SAN DIEGO - San Diego Mayor Bob Filner made a surprise visit at a Carmel Valley Planning Board meeting Thursday and riled up more than 400 attendees, many who were opposed to a pending 23-acre development project.
"Does this erode the quality of life in this community? I think it does," said Filner as the crowd cheered.
"And I just heard the end of … whatever … who said they respect the community, who then starts off with four times what the community plan says, I don't know how you start with that," said Filner.
During the meeting, Kilroy Realty presented a scaled-back version the One Paseo project.
"It's been reduced numerous times for a total of 30 percent since we began," said Bob Little of Kilroy Realty.
Little said that's the result of listening to concerns about traffic congestion. Kilroy also axed a hotel that was part of the original plan and scaled back office space.
The mixed-use development will be located at Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real. It will feature popular stores like Trader Joes, a movie theater and restaurants. It will also have offices and 600 residential units. The new version is smaller than what the developer originally wanted.
But Filner and the residents said Thursday that the new plan is still too big.
"If you're allowed 500,000 square feet of development and you start off with 2 million … that's 4 times too big," Filner said.
The land has been undeveloped for nearly 30 years and Carmel Valley has changed over the years. Proponents of the project said Filner is living in the past.
"To look at a plan that was approved, I don't know how many years ago, for the character of Carmel Valley, and use that plan in 2013 terms… is probably not really reasonable," said Dawn Norman, a proponent of One Paseo.
Many Carmel Valley residents, including Mary Lenihan, said traffic has been the biggest concern about the project.
"It's already jam-packed on Del Mar Heights Road," said Lenihan. "I know a lot of people who are talking about moving because of [One Paseo]. They don't want to live here if it's going to be that crazy."
Kilroy said it is willing to spend up to $6 million to add traffic lights and find other traffic solutions.
Carmel Valley Planning Board member Debbie Lokanc said the board wants to protect the rights of the developers and the interests of all in Carmel Valley.
"You want to create places that are walkable, and it feels like a town center without causing tremendous gridlock where people go," said Lokanc.
One Paseo does not need approval from the Carmel Valley Planning Board, but many felt it was a good idea to have community support since those are the people who'd be shopping there.
The San Diego City Council will have the final say on the project.
The developers said they hope to break ground in 2013, and some tenants -- including Trader Joe's -- have already been signed.