Archives: Current Issues

flower hill
Please note that some of the entries on this page were carried over from 2010.

Flower Hill expansion will proceed

posted 09/09/11

The California Coastal Commission, meeting in Crescent City, voted 8-4 to drop its claim for jurisdiction over the Flower Hill expansion project. The CCC staff has been contending, since 2006, that the City of San Diego did not have the authority to approve the addition of a 35,000 sq.ft Whole Foods market, 25,000 sq.ft office space, 8,700 sq.ft of retail and a four level garage  built into the hillside.

Construction began in spite of the possibility of a large fine from the CCC since the Whole Foods contract has a deadline for completion. 

CCC staff argued that Flower Hill was not part of a San Diego coastal development plan used since the 1970's. The CCC majority said several maps need to be updated and the Flower Hill developers should not be penalized for this. The minority apparently agreed with the many local residents and planning groups which feel that this will set a precedent for more development in the area. It will also have several unmitigable impacts on traffic and other environmental factors especially if the Fairgrounds implements its Master Plan.

Meanwhile the demolition of the only local movie theatre to make room for Whole Foods is a real loss to the community.

<<Flower Hill Jurisdiction fight continues

posted 08/30/11

The Coastal Commission and the City of San Diego both claim jurisdiction over the Flower Hill property which is currently under development by Protea Properties in spite of a stop work order.

The CCC staff has determined that:

"The site is within the portion of the San Dieguito River Valley where certification was deferred and permit authority did not transfer to the City in October 1988 when the City of San Diego LCP was initially certified. Documents referred to in this staff report clearly show the subject site, which is within the portion of the San Dieguito River Valley outside the North City West (NCW) Community Plan boundaries, was not part of the
North City LCP Land Use Plan, as submitted by the City in 1981, 1985 and resubmitted in 1988, because it is not within the boundaries of any community planning area.   The fact that the site is not within the boundaries of any community planning areas is not disputed by the City."

In the meantime, the Flower Hill movie theatre is gone and the hillside behind is being sculpted for a four-story parking structure and the Market, despite a warning that continued work could result in a $15,000 a day penalty for proceeding without the Permit. Protea Holdings plans to continue construction in order to meet their time commitment with Whole Foods. In the meantime City and San Diego Commission staffs continue to meet in an effort to resolve the issue. If there is no resolution at the local staff level, the dispute could go the full Commission, an independent, quasi-judicial state agency appointed by the Governor, the Senate Rues Committee and Speaker of the Assembly, for a decision. The next Commission meeting is scheduled for September 7-9 in Crescent City.
In other action, San Diego Superior Court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Citizens for the Excessive Expansion of Flower Hill who claimed that the Environmental Impact Report for the expansion was inadequate given the mall’s location next to the coastal wetlands.

(Photo and some text courtesy of Del Mar Sandpiper and Ann Gardner)

<<Coastal Commission Issues Notice of Violation 

posted 07/29/11

The California Coastal Commission posted a notice of violation of the Coastal Act claiming that the developers of the Flower Hill Promenade do not have a Coastal Development Permit. Work has already started with the closure of the cinema, substantial grading of a hillside, removal of trees. They must stop work or incur fines of $15,000 a day. The developer has a work permit from the City of San Diego which claims jurisdiction over the property. It is on the edge of Solana Beach, technically in San Diego and is advertised as being in Del Mar. 

<<Movie theatre to Whole Foods Market

posted 06/27/11

The Flower Hill movie theatre will close after 30 years in business. It will be replaced by a Whole Foods market as part of the extensive renovation of the whole mall.

Construction is proceeding in spite of a legal challenge from the Citizens Against Flower Hill’s Excessive Expansion and a dispute with the Coastal Commission. The project was approved by the San Diego City Council in 2011 after seven years of planning and community discussions.

The shopping centre on Via de la Valle is advertised as being in Del Mar but it is technically in San Diego and Solana Beach will absorb much of the impact of the extension.


posted 05/08/11

The planned expansion of Flower Hill Promenade may be delayed by a disagreement between the CIty of San Diego and the California Coastal Commission. The latter considers itself to be the agency responsible for permitting the work but the San Diego City Council  gave final approval in April. The center is in San Diego but its impacts are felt mostly in Solana Beach and Del Mar. After 6 years of planning and EIR preparation the project was scaled back but some of the concerns of residents were deemed to be unmitigable.

The CCC claims that the city's north regional coastal development plan does not include the Flower Hill property. San Diego claims that the plan gives it authority to approve the project. It is interesting that Flower Hill is advertised as being in Del Mar.

Stay tuned!


posted 03/03/11

Photo Art Olson

The Final EIR for the Flower Hill Expansion Project has been circulated and will be reviewed by the City of San Diego Planning Commission on March 10. The Candidate Findings and Statement of Overriding Considerations state the intention "to approve the project despite the unmitigated effects identified within the EIR."

San Diego Development Services is not recommending that the city adopt or reject these findings, only letting it be known that the applicant is submitting such findings to the Planning Commission. Solana Beach has submitted lengthy comments to both the original and re-circulated drafts which call for replacing the 14,000 sq. ft. movie theatre on Via de la Valle with a 60,000 plus sq. ft. market/retail/office building and a four level parking garage.

The Friends of the SD River Valley commented on the original draft only and is currently reviewing the responses to our comments as well as the Statement of Overriding Considerations related to the identified unmitigated effects of the project.

If the Final EIR and expansion project is approved by the Planning Commission on March 10, it will go to the San Diego City Council for a final review.

by Ann Gardner

posted 12.11.10

Elevation from the Draft EIR


A second Draft EIR for the Flower Hill Shopping Mall expansion project is now being circulated with a January 11, 2011 deadline for responses regarding the adequacy of the document.  In reaction to community input earlier this year, the applicant modified the original DEIR in order to retain Flower Hill Drive in its present location and provide “up to a 3.8 million” dollars toward the improvement/widening of Via de la Valle east of San Andres Drive.

The expansion would eliminate the existing theatre and construct in its place a 35,000 sq. ft. Whole Foods Market on the first floor and about 30,000 sq. ft. of office space on the second level.  A three story, four level parking structure providing parking for almost 400 cars, would be built behind the new, almost 40-foot high retail/office structure. 

Residents to the north objected to a proposed realignment of Flower Hill Drive but otherwise approved the project after some reduction in size and mature landscaping elements were added to the plans.  The Carmel Valley Planning Board has also given preliminary approval based on those changes plus some style redesign to downplay the square block look of the façade that will now include balconies. The Board has also informed the City that, based on the shopping center’s proximity to the San Dieguito River Park, allowable square footage for the 15-acre site, must be reviewed and reduced.  “Support for this…project does not imply that the Board will support further densification or improvements.”

The recirculated DEIR is available for review at the Carmel Valley Library and comments regarding adequacy of the document are welcomed and accepted by the City of San Diego until January 11.  The Draft notes that the increase in traffic and impact on circulation is significant and cannot be mitigated unless Via de la Valle is widened, from two lanes to four lanes with a median, east of San Andres Drive. Mitigation can be accomplished with the project contributing “up to” 3.8 million dollars toward the widening “prior to issuance of the first construction permit,” but would still require occupancy of new retail space “delayed until improvements to Via de la Valle are initiated.”


<< Flower Hill  Expansion

posted 05/05/2010

Flower Hill Promenade is now proceeding with its planned project to, we believe, excessively expand the shopping center.  They have just completed their Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR).  The complete DEIR report can be viewed at the Carmel Valley Public Library or online at:

An online petition, sponsored by the "Citizens Against Flower Hill Promenade's Excessive Expansion," is also available for your review and signature opposing the  project based on its significant impact on the Del Mar/Solana Beach/San Diego area as well as the San Dieguito River Valley and Park.  To sign the petition go to:

For further reading click HERE to go to Ann Gardner's piece about the Flower Hill expansion project, printed in the May 2010 Issue of the Sandpiper.