In his commentary for Voice of San Diego, “One Paseo Would Set an Ugly Precedent,” Bill Chatwell asks:

“Can this take-no-prisoners approach really work? Can a developer identify a plot of land, propose whatever it wants regardless of land use restrictions, dismiss the concerns of thousands of area residents and receive a project greenlight?”

The answer is the elephant in the room: Yes.

Absent a comprehensive community plan update for Carmel Valley, current city planners will allow One Paseo to break with current land use restrictions, dismiss the concerns of thousands of area residents and issue a project approval in order to obtain only one of the goals of the regional, general, or local community plans — high density.

READ MORE: All the Fuss About One Paseo in One Placeo

One Paseo is not at all the model community set forth in the visions and goals of our general plan that city planners should be looking well to observe.

What is a model community?

A model community is one in which all of the goals of the general plan, and hence, local community plans, are given equal implementation in a balanced approach to development of the complete community. A balanced approach prevents implementation of a single goal to the exclusion of others that are equally important.

Only one segment of the community benefits when a single goal dominates the others. For exampleonly developers benefit when green building practices or mitigation of traffic and parking impact are sacrificed in the name of higher density. How do these other goals get sacrificed? They are spoken about, promised even, but never codified or realized.

Increasing maximum building heights, up-zoning for more density or changing land use restrictions must be accompanied by building code changes that implement all of the “green” in the general plan.

The city of San Diego can afford to kick all of the other plan elements down the road on the promise that some future generation will implement them in order to get the property tax base high density brings today. But can the community afford it?

Becoming a so-called model community will require action by residents in every community to ensure all plan goals are implemented fairly and equally. Residents get the chance to ensure this fair process happens when each community updates its comprehensive plan. 

Unfortunately, when a single interest tries to change a community plan prior to that comprehensive update, the community can suffer, and the ugly precedent is set.

I would love to think that One Paseo, if approved in its current form, would be like Vegas — what happens there stays there. The history of building code variances proves it won’t.

Our communities throughout the county are in grave jeopardy of never seeing the important goals of the regional and general plans realized if we don’t demand that project approvals like One Paseo are suspended temporarily until community plan updates are completed.

The City Council needs to step up and suspend a final vote on One Paseo until a comprehensive plan update is completed for all of Carmel Valley.

James LaMattery is a residential real estate broker, community organizer and member of Raise The Balloon. LaMattery’s commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

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