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San Diego’s Development Services Department is asking the developer, Kilroy Realty, to resubmit its formal review of the project’s environmental effects, said Frisco White, chairman of the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board. White plans to announce the request tonight at the board’s May meeting.
It’s unclear what changes city planners have requested, how long it will take Kilroy to resubmit and what effect those changes and the delay will have on the project’s scale or viability.
Once Kilroy submits a new environmental review, the public will have 45 days to look it over and submit responses. The initial public review is scheduled to end on May 29.
So far, opposition within the community has come down to two complaints that haunt virtually any new development: traffic and density.
Since the property is currently zoned to allow for just 500,000 square feet of office space, Kilroy has been forced to seek an amendment to the existing land use plan to make way for its desired 1.4 million square feet of office, retail and housing.
But project opponents secured an influential ally earlier this year when Mayor Bob Filner showed up to the planning board’s January meeting and panned the project, saying he couldn’t believe the size of Kilroy’s initial proposal.
“I didn’t understand how anybody who said they respect the community starts off with four times what the community plan says. I don’t understand how you start with that,” Filner said. “The community was a contract, as far as I could see. And we spent a lot of time on it. People put their heart and soul into it, I’m sure. Once something is there, there has to be a pretty good reason to have a massive amendment, like you all are proposing.”
And while Filner doesn’t have a direct role in approving the project — since land use decisions by the City Council aren’t subject to mayoral veto — he certainly can exert influence in other ways.
Under the city’s strong mayor form of governance, the Development Services Department reports to the mayor. So if the mayor, for instance, thinks the project’s environmental review is inadequate, he can instruct city planners to request changes from the applicant.
Filner’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment, or to a request to interview the city project manager assigned to One Paseo, Renee Mezo.
A Kilroy executive and consultants hired to work on the project also didn’t respond to requests.
The planning board in the past has asked for a less dense development alternative proposal. The board’s March meeting also centered on the traffic study included in the plan’s initial review.
Once public comment on the environmental document wraps, the planning board will vote on whether to recommend the project to the city’s planning commission.
Then the planning commission will decide whether to recommend the project to the City Council. Then the Council will make a final decision.
Recirculating the environmental review will delay that process at least another month and a half. Whether it does more than that depends on the specific request made by Development Services, which hasn’t yet been made public.
“I thought we might be getting to it this summer, but that doesn’t seem likely anymore,” White said. “Hopefully we’ll all find out what’s happening from (Development Services) soon.”