Rancho Santa Fe residents voice concerns over proposed downsized housing project

Some Rancho Santa Fe residents are concerned about a potential downsized housing project on the 29-acre Mabee property on Calzada del Bosque.

The project has been presented to the San Dieguito Planning Group and the Whispering Palms community and last came before the Rancho Santa Fe Association board in May 2014. Residents came to the board’s Feb. 5 meeting to assert their opposition during public comment.

Rancho Santa Fe Association Board President Ann Boon said the plan has not yet been submitted to the Covenant Design Review Committee. There will be at least four public submittals of the project once it is designed, two to the CDRC and two to the Association board, allowing for many opportunities for public input on the merits of the project.

The preliminary design on Calzada del Bosque and Via de la Valle consists of 55 age-restricted units and four custom estate lots that serve as a buffer between the adjacent property owners. The plan includes five acres of open space with ponds, gardens and walkways, and the large home on the property will be converted to a community center for the units, with the second floor featuring two guest units for the residents that will not be for sale or for rent.

The land is currently zoned “C”, which allows for higher density developments. Of the four parcels on the property, only one is within the Covenant and will require an internal annexation.

Neighbor Rick Nicholas said they may be called NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard) but he believes the project will impact everyone in the Covenant. He said he has a petition with 120 signatures that are against high development at the gateway to Rancho Santa Fe.

“Half of us use Via de la Valle every day and it will be extremely difficult to mitigate the traffic impacts,” Nicholas said. “The project is beginning to pick up a little steam and we want to let the board know there is a voice of opposition to this project.”

Over the years, the 29-acre parcel has been considered for many things, from a proposal for 80 casitas to a new Rancho Santa Fe School District campus. Longtime Covenant resident Larry Mabee purchased the property seven years ago with the intention of developing a horse training facility. Mabee passed away in 2013 and his family began exploring other development options.

Rob Langford, who has lived slightly north of Calzada del Bosque for the last 30 years, urged the board to have a clear voice against the proposed density on the property.

“Density on this site would really violate the (Covenant’s) master plan and violates what we thought we would be living around,” Langford said.

Neighbor Saiid Zarrabian said he was especially concerned that when the plan was presented to the San Dieguito Planning Group, the developer representatives presented the minutes from the May Association meeting that stated the board was pleased with the concept and fully in support of the project.

RSF Association board member Philip Wilkinson clarified that the board was unanimous in the need for downsized housing, as it has been stated as a priority of many residents.

“We were favorable in that light but they still had to go through the county process,” Wilkinson said.

“There were no guarantees and the project did not get approval,” added RSF Association Board Vice President Craig McAllister.

Wilkinson said whether downsized housing happens on the Calzada del Bosque property or with The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe’s proposal is yet to be determined.

Last June, The Inn revealed a proposal to add three new neighborhoods to the 21 acres owned by The Inn in the village. The Inn’s initial proposal included demolishing 14 of its existing 99 units and adding thirty 2,000 -to 3,000-square-foot units for a total of 115.

Residents , such as Langford, said they feel that type of dense downsized housing as proposed by The Inn is where it belongs — in the center of town.

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