By Joe Tash
A proposal by Rancho Cielo Estates Ltd. to build 42 detached condominium homes within the Cielo community was put on hold by the county Board of Supervisors, who want the developer to work with county staff, the local planning group and residents to overcome objections to the project.
At its meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 26, the board voted unanimously to support a motion by Supervisor Bill Horn to send the proposed condo project back to staff for more review. If the developer can revise the plans to satisfy community concerns, the project can be brought back before the board for consideration. No date was set to bring the project back.
The community’s opposition to the condo project centered on three areas, according to a county staff report: incompatibility with the character of the existing community; inadequate environmental review; and a lack of community involvement and input on the project.
The county’s Department of Planning and Development Services disputed the contentions of opponents and recommended that the board approve the project, as did the County Planning Commission. The San Dieguito Community Planning Group initially supported the project, but rescinded its support at a meeting in July.
The Cielo community is east of the Rancho Santa Fe Village on Del Dios Highway. The Rancho Cielo specific plan was initially approved in 1981, and covers 2,668 acres. The plan allows a total of 719 homes, including 639 country estates, 38 planned development and 42 village estate units, according to the county staff report.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob said the project as proposed was out of character for the area, and that if such homes were needed in the community, they should be put in a different location.
Supervisor Pam Slater-Price said she was concerned about a number of issues, including whether the roads in the area were adequate to allow a smooth traffic flow in case of an emergency evacuation. She also cited county staff’s admission that if the project fell under today’s environmental regulations, rather than the rules in place when Cielo was first built, it would face difficulty in being approved.
“Doesn’t that give us all a wakeup call? It gives me one,” Slater-Price said.
Horn said the project, as proposed, would cover up the ridgeline through the area, and that it should be redesigned.
Under the motion approved by the board, the project was put on hold “with the intent that the developer work with County staff, the community and the Planning Group to make the development compatible with the surrounding area or find another location for what is being proposed.”