Decision on Cardiff post office project postponed to November

Encinitas sign
Encinitas sign welcomes visitors downtown
(Charlie Neuman)

Planning Commission asks developer to modify plan


A proposal to transform the old Cardiff Post Office property into a long row of offices and retail shops, which opponents describe as “two giant buildings,” has its good points, but needs tweaking, the Planning Commission decided last week.

Commissioners then voted to continue debating the item at their Nov. 5 meeting, and directed the project’s developers, Cartega International, Inc., to use the intervening time to rework the plans. The commissioners asked for changes to the roof line, the creation of walk-through spaces between the buildings and more variety in the proposed vegetation, among other things.

Chairman Bruce Ehlers said he felt the current development proposal mostly would comply with the Cardiff Specific Plan, which is a city document that guides development in the downtown Cardiff area, but said the developers need to make some modifications. He also said that he would continue to take public comment on the item on Nov. 5.

“This will give the neighbors a chance to speak again,” he said.

The project’s developers are proposing to demolish the now-vacant postal building, as well as an office building and a shed on the property, which is in the 2000 block of Newcastle Avenue. Those buildings would be replaced with two two-story buildings that have a total square footage of 18,039. Both underground and above-ground parking are planned.

Craig Carlson, the representative for the developers, stressed that many of the people involved with the project live in Cardiff and want to preserve its character, while the architect said his design for the front side of the complex created “sort of musical rhythm” with elements that stick out and elements that are recessed to create visual interest.

“There’s a happy medium here and I thought this was a happy medium,” Architect Tom McCabe said as he discussed his proposed design.

People who live near the proposed project sharply disagreed with this assessment, saying that the development proposal would create two “giant” buildings that look like one huge structure and block neighboring views.

“This is massive; it’s two buildings joined together that look like one,” neighboring resident Darren Quinn said.

Fellow neighboring resident William Lawson said he knows “that change is inevitable” and the developers have a right to build on their property, but said the proposal looks like a mall.

“This to me seems like just about the biggest project we’ve had in Cardiff in 30 years,” he said. “I think the scale is just too big for Cardiff.”

— Barbara Henry is a freelance writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune