Restoring the rural character of Rancho Santa Fe
When my husband, Robert, was a kid growing up in Rancho Santa Fe, he and his friends whiled away the summer days sitting on horses. They met most mornings at the riding club and rode to someone’s house, where they spent the day raiding the refrigerator and swimming in the family pool. Weekend gymkhanas at the riding club were well attended. Sometimes Robert would ride to the village and tie his horse at the community hitching post while he bought a soda and some snacks.
After I married Robert, I moved to Rancho Santa Fe. I occasionally joined my mother-in-law, Flo, and the nine-holers group for a round of golf on the community course. A straight-down-the-middle drive was critical in those days because chaparral lined the fairways.
When my daughter was young, we did not need a community pool. We met at a friend’s for burgers and a swim. If I wanted to talk to my neighbor, I just walked over to their house. Our front doors and gates were unlocked.
Rancho Santa Fe has been losing its rural character for many years. Instead of maintaining open space, we want high-speed Internet and an exclusive country club pool. While both of these may improve the value of my property, they definitely do not improve our rural nature or quality of life.
I have a suggestion. Can we put the hitching post back in the village? We would need to extend the trails to the center of town. Unfortunately, no one would ride their horse to the village because there is nothing appealing about visiting a real estate office. To fix this problem, instead of building a pool or burying fiber in our roads, let’s spend some of our association funds to buy buildings downtown. We can rent these buildings to preferred businesses. I would like to see a burger joint and a bookstore with comfortable chairs where I can enjoy a coffee. We could have an appealing community center where horses and people on foot are as common as cars looking for a place to park.
The association should work to “preserve and enhance the historic, rural character and ambiance of the Rancho Santa Fe Covenant community.” We can solve many of the issues that we face if we start taking steps towards restoring the rural nature of Rancho Santa Fe.
High-density housing proposal just the start of a slippery slope
The Mabee family proposes building 54 homes on 28 acres located at a primary “gateway” to the Covenant, the intersection of Calzada del Bosque and Via de la Valle. However, they have a zoning problem. SD County zoning, as outlined in the General Plan 2020 and consistent with the surrounding neighborhood, specifies an absolute minimum of 2 acres per residence, or a maximum of 14 homes on this property.
The applicant has asked the County for a zoning change to permit a tract-style subdivision of attached condominium residences on (roughly) 5,000-square-foot lots. Their plan is inconsistent with surrounding 2-16 acre properties, and represents a dangerous precedent by injecting high-density into the Covenant on lots not zoned for this density.
Approval of the project lubricates a slippery slope and encourages future high-density developments. Should the County permit such density here, the door is open and the process becomes easier for the next applicant. Chino Farm and the old walnut grove (across from the vegetable stand), as well any large vacant parcel such as the intersection of El Montevideo and Paseo Delicias, are obvious targets for the next applicant with high-density ideas.
Of course the applicant hired a traffic consultant to produce a study. Not surprisingly, it concludes minimal impact on local roads. This defies common sense! Consider the straightforward facts: 1) 54 vs. 14 new homes; 2) All residents and service personnel must use the only entrance/exit to the subdivision on Calzada del Bosque, and must drive through the intersection at either Calzada del Bosque and Via de Santa Fe or Via de la Valle; 3) SD County already grades the Via de Santa Fe intersection as an “F”; 4) Today’s congested traffic patterns will certainly become worse with 54 new homes.
The applicant is holding a community meeting on Aug. 6 to convince you to pressure the RSFA Board to support this rezoning and densification. We have heard their talking points, and the purported benefits are substantially outweighed by the damage this high-density 54-home subdivision would forever inflict on our community.
To date, The Whispering Palms Community Council has written a letter to the SD Planning Group asking them to deny this rezoning request, and on July 28, 2015, The Fairbanks Ranch HOA Board voted unanimously in opposition to this rezoning. We hope that with your support, the RSFA Board will also strongly oppose this rezoning, and the follow-up damage to our rural lifestyle.
Nearly 900 neighbors have signed the petition opposing this project. Please join us by adding your name: https://neighborsforsandieguitorivervalley.org
Neighbors for the Preservation of the San Dieguito River Valley
Representative list of members: Susan and David Allred, Alchera and Willy Ayyad, Lisa Bartlett, Kay and Buck Bennett, Melanie Brooks, Olga and Denis Capelson, Yvette Diuri, Sarah and Jon Kelly, Susan and Rob Lankford, Carole and Ken Markstein, Beth and Mark Nelson, Catherine and Art Nicholas, Chrissy and Rick Nicholas, Carole and Russ Penniman, Joan and George Scott, Marie and Saiid Zarrabian