Supervisors OK amendment to plan for housing project

RANCHO SANTA FE — Almost a year in the works, Rancho Cielo Estates Ltd won unanimous approval on Aug. 7 from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to amend the Rancho Cielo Specific Plan and bring a 24-home master-planned community near the Cielo Estates community northwest of Del Dios Highway closer to fruition. The project, which had (and still does have) opponents, originally came before the Board of Supervisors in September 2012.

At that time, the development was designed to include 42 condominium and single-family residences.

Opponents to the project cited concerns over whether it fit within the community character, the visual impacts it would have to the area, whether the recreational facilities in the Cielo community could adequately host more users and fire protection.

The concerns led supervisors to ask Rancho Cielo Estates Ltd to address the concerns.

The project has undergone what Mark Rosen, president of Rancho Cielo Estates Ltd, called “significant changes.” The changes include a 43 percent reduction in the amount of residences built, a reduction in the structures’ heights from three stories to two, eliminating the condominium aspect all together, and the project will have to comply with Rancho Cielo Design guidelines.

“These won’t be the largest homes in Cielo,” Rosen said, “But they also won’t be the smallest.”

The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Department also approved a Fire Protection Plan for the project, including it being a shelter-in-place community with access roads on Mt. Israel Road, Harmony Grove Road and Camino De Arriba.

No other roads will have to be built in the area.

Rosen said that the 24 lots proposed simply are the lowest economically feasible density on the property.

Ali Shapouri is a principal planner with Shapouri & Associates.

His company was retained by a group of Cielo homeowners that had concerns over the land use policy of the Rancho Cielo Specific Plan.

He argued at the meeting that the project would be more consistent with the specific plan if 12 units were built and not 24.

He added that with the housing marking back, and the price of Cielo lots increasing significantly, he thought the project’s developers might see a better return on a 12-lot subdivision that would be less graded, more compatible and fully supported by the neighborhood.

Supervisor Bill Horn, whose district includes the community, said he rarely sends back a project for redesign. But he commended Rancho Cielo Estates Ltd for their compromises over the project.

“Despite those who are opposed to this,” Horn said, “this is acceptable to me. I think it meets community character; it does not have the odious appearance of a huge ‘80s tract.”

With the lots now entitled the next step will be to prepare construction plans and receive a grading permit before any work can begin. There is no timetable for when that will be, according to Rosen.

The land owned by Rancho Cielo Estates Ltd, was acquired in 1998.

A price range for the yet to be built homes hasn’t been set yet, and construction will be based on market demand.

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