By Karen Billing
A new design approach has been given to the proposed upscale senior facility on Via de la Valle, Rancho Del Mar. The facility, proposed for the 23.88 acres next to the San Diego Polo Club that serves as a dirt parking lot, has been in the works for several years.
The former management partner is no longer involved in the project; Milan Capital has taken over the planning process and is working with the community and the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board on the design. Milan had been a silent partner on the project.
“We were not satisfied with the progress of the development,” Bret Bernard, Milan’s director of planning and development, told the planning board at its Oct. 23 meeting.
He said they heard “loud and clear” that neighboring residents thought the development was too intense. They were asked to create a project that better matched the surrounding community — low intensity and larger estate homes that will preserve sight lines and blend into the area.
To reduce the impact on the community, they plan to create a tree-lined frontage and entry with a two-story independent living facility, a one-story assisted living facility and a one-story memory care unit. Previous plans were denser, with 225 units spread out in casitas; the new plans call for just 125 units. The western part of the property would be left as open space, not to be developed.
Neighbor Cory Hao said he appreciated that they have gotten a lot of the residents together to weigh in on the plans, but he still thinks that the project is still too high-density for the area.
“Just because it doesn’t look dense doesn’t mean it’s not dense,” he said.
Hao said he also believes the project is subject to Proposition A, which states that any change for more-permissive uses on agriculturally zoned land needs to go to a vote of the people.
Bernard said he doesn’t agree with that interpretation of Prop A, and that it is an allowed use in the area. In 2012, the San Diego Planning Commission weighed in and agreed with Bernard’s interpretation, that a continuing care facility is consistent with an “intermediate care facility,” an intensity of use that was allowed in the zone before 1984 and should be allowed without a vote, just a land development code amendment.
At the time, the Carmel Valley planning board disagreed with that decision.
Rancho Del Mar’s plans will continue to be reviewed by the planning board members as they progress, probably at one of the board’s upcoming regional issues subcommittee meetings.