Controversial North County development moves closer to approval

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- A commercial development is closer to becoming a reality after the San Diego Planning Commission unanimously approved the plan during a meeting Thursday.

The proposed development is called The Preserve at Torrey Highlands -- a 450,000 square-foot, 11-acre campus with three commercial buildings and a parking structure that would stand just south of State Route 56, near a planned extension for Camino Del Sur.

"This milestone brings us one step closer to delivering a high-tech employment center that will complete the vision of a decade's worth of planning," said David Dick, a development partner.

But many voiced their opposition to the project. “(It's) a bulk in scale that’s absolutely unnecessary and inconsistent with the community plans – with what the community wants," said Darshana Patel with the Rancho Penasquitos Planning Board, which voted against the project earlier this year.

But last year, the same group voted for Merge 56 – a 72-acre mixed-use project set for right next door, on the other side of the Camino Del Sur extension.

“They’re mixed-use – it’s retail, it’s housing. They’ve got affordable housing in there," said Patel, focusing on what she believes is a key difference from The Preserve at Torrey Highlands.

“San Diego affordable housing has become a huge issue. If you’re going to bring in these rockstar companies -- like the developer believes -- none of these houses are going to be affordable. We’re basically transporting San Francisco’s problems to our backyard," said Patel.

The issue will next go before the full City Council.

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