment, the biggest obstacles to the kind of compromise project that is now forthcoming were Kilroy (the developer) and the San Diego City Council, who passed up many opportunities to work with the community for a reasonable compromise. The community planning groups, Del Mar, and other opponents have long been on record in favor of a properly-scaled mixed-use project.
So, what does this turn of events mean?
* The 1.4 million square foot, 28,000 trip per day project has been repealed by the San Diego City Council--it lives no more!
* The 3 lawsuits challenging the approved project are being dismissed.
* Kilroy will file a revised application for a dramatically scaled back project reducing traffic roughly in half, guaranteeing 30 foot setbacks from major roads, capping building heights at 7 stores (down from 9), eliminating one of two proposed new signalized intersections on Del Mar Heights Rd., but retaining mixed uses of residential (including affordable housing) and commercial.
* The lawsuit groups have agreed not to challenge the revised application, so long as it is in keeping with the traffic reductions and other terms of the settlement agreement.
* The revised project will go through the full, public review process--planning group, Planning Commission, and City Council.
* Del Mar, Solana Beach, community groups and members of the public, other than the litigating parties, are not precluded from critical analysis of, or even challenge to, the revised project. It's important that we retain that right, since the details of the revised project are not yet known -- but hey, the prospect of a half size project is terrific and we owe the litigants, Kilroy, the many involved groups and citizens, and the City of San Diego thanks for making this happen.
* The revised project can probably be processed quickly. If the scaled back project reduces environmental impacts, as it should, the EIR need not be redone. But, keep your eyes peeled and let's all make sure we participate in careful review of the revised project when it is filed to lock down something really good for the community.
|The Design Review Ordinance plays a key role in protecting our community's character. Click on the image above to read the DRO.
Protecting Community Character: A Citizens' Task Force Takes Shape.
One of the highest priorities endorsed by the Del Mar Council, in response to strong community input, is the creation of a citizen task force to review our design review process to better protect the community character we all cherish. Neighbors and applicants alike share frustrations that the process needs to be improved.
Council will be appointing a nine member citizen task force to take on this very important review--identifying the problems and then focusing on potential fixes. The Task Force will look at the design review ordinance and process, zoning, and the development process. The first part of their work plan is to identify the problems. If you are interested in serving on the task force, the city is accepting applications up to June 5. Read about it here.
The community turned out in force for the Plan Your Park event at the Shores.
City Council Goals and Budget
After much discussion, your city council finally approved goals and a budget for the next two years. The budget is balanced with strong reserves (20%+). Big thanks to our great Finance Committee for all its work! You can see the final goals discussion and actions here.
Top priority goals of note include:
* A robust review of the DRB process with an eye to improving community character (addressed above);
* Doubling from $300,00 to $600,000 the amount spent on street repair and paving and allocating ALL of it to residential areas (in prior years substantially all was allocated to main thoroughfares);
* Setting aside funds to address fairgrounds and other summer traffic based on Del Mar owning key streets--Via de la Valle and Jimmy Durante--that "feed" the fairgrounds and routinely become bottlenecks with a big negative impact on Del Mar residents. We'll also be looking at ways to improve the City's ability to address traffic and policing issues in other high impact areas like the beach. We're looking to improve town life on both fronts;
* My proposal to consider a Specific Plan for the North Commercial area--a key gateway to town now comprised of a hodgepodge of old industrial and eclectic commercial uses predating our city's incorporation-- is on the radar and starting to move forward. First step: I will see if there is property owner support. Check out my PowerPoint presentation on the issue and the council discussion here (click on Item 7).
Your input is welcome!
Water and Del Mar
Click on the image for water-wise tips.
Yup, we're in the fourth year of drought and no end in sight. The water planners (County Water Authority, Metropolitan Water District and State Water Resources Board) who control our future supplies have been doing all their planning based on the assumption droughts will not last longer than 3 years. Oops! Some scrambling is now going on, likely to increase if we enter a 5 year or longer drought, which some experts say is likely.
As part of the Governor's recent orders for an overall statewide cutback of 25%, not including agriculture, Del Mar must cut back either 25% OR impose a two day a week outside irrigation rule. The Council elected to adopt the latter (details here). Ironically, the San Diego region has more water coming in than it can use under these cutbacks because it has done better planning for water security than many other areas. This means that the San Diego region will receive more water than it is allowed to use! That excess will go into long term storage--not a bad thing given the shaky water future.
Your Del Mar Council endorsed going to a two day per week irrigation schedule starting June 1, but also set an aspirational goal of cutting back overall water use by 25%, even though our small city is not required to do so. We will be taking a hard look at City use of water, and are hoping you will take a look at your own usage and join us in demonstrating Del Mar can be a leader on this issue consistent with our proud Del Mar tradition of conservation and environmental commitment.
Other water tidbits:
* Council voted to temporarily shut off the beach showers, except for 17th street, as a water saving and educational/symbolic step, asking the thousands of visitors who use our beaches to join us in water conservation.
* Did you know roughly 80% of water used in California is for agriculture?
* Did you know that of the 4.4 million acre feet of water coming to California from the Colorado River each year, roughly 3 million acre feet go to the Imperial Valley for, shall we say, less than ideally efficient farm irrigation?
* Did you know that the County Water Authority cut a deal with the Imperial Valley several years back so that roughly 1 million acre feet of their 3 million now comes to the Water Authority at $600+ per acre foot? Those funds are to be used to improve water management in Imperial Valley and to revitalize the area. But, there may be a kicker--the deal to trade money for water with Imperial Valley required a study and protection of the Salton Sea by 2017. The study was done, coming in at a proposed $9 billion (yikes!). It sits on the shelf unfunded. Our friends in Imperial Valley say failure on this front could be a breach of the deal, and they might try to take their water back.
Dwight's Office Hours--Please Stop By!
I will be holding open office hours on the first Friday of every month from 9:30 am to 11:30 am at the Del Mar Community Building, 225 9th Street. No appointments necessary, simply drop by to share what's on your mind. My next session will be on Friday, June 5, 2015. I hope to see you there.
Got Issues of Concern as Summer Approaches?