Rancho Santa Fe Inn Orchard project, boundary adjustment approved

Due to some confusion in the submittal and approval process last year, the Rancho Santa Fe Association board revisited a boundary adjustment and a subdivision for condos at The Inn of Rancho Santa Fe at its May 5 meeting. The board ratified its approval from June 2015 on JMI Realty’s plans with a unanimous vote.

According to Tom Farrar, Association planning director, the submittal process was “recreated” after it was discovered that the review of the project had not been processed as the Association’s documents require.

Farrar said the boundary adjustment was simply to correct longstanding errors and bring the site into conformance with the regulatory code — it served to fix seven locations where property lines cut underneath existing buildings on The Inn’s property.

With the 13-unit Orchard development off Steven Royce Boulevard west of The Inn, JMI plans to demolish two units and replace them with five for a net increase of three units.

“From an aesthetic standpoint, there will be very little change from what the community experiences right now,” said Justin Suiter, president of Pasco Laret Suiter and Associates.

The Covenant Design Review Committee (CDRC) approved the project on May 18, 2015 and ratified its past actions on April 26, 2016.

Conditions added to the approval included a requirement to form a homeowners association to manage the common elements of the property, a prohibition of timeshares and short-term rentals, and that occupants and guests must first park inside the development.

The Inn owns a total of 35 buildings in the village and the residences have historically been available for rent. Over the years, the residences have been occupied by short-time members in transition in addition to a lot of long-term renters by choice. As for-sale, step-down housing has been described as a need for Rancho Santa Fe residents, JMI brought on Pasco Laret Suiter and Associates, a Solana Beach firm that has been working in Rancho Santa Fe for the last 40 years, to help explore its options.

“We respect the Covenant, we understand the Covenant, we take a lot of pride in working in the Covenant,” Suiter said. “When JMI approached us three and a half years ago to look at this property we were very excited to be a part of this.”

With the project, Suiter’s firm helped identify areas where future development could occur across The Inn’s 14 parcels in the Covenant. Projects have been developed for The Orchard, The Grove and La Gracia Village sites and they are known collectively as The Residences at The Inn.

Suiter said JMI had an informal presentation to the community last year and received “significant input” from the community, particularly on the Grove and La Gracia projects, raising questions about building density in the village.

In the La Gracia Village pod east of The Inn, there are currently six buildings with 10 units and they would like to demolish them and rebuild with seven buildings with 20 units total.

In The Grove, off La Flecha by the RSF Senior Center, there are three dwelling units currently and JMI would like to bring it to five (four new and keeping one existing).

As those projects are more complicated, requiring Covenant Modifications and approval from two-thirds of the neighbors, Suiter said they have decided to put those on the back-burner for now to build more support for them — they are proceeding with The Orchard where there was less concern and community input.

“I know there’s been a lot of talk about the process,” Suiter said. “I look back on it and think to myself: ‘The process worked perfectly.’ We studied it, we identified a big area for a project, we went out to the community to get input and reduced our project to what we thought the community wanted to see. In my perspective, the process played out as it should.”

As Suiter said, if JMI decides to proceed with La Gracia and The Grove projects, it will require the Covenant Modification, CDRC and Association board approvals.

During public comment, one neighbor asked if there are any plans to improve the overflow parking situation on La Gracia near The Inn, which poses safety concerns for drivers and pedestrians.

RSF Patrol Chief Matt Wellhouser said he has been working with the county on that issue for the past three months and the county will soon be striping the road so cars won’t be able to park there. Suiter said that separate from this project, JMI is considering adding a sidewalk on the south side of La Gracia.

Due to the procedural problems with The Inn project, the Association board has hired Rick Engineering to perform an independent review of land use planning process and records for the last 12 to 18 months to see if there are any other issues.

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