Archives: Current Issues 2006

Three Via de la Valle projects that the Friends are monitoring:

     * Via de la Valle widening
     * Flower Hill Mall
     * Pueblo de la Valle

The Carmel Valley Planning Board and San Dieguito River Park staff has already voiced their concerns about the Via de la Valle Widening Project. Worries about encroachment upon environmentally sensitive land and changing the road from a semi-rural setting to an urban commercial corridor are at the heart the issue.

“This segment of Via de la Valle forms the gateway into the western river valley and is directly adjacent to the San Dieguito Lagoon Wetland Restoration Project,” a River Park letter states. “The street improvements proposed are not suitable for a road directly adjacent to such a valuable natural and aesthetic resource. To partially mitigate impacts associated with this permanent change to the community character, the (project) should include the following measures:

     1. Reduce and landscape medians.

     2. Proposed “shotcrete” finish retaining walls are incompatible
         with surrounding natural or rural environment.

     3. Existing transmission lines along Via de la Valley should
         be undergrounded as required in subdivision projects.”

Finally the staff questioned the logic of widening the road for approximately one mile when Via de la Valle would narrow to two lanes again, east of the proposed project. The Carmel Valley Planning Board rejected the idea of four lanes, period. The chair, Frisco White, was quoted as saying “ We should not widen Via de la Valle. This isn't a freeway.”

While congestion is the rationale for widening the road, additional development that will only increase traffic and congestion continues to be proposed.


New owners of the mall want to double, in fact more than double, the size of the mall. The mall is inside the “planning area” of the River Valley Park and is subject to its design and development standards. Those standards are meant to ensure “retention of the largely rural character of the planning area and (would) limit the visual and physical encroachment of development” on the River Valley.

It is hard to imagine the Flower Hill Shopping Mall doubling in size without violating the goals and objectives of the River Valley Park. Expansion pressures from both the Flower Hill Mall and the Fairgrounds/Racetrack could easily result in catastrophic visual and traffic blight on both sides of the freeway, adjacent to the Lagoon Restoration Project and to the gateway River Park Interpretive Center.

Some musts for any development in the area were recently suggested in an Open Letter from an adjacent homeowner:

     1. Do not allow development on the hillside north of Flower Hill
         Mall in order to preserve the Valley view corridor from I-5.

     2. Restrict building heights in accordance with Coastal 
         Commission regulations.

     3. Preserve mature trees.

     4. Restrict lighting to protect integrity of non-commercial areas
         including private residences and San Dieguito Lagoon.

     5. Disallow inappropriate signage including neon tube advertising.

The shopping center property is within the boundaries of the City of San Diego and the Carmel Valley Planning Board will review the project initially. We will keep you informed. In the meantime, a non-profit community group has organized to oppose the “aggressive expansion” of Flower Hill Mall. You can get additional information and contact the group at:


A new 35-unit residential development is proposed for the sloped area on the north side of Via de la Valle east of the Flower Hill Mall. For pictures and complete information please see our May Valley Alert. The Friends continue to advocate that the project should: eliminate five units, increase the use of berms and landscaping to shield development from the River Valley, restrict lighting and utilize architectural design that blends with the environment.

Ann Gardner