When it comes to increased fire-response times as a result of a proposed development in Carmel Valley, according to Dennis Ridz, the city's thought process appears to be, “Oh, well. Service is poor throughout the city, your area is no worse. Stop shouting for help.”
Ridz is a resident and planning-group member for the adjacent community of Torrey Pines.
Opposition to One Paseo — the 1.4-million-square-foot mixed-use development proposal on a 23-acre plot located at the corner of Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real — began not long after plans from Kilroy Realty were unveiled in late 2012. Residents believe the development, meant to serve as a main street for the small residential community, will deliver more traffic, which in turn will increase response times for emergency crews to surrounding areas.
Fire chief Javier Mainar admits that the development will add strain to an already stretched department.
"Current response times do not meet the city standard and it is expected that not all traffic impacts associated with the project will be mitigated," reads an April 14 report from Mainar to the city's chief operating officer, Scott Chadwick.
But there is a bright side, at least for the developer. "However, while falling short of the city's response time goal, the response times in this community are consistent with response times in other communities due primarily to lack of enough fire resources distributed throughout the city to meet this goal."
Another issue facing the fire department and residents living around One Paseo is that even if Kilroy planned to address increased traffic and ways to reduce response times, Caltrans gets the final say, adding yet another obstacle.
Residents such as Ridz aren't buying Mainar's statement that because response times are already slower than desired it makes unmitigated impacts resulting from One Paseo bearable.
"The fire chief's memo is very well crafted to be 'politically' correct," Ridz stated. Instead, the volunteer planner says the city should be asking: “How is the applicant going to help the fire/emergency vehicle to get around traffic that is at a standstill?"
"Five minutes is the national standard needed to save folks from heart attack or stroke," says Ridz. "Every minute over that shows a 15 [percent] reduction in the survival rate. I recommended that an emergency vehicle be stationed within Torrey Pines until such time as the I-5 mitigation measures are installed and proven effective."
Traffic, response times, and other concerns are bound to surface in the final environmental impact report as well as during upcoming hearings by the planning commission and city council.