The Rancho Santa Fe Association voted 7-0 to deny the Covenant modification for the Villas at Rancho Santa Fe, a proposal to build a 35-home development off Del Dios Highway near El Camino Del Norte, an increase in density over the seven legally buildable lots on the 39-acre property.
At the Dec. 6 meeting, the directors had no discussion on the project, simply stating the Covenant Design Review Committee’s September recommendation to deny the Villas would stand.
Quantum Estates was seeking a modification from Class A single family homes to Class B, to allow for a maximum of 35 casita homes, changing the 2.86 minimum lot size to accommodate the higher density.
A Covenant modification requires two-thirds approval from the adjacent property owners by land area and Quantum received 66.66 percent approval (there were a total of 11 votes with one property representing over 40 percent).
In order for the CDRC board to recommend approval of the modification, the board had to make the findings that the property has adequately-sized building areas and suitable topography; the rural character remains protected; and the welfare of the community is protected. The CDRC could not make any of those findings.
“I can tell you all five members were resolute in their decision to deny on those three areas,” said Sandy Johnson, chair of the CDRC.
Johnson said that the committee’s driving force is to uphold the Covenant, which states that density and smaller lots belong in the village. They did not support changing the minimum lot size to allow for the higher density.
Matthew Peterson, an attorney representing Quantum Estates, said that as Covenant modifications are rare, he believes the CDRC did not correctly analyze the modification request based on the current designation and he believed all of the findings could be made to grant the modification.
“We believe this is an opportunity to provide a product in the Ranch that is in short supply and in the future, will be in more demand,” Peterson said. “This is an opportunity that may not come around again.”
Developer Mark Simpson has built several luxury home communities similar to what was proposed in Rancho Santa Fe, many of them golf course communities and nearly all of them including an empty-nester component they call “villas.” Comparing the product to the neighborhood that exists in La Fremontia in the village, Simpson said the smaller estate homes would range from 3,700 to 4,700-square- feet.
The Villas would target an aging Rancho Santa Fe demographic that is looking to downsize from their larger homes while staying in the community, offering a multitude of services for the community’s residents, including landscape maintenance and housekeeping services—they will even wash residents’ cars.
While the project raised concerns about traffic at the CDRC meeting, Simpson said that the traffic generated from the 35 homes would be a “drop in the ocean” in the larger circulation issue on Del Dios Highway. As part of their project, they would agree to privately fund the roundabout at El Camino Del Notre, underground “the tangle” of power lines, get rid of the sewer pump station, and enhance the the slope adjacent to the highway with groves of trees and landscaping.
“It would provide a much better entry to that part of the Ranch,” Simpson said.
During public comment, resident Rick Manoogian said he was initially opposed to the project but changed his mind when he heard about the traffic, infrastructure and other improvements that would come with the Villas. He said he believed the project would be a benefit to the community.
Sharing a counterpoint, resident Rory Kendall encouraged the board to deny the modification.
“It’s the same circus, different tent,” Kendall said. “This is the zillionth time developers have seen a juicy lot site and want to slice and dice and degrade our lifestyle.”