Neighbors Balk as Villas de Carmelo Heads to Planning Commission
June 22, 2011
A proposed housing development at the site of the old Carmel Convalescent Hospital is back for another round of scrutiny.
The Villas de Carmelo project would put 46 condos in 10 buildings at the intersection of Valley Way and Highway 1, just outside the border of Carmel-by-the-Sea. On June 29, the county Planning Commission will consider certifying the final environmental impact report and making a recommendation on the project, which would require a higher-density zoning change.
But neighbors with the Save Our Carmel Neighborhoods Coalition are hell-bent against it. “This is the working-class neighborhood of Carmel,” says coalition member Myrna Hampton, a teacher who lives next to the site. “We’re not NIMBYs rollin’ in the dough.”
She ticks off some of her main beefs with the project: The narrow streets can’t handle more traffic, the proposed payment to the county in lieu of workforce housing is unfair, all but 23 of the property’s 127 trees would be cut, the slopes are too steep for construction, and the project’s two-to-three-story buildings would tower over the quaint neighborhood.
“It’s like trying to build Manhattan here," she says.
Kevin Kane, development manager for the New York-based Widewaters Group, has an answer to each of her respective concerns: The traffic will be less than in the hospital’s heyday, the roughly $2.5 million in-lieu payment is appropriate, the existing trees are mostly dying Monterey pines, some of the steep slopes are man-made, and the building heights are consistent with the surrounding houses.
“The project is a perfect example of smart growth,” he says. “The site is already a fully developed property that is just going to be repositioned.”
Even if the project scores a thumbs-up from the Planning Commission, it will still need a coastal development permit and Board of Supervisors approval.
“This is the very beginning stage,” County Associate Planner Liz Gonzales says. “Things may change.”