RANCHO SANTA FE — The decision by the county Board of Supervisors to approve the mixed-use development at the entrance to Whispering Palms did not sit well with residents of the Whispering Palms community.
At a special meeting by the Whispering Palms Community Council held the evening of Jan. 20, the board of directors asked counsel Julie Hamilton to prepare a petition of writ of mandate. This action will force a court decision.
According to David Nugent, president of the Alcala Homeowners Association and board member on the Whispering Palms Community Council, the writ “ … is directed against the county Board of Supervisors for never asking for an environmental impact report.”
On Jan. 13, the county Board of Supervisors approved the controversial mixed-use development with a unanimous vote. This came after many years of disagreements between developer Richard Cavanaugh and his Newport Pacific, Inc., which plans to build a complex that has both commercial and rental residential units. Residents in the community have long opposed the project feeling it is too large a project for the empty lot and that the rental units will bring down home values in the upscale neighborhood. Residents attending the meeting wore red to show their unity.
Cavanaugh felt otherwise. “I think people will be tickled to death once it’s built. They’ll love it,” he said, after the Board of Supervisors meeting. The project intends to provide services such as a beauty parlor, bakery and deli, and office space.
The empty lot at the entrance to Whispering Palms has been a source of conflict for many years, if not decades. Residents in the community want something built on the lot, but want it to work well with the community. “It’s such an eyesore, but we want it to be responsible,” said Karen Nugent, resident of Whispering Palms.
David Nugent expressed frustration due to Cavanaugh’s refusal to meet with the Whispering Palms Community Council and work with the residents of the community to develop a project that is beneficial to all parties concerned. “He could have had a good cash flow on the property by now, but instead he dug in his heels,” he said.
Will a writ of mandate stop Cavanaugh from developing the property? “I don’t believe so, but we would probably be allowed a temporary restraining order,” David Nugent said.
It appears the battle over the empty lot at Whispering Palms isn’t over yet.