The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Op Ed: Oppose High Density Project Proposed in Rancho Santa Fe

A high-density housing project is proposed for the approximate 28 acre site located on the north-east corner of Calzada del Bosque and Via de la Valle. The Mabee “Rancho Liberado” project, consisting of approximately 55 units, is being marked as “step-down housing.” That is not what it is!

The entire parcel is within the Covenant boundaries, with approximately 14 acres subject to the Protective Covenant, with the balance being non-Covenant. The entire site is zoned ‘estate residential’ with the County of San Diego. “Both Covenant and non-Covenant parcels are located in the Association’s and the County’s 2.86 minimum net acre zone except for the non-Covenant APN 268-180-01 which, we have been informed, has a County eight acre minimum lot size requirement…” (RSFA Planning Director in 2003)

A very similar high-density project was proposed, relating to the same site, in the early to mid-2000’s. The Rancho Santa Fe Planning Director in November, 2003 stated: “In order for the applicants to be able to develop the site for senior/”step-down” housing the applicants would have to obtain the separate permissions of both the County and the Association. Failure to obtain the permission of either jurisdiction would result in the failure of the proposal. In the case of differing requirements between the two jurisdictions, the more stringent would apply. As an assertive statement of fact, the failure of the proposed 28 acre project to receive Association support would mean that the project could not be developed, regardless of what the County did.” (Underlining that of Planning Director)

The County of San Diego spent 13 years (commencing in 1998 and culminating in adoption by the Board of Supervisors in August 2011), developing the 2020 General Plan. The 2020 General Plan most recently underwent “cleanup” in 2014. A “cleanup” addresses issues that were missed when the General Plan was adopted. There was nothing in the General Plan that was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in the fall of 2011, or in the “cleanups,” that evidenced any thought of changing the allowable density in the area around Calzada del Bosque, Via de la Valle and/or Via de Santa Fe in Rancho Santa Fe.

The General Plan sets the guiding principles for long-range development planning throughout the unincorporated areas of the County. The General Plan is meant to be dynamic, but should not be amended to allow “spot zoning” for specific properties to accommodate a developers’ desire for more density and increased profit. Allowing such random amendments to the General Plan defeats the purpose of comprehensive long range planning, ignores the input of strategic groups that participated in the planning process and is contrary to the County Board of Supervisors’ “stamp of approval” evidenced in their adopting the General Plan. The Mabee “Rancho Librado” proposal, if adopted, would increase the existing allowable density by many multiples. It would also pave the way for many adjacent property owners and owners of large parcels on Paseo Delicias/Del Dios Highway + others to request a General Plan Amendment too.

One cannot help but ask, why is this project being proposed?

Is it to benefit those individuals who currently reside in the Covenant and surrounding areas, such as Fairbanks Ranch, or is it really only for the purpose of financially benefiting those who are proposing the project, to the great detriment of well-planned communities that have been here for decades?

A representative of the Chino family has indicated the Chinos will not be farming forever. If the General Plan is changed to accommodate the proposed Mabee project, then what about the potential “snowball effect” of properties surrounding the proposed Mabee project—Chinos, the “walnut grove,” the horse ranches on and off of Via de Santa Fe and others? If a General Plan Amendment is allowed for the Mabee property, will a General Plan Amendment, for more high-density housing, be allowed in the vicinity of Del Dios Highway and El Camino del Norte and/or near Solana Beach and/or Encinitas? Will not the “floodgates” be open causing irreparable harm to long-existing, well thought out communities and their residents?

If the project is built, where will the purchasers come from? Will they be current residents of the Covenant or Fairbanks Ranch, or homes for “snowbirds” and individuals coming from the East Coast or Phoenix?

Where in the proponent’s proposal do they address the fact that a significant portion of the Mabee property is in the floodplain? What about the larger 100-year floodplain “footprint”?

Where will the water, in these times of serious water shortages, come from to support all the proposed homes, pools, landscaping and to fill the three depicted lakes for “Rancho Librado”? If well water is a possibility, how long will it take to deplete the aquifer and adversely affect those that already have existing wells upstream?

In the October 20, 2014 memorandum, addressed to the RSFA Board of Directors, the proponents of the Mabee project state, in part: “Preliminary traffic impact findings have determined that the existing roadways, Calzada del Bosque and Via de la Valle will operate at current levels of service and there will be no direct impacts caused by the proposed project.” How can this be true? An extremely conservative 2 individuals a day, per unit, making 2 trips per day, would add 440 trips per day. Via de la Valle, Calzada del Bosque, Via de Santa Fe, El Apajo and San Dieguito Road are already too congested. This added traffic would massively and negatively impact those roads.

If the Mabee General Plan Amendment is allowed and other properties in the surrounding area are then allowed General Plan Amendments for high-density housing could this not result in literally a thousand or more vehicles on the local roads daily?

Is “step-down housing” that costs $1,000 per sq. ft. to build, for a total of $2.5 million to $6.5 million per residence, really “step-down housing” or is it simply very expensive high-density housing?

Where in the project being proposed is there a discussion of how this many new homes will impact the schools and other public services?

If there really is a need for “step-down housing” there is a much better solution: The RSF Inn plans to build 42 units within the next few years. Most of the units will be for sale. There are 54 residential units that will be available for lease at the end of 2015 at the entrance to Whispering Palms, off Via de la Valle.

To date, in excess of 370 RSFA and adjacent community members have signed a petition in opposition to the proposed high-density project, with more signatures being obtained daily. Can all of those opposed to this project be wrong?

Nothing has occurred since the adoption of the 2020 General Plan and “cleanups” by the Board of Supervisors that would necessitate, or make advisable, increasing the allowable density on the Mabee property. The Mabee property, on the corner of Via de la Valle & Calzada del Bosque, is one of the major entrances into the Covenant of Rancho Santa Fe. Aside from the Village, which was designed from its inception for higher density, allowing a high-density housing project, such as “Rancho Librado,” would be totally out of character with anything else within the Covenant boundaries. The high-density being proposed for the Mabee property would also be totally out of character for anything within Fairbanks Ranch boundaries and other surrounding areas.

If allowed, the Mabee “Rancho Liberado” project will adversely impact the surrounding neighbors and negatively alter the character of our communities forever. If a General Plan Amendment is allowed for this project the “floodgates will be open” and the low density nature of our communities will be “gone like the wind.”

If you would like to read a detailed memorandum on the subject E-mail me at: gmblmb@outlook.com and I’ll be happy to E-mail you a copy.

The proposed project will be heard by the RSFA Board of Directors on May 7th, with a time certain of 9:05 A.M.

If you would like to sign a petition, and join over 370 of your neighbors, who are opposed to the Mabee “Rancho Liberado” project, please go to:

http://neighborsforsandieguitorivervalley.org

Lisa M. Bartlett

Resident of, and/or associated with, the Covenant for 48 years