Councilmember Lightner mum on One Paseo development

Neighbors say public safety will be impacted by massive development

Architectural rendering of One Paseo's buildings along "Main Street"
  • Architectural rendering of One Paseo's buildings along "Main Street"

Up until now, the battle over One Paseo, the 1.4-million-square-foot mixed-use development proposal, has been fought in Carmel Valley. Residents there claim cramming the super-sized project on 23 acres of land will clog nearby streets and change the landscape of the surrounding residential neighborhoods. But, according to residents in other communities, the impacts will not be confined to Carmel Valley.

Residents in the surrounding neighborhood of Torrey Pines worry One Paseo will place a burden on public safety by increasing response times for fire and emergency vehicles that travel along Del Mar Heights Road, the main thoroughfare between One Paseo and Fire Station 24, which serves portions of Torrey Pines.

Sherri Lightner

Sherri Lightner

Chair of the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board, Dennis Ridz, says few have been willing to listen to his planning group's concerns. For months, residents and planning-group members have asked council representative Sherri Lightner to address their concerns. Up until now, Lightner has been silent on the issue.

Lightner's office says the councilmember is prohibited from stating her position on One Paseo before any upcoming vote.

Planning-group members say they don't want Lightner to reveal her position — they want her to make sure the development won't put any undue burdens on public safety; they said as much in a December 14 letter to Lightner's office.

"Council Policy 600-24 severely limits the ability of a community planning board in directly communicating with other city officials such as the City Attorney’s staff, Mayor, or Development Services staff involved in writing the One Paseo [draft environmental impact report]. [Developer Kilroy Realty] has taken the tack that the Torrey Pines community has no say in this One Paseo issue and that only Carmel Valley’s planning board has a vote. We have been told that we must direct requests for information/action via your office," reads the planning group's letter.

"There is the rub. You are the voice for our community but cannot represent us on this issue. Our community’s public health and safety is at risk and we have no one at City Hall to voice our concerns and take action. We have been disenfranchised."

Ridz says instead of relying on the city to ensure their safety, they have been forced to go it alone.

"I have been working with Captain Stacy Silverwood, former head of Station 24, and he has passed on all our comments…. It was the effort of the Torrey Pines community that got the fire department involved, not Sherri Lightner. Councilmember Lightner could have questioned why is there no detailed response times included in [the draft environmental impact report] for [County Area 17]. She did not! Why must a community board do her work!"

Ridz says Lightner, Kilroy Realty, and the Development Services Department are all unwilling to discuss any alternatives to the community to the current project,

"Yes, there have been several meetings about One Paseo," writes Ridz in a January email, "but Kilroy and Development Services refused to present the [draft environmental impact report] alternatives, which include 'Reduce Main Street' and two other smaller alternatives that Kilroy dismissed out-of-hand. Therefore, there has never been a 'public forum' on the 'Reduced Main Street' which appears to be the preferred alternative. This is a CEQA issue!"

Despite their concerns, Lightner's spokespeople say the councilmember's hands are tied.

"The Fire-Rescue Department is working with the Development Services Department to review and address public safety concerns that have been raised by the community," writes Lightner spokesperson Jill Esterbrooks.

"When it is released, the Final Environmental Impact Report for the project will include responses to all questions and concerns submitted during the public comment period, including those related to public safety. Councilmember Lightner will be reviewing all studies, reports, the city’s responses to public comments in the Final Environmental Impact Report, and input from the community for this project prior to casting her vote."

As to Ridz’s claims that Lightner has had a hands-off approach, Esterbrooks says that is not true.

"Councilmember Lightner has met with representatives from Kilroy several times and relayed a variety of concerns raised by her constituents. Kilroy is aware of the concerns of the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board. All of the surrounding communities have been invited to several well-publicized public community meetings on One Paseo. Councilmember Lightner used her own office funds to secure larger venues for these meetings in order to accommodate all residents in the surrounding communities, and she is constantly inviting comments, questions, and concerns regarding One Paseo from her constituents."

One Paseo is expected to head to the planning commission and then on to city council in coming months.


Councilmember Sherri Lightner's Campaign Receives Thousands From One Paseo Developer

Carmel Valley Planning Group to Discuss One Paseo Mixed-Use Project

Kilroy Realty throws one-million dollars at city lobbyists to help with permits for One Paseo

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Her hands are tied? Campaign financing has now become rope that binds wrists? No, Lightner's dilemma is trying to pay off her backers without alienating the neighborhood. Hey, Sherri, it can't be done, and if you keep this up, you may lose the developer money and the votes, too. They never said it was easy to be a local politician in San Diego.

Sherri "Mum on Everything" Lightner will be termed out after this round of "service" on City Council, and a good thing too. She barricades herself behind a wall of know-nothing staff and now seems even to have a "spokesperson!" The only thing Lightner openly opposes is having the Hillel Center built up on a vacant lot near UCSD in the Shores region where she lives. Lightner is a huge disappointment to community members who once relied on their City Council representative for information, mediation or advocacy. Better representation of neighborhoods was the rationale for district elections of City Council over citywide elections twenty-five years ago. I guess every "reform" has a downside.

Builders are building everywhere. Investors are investing. Politicians get funded by contributors. This is the San Diego way. This is everywhere, not just One Paseo. I was just in Kensington. Looked like the North side of Adams Avenue (except for one block, which had already been mixed-usified) had been totally torn down. Now Kensington can look like One Paseo. We won't know what is what anymore.

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