The cost incurred by the City of San Diego over the proposed mixed-use development in Carmel Valley, One Paseo, is increasing. The city has been slapped with a third lawsuit over the now-overturned development.
On April 24, San Diego's city clerk validated a referendum drive to negate the city council's approval and send the proposal to the ballot.
The latest lawsuit, filed on April 24 by One Paseo's Kilroy Realty, claims the city violated environmental laws by approving an expansion of the shopping center across the street. It is the second lawsuit that Kilroy has filed against the city and Donahue Schriber, the company that owns the shopping center. A previous lawsuit claimed the city was allowing Donahue Schriber to skirt environmental review of their expansion by dissecting the proposal and using a piecemeal approach.
Donahue Schriber and Kilroy have grappled over the latter’s plans to develop the 26-acre site on Del Mar Heights Road and El Camino Real, which, if voters approve the project, will bring to fruition over 1.5 million square feet of residential, retail, and commercial space.
Kilroy and local lobbyists have accused local grassroots groups who have fought hard against One Paseo of being a shill for Donahue Schriber. On the other side, Donahue Schriber has spent over a million dollars on PR campaigns and lobbyists to convince the council to reject the project.
On February 23, the city council, in a 7-2 vote, approved the project. Residents, with help from Donahue Schriber, launched a referendum drive to force the council to put the proposal on the ballot.
Now, Kilroy is striking back, ostensibly looking to delay Donahue Schriber's plans to expand in order to buy time until One Paseo appears on the ballot. Again, Kilroy finds fault with the city's handling of what will be a nearly 200,000-square-foot expansion of the large shopping center.
"[Donahue Schriber] proposed to accomplish these significant changes through a supposedly ministerial, non-public process," reads the April 24 lawsuit. "The City approved the project changes thereby allowing [Donahue Schriber] to deviate substantially from the original discretionary project entitlements and permit conditions without public notice, hearing or environmental review in violation of state and local law."
City planners first approved Donahue Schriber's plans to build a shopping center in 1986. At the time, the proposed project consisted of 425,575 square feet of retail space and included a parking garage. A transit terminal was also required to offset traffic impacts. During the following 30 years, Donahue Schriber built over 273,000 square feet of space and failed to construct the parking garage and transit center.
In March of last year, Donahue Schriber submitted changes to the unbuilt portion of their proposal, requesting to build an additional 78,627 square feet of retail space. Again missing from the proposal were specific plans for a parking garage. And, instead of building a dedicated transit center, Donahue Schriber proposed installing two bus lanes — transit was one of many issues raised by One Paseo opponents in recent years.
Reads the lawsuit: "Here, having successfully deferred mitigation regarding traffic and transportation impacts for nearly 30 years, [Donahue Schriber] seeks quietly to kill it through the [conformance reviews], an environmental decision 'made outside an arena where public officials are accountable' and therefore contrary to the law...[Donahue Schriber] has not offered any justification for the failure to mitigate impacts identified as significant by its own environmental clearance.
“Moreover, the presentation and consideration of such evidence must occur within the ambit of a subsequent [environmental impact report], not a nebulous and opaque process somewhere behind closed doors and far removed from any public oversight."
Kilroy is asking that a judge order the city to rescind the approved changes.