Housing project remains in litigation process


At the April 6 RSF Association meeting, residents expressed concerns and requested an update about the progress of the proposed step-down housing project on Calzada del Bosque.

The parcel, once considered by the Rancho Santa Fe School District for a new campus, was purchased by Larry Mabee in 2007 with plans to build a horse-breeding facility. Mabee passed away in 2013 and Golden Eagle Land Investment and the Mabee family trust began exploring development options, including the proposed Rancho Librado project.

The preliminary designs for Rancho Librado consist of 55 age-restricted units and four custom estate lots that would serve as a buffer between the adjacent property owners. The plan also included 5 acres of open space with ponds, gardens and walkways and for the large home on the property to be converted into a community center for the units.

The 28-acre parcel on Calzada del Bosque lies within the RSF Association and the County of San Diego; approximately 50 percent of the property is in the Covenant. The RSF Association has zoned the property as Class C for multiple dwellings; however, the land within the county has a more restrictive residential density, which will require the developers to apply for a density change within the zoning.

During public comment at the April 6 meeting, neighbor Saiid Zarrabian said he represents 950 people who have signed a petition “strongly opposing” the project.

Zarrabian said that the RSF Association board needs to weigh in as he believes the developers are continuing their efforts at the county level to amend the General Plan 2020. The plan states that one dwelling is allowed per 2-acre site, which would mean a maximum of 14 units per the current zoning. He urged the RSF Association to submit a letter to the county giving definitive opposition to any amendment to the zoning allowing a density increase and to hold a public meeting.

“A 400 percent density increase would cause irreparable damage to the most rural, unique attributes of Rancho Santa Fe,” Zarrabian said, noting that allowing a zoning change would also set a “dangerous precedent” and create a roadmap for density increases in the future. “There is no other place like Rancho Santa Fe. The risks of doing nothing are enormous and everlasting.”

Resident Rick Nicholas spoke during public comment, also requesting that the RSF Association make a statement direct to the county regarding density increases.

“We’re not against development but we support the 2020 plan,” Nicholas said.

According to Pete Smith, representing Golden Eagle Land Investment, a lawsuit regarding the project against the RSF Association is still in the appellate process and they have not submitted anything to the county recently.

In September 2015, Golden Eagle filed the lawsuit against the RSF Association alleging that the RSF Association violated the Common Interest Development Open Meeting Act and took action on an item not on the agenda. In response, the RSF Association filed a motion to strike the entire complaint.

In December 2015, the Superior Court of California dismissed eight of the nine causes of action in the lawsuit — the court did not dismiss the first cause of action that the board violated the open meeting act.

In the lawsuit, the Mabee trust said it believes that the Association engaged in conduct that undermined its efforts to obtain county approval for its project and with the lawsuit the Mabee trust is seeking a level playing field to present the development proposal to the community in a fair way.

No plan has ever been officially submitted to the RSF Association and it last came before the RSF Association board in May 2014 as an informational item.

RSF Association President Fred Wasserman said as the litigation process continues, the board is not in the position to take action against a project that has never been submitted to the RSF Association.

He assured the residents that he did not believe there was an attempt by the developers to bypass the RSF Association.

If the process moves forward, there would be time for the RSF Association and its members to be involved. The developers would have to submit a General Plan amendment to the county, prepare a specific plan and go through the Covenant Design Review Committee and RSF Association board review process as well as hold public hearings at the county level.