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The general area on Conway Drive where the new Conway Subdivision 56-unit housing project will be constructed. Photo by Samantha Nelson
The general area on Conway Drive where the new Conway Subdivision 56-unit housing project will be constructed. Photo by Samantha Nelson
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Council approves housing subdivision in North Escondido

ESCONDIDO — North Escondido will be home to a new 56-unit residential subdivision project along Stanley Avenue and Conway Drive, including million-dollar homes and duplexes reserved for affordable housing.

The Conway Residential Subdivision project will consist of 46 single-family lots at 916, 942 and 943 Stanley Avenue and 2005-2175 Conway Drive. Two of those lots will contain existing homes, while one multifamily lot will house 10 units in the form of five duplexes.

As a density bonus project, developer Escondido North proposes to include 10 deed-restricted affordable units, allowing them to build 18 additional units under state law. However, the developer only proposes adding 16 units to the base 40-unit limit for 56 total units.

The project includes the annexation of a two-acre lot from San Diego County.

To construct the project, 13 existing homes will be demolished. An agreement between the developer and the current landowners will provide $3,000 to the displaced renters.

The City Council approved the project on Feb. 8, bumping compensation to $5,000 and giving renters 90 days instead of 60 days to leave.

Deputy Mayor Joe Garcia and Councilmember Consuelo Martinez suggested raising that compensation amount considering the soaring rent costs across the county and city.

“The rents they pay now don’t exist anywhere in the county anymore,” Martinez said. “These families will probably have to pay $1,000 more a month in order to move.”

The City Council approved the project with the additional condition of raising the compensation costs in a 4-1 vote, with Mayor Dane White opposed. The mayor questioned the council’s authority to dictate such a change instead of leaving it to the landowners and the developer.

Habitat for Humanity San Diego is also partnering with the developer to construct 10 affordable units. The agency plans to work with existing residents who will be displaced to house them in the new units if their income qualifies.

Individuals moving into the affordable units will own the deed-restricted homes.

“This will be the first affordable for-sale product that we’ve seen in our city,” said David Ferguson, an attorney representing the developer. “The partnership with Habitat is groundbreaking.”

Ferguson said the rest of the homes in the project would be market-rate million-dollar homes.

Several of the project’s neighbors are concerned that its grading is too high relative to the adjacent properties. Ferguson noted that of the several housing projects the developer has been behind, including the nearby residential neighborhood of Pradera, the Conway project has the least amount of grading.

Residents were also concerned about the need for an environmental impact report. The document could help analyze and answer many of the questions and concerns about grading and the project’s potential impacts.

According to City Planner Adam Finestone, the project has sufficiently proposed mitigations addressing potentially significant impacts that an EIR document is optional.

“Staff is confident that the analysis done is appropriate and that there are no significant impacts that have not been mitigated,” Finestone said.

To mitigate traffic concerns, the project calls for high-visibility crosswalks and pedestrian signals at the intersections of North Ash Street and Vista Avenue and North Broadway and Rincon Avenue; high-visibility crosswalks and curb ramps at the intersections of Stanley Avenue and Conway Drive and Lehner Avenue and Conway Drive; and over 2,100 linear feet of new sidewalk.

Although he ultimately approved the project, Garcia said he struggled with the ethics behind grouping all affordable units together in the corner of the project.

“To me, it’s segregation,” Garcia said.

Councilmember Mike Morasco disagreed, saying the project was proposing “almost reverse segregation” by including the affordable units in that area of the city.

“Everything in regards to low-income housing has been in the city core,” Morasco said. “This is an opportunity for home ownership in an affordable way through a great process and agency in the less urban portions of our city.”

Morasco was also pleased to have Habitat for Humanity on board with the project.

As part of Habitat’s process, the future homeowners of the affordable units will work alongside volunteers to construct their new homes.

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