ENCINITAS — Residents from Save Desert Rose, a group made up of Olivenhain residents, filed a lawsuit last week against the city and Woodridge Farms Estates over the planned “Desert Rose” development.
Everett Delano, representing Save Desert Rose, said that the lawsuit seeks to force the city to complete an environmental impact report for the 16-home development in northeastern Olivenhain.
In approving the project this past month, the City Council said that the development doesn’t need a full environmental impact report, because it won’t significantly affect the land, including wildlife and a nearby wetland.
If the San Diego Superior Court rules that the city must carry out an environmental impact report, the contentious project would once again go before council. With an impact report on the table, Delano said that councilmembers would be more likely to vote against the development.
“The true impacts of the project would be revealed,” Delano said. He added that the developers would have to pay for the impact report, not the city.
Marco Gonzalez, the attorney for Desert Rose developers Woodridge Farms Estates, noted that he wasn’t surprised by the legal action.
“They’ve threatened this lawsuit all along,” he said.
He said that it’s unlikely the court will find that an environmental impact report is required. Yet even if the city is ordered to file an impact report, he said council would still back the development.
“This (development) isn’t harmful to the environment,” Gonzalez said.
Save Desert Rose and other Olivenhain residents argue that the project will ruin the rural community. But at the March council meeting councilmembers said that denying Desert Rose would violate the state’s density-bonus law, leaving the city vulnerable to lawsuits from developers.
The project is soon to undergo a multi-month design review process to make sure all aspects of the project comply with city requirements. Tom Curriden, senior planner with the city, said that the lawsuit won’t hold up design review; it would only be delayed upon a court order.
It’s not yet known when the issue will be heard in court.
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