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Concordia Homes is proposing 550 estate homes east of Escondido for its Safari Highlands Ranch development. Courtesy image
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Lines drawn over proposed Safari Highlands Ranch

ESCONDIDO — Another development battle is brewing, this time over Concordia Homes’ proposal of 550 estate homes dubbed Safari Highlands Ranch.

The area is just north of the San Diego Safari Park and the city of Escondido held an open house Nov. 7 to allow residents the chance to view a draft of the environment impact report, which is about 4,000 pages. Resident may comment on the EIR until Dec. 7.

Concordia Homes would need the city of Escondido to annex the land, which is currently owned by the county of San Diego and zoned for just 27 homes.

“Safari Highlands Ranch is committed to delivering a high-quality residential community in Escondido that will improve public safety, enhance local roads and infrastructure and preserve more than 700 acres of permanent open space,” said Ken Moore, a spokesman for Concordia Homes. “We put together a comprehensive project … they include the golf course, public safety improvements and traffic improvements.”

The plan is detailed as Concordia Homes also plans to build a new fire station at no cost to the city with equipment, although Moore did not have further details.

As for open space, the project calls for 70 percent of the site, or 700 of the 1,098 acres, to remain designated as such with nine miles of trails, which will be maintained by the homeowners association.

Safari Highlands Ranch will also help build or fund a new clubhouse for Eagle Crest Golf Club.

A new signal would be added at State Route 78 and Summit Road, while the intersection at SR78 and Cloverdale Road would be renovated to ease traffic flow into the valley.

Concordia Homes also said it will provide nearly $3 million in development school fees dedicated to the San Pasqual Union School District and more than $7 million in overall school fees.

“We have developed a project that we stand behind,” Moore said. “Safari Highlands Ranch was designed to fulfill the vision of the city of Escondido’s general plan and will provide needed housing for our region. The release of the draft environmental impact report and public comment period is an important milestone that will provide local residents with the opportunity to provide feedback on this critical project.”

However, the San Pasqual Valley Preservation Alliance is pushing back against the project. NeySa Ely, CEO of the SPVPA, said the group has many concerns, notably with the blasting and moving of millions of cubic feet of dirt, only having one access road into the project, subpar traffic improvements and the tripling of traffic on Rockwood Road, which would lead into the development.

Ely said one significant concern is there is only one road leading into the project, which would run between the Rancho Vistamonte and Rancho San Pasqual communities. There is an emergency access road planned for the northwest part of the project, but it would not be available to the public.

“We didn’t really see or hear anything we didn’t already know,” Ely said. “It’s still very rural land zoned for 27 houses. That’s what they bought, that’s their land and they are looking for a mechanism for which they can flip that into being worth, and able, to put 550 houses with the same one road in and one road out.”

As for the timeline, the estimated completion isn’t until 2026-27. The proposal must first be approved by the city, to which Concordia Homes is expected to submit its EIR and plans in 2018.

If approved, the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission must approve the annexation. Moore said the ground breaking likely wouldn’t start until 2021.

Ely, who lives in the Rancho Vistamonte community, said the added traffic, threat of wildfires and debris created makes the project untenable. “If you were doing fewer houses, there wouldn’t be concerns about the impacts of construction, the permanent impact of traffic and the fire danger,” she added.


MNB November 22, 2017 at 10:18 pm

Bad , very bad .
This prohect has been rejected and defeated by the community before , the confabulation between the builder and Escondido council Abbed and others against the will and safe living of the residents of this area seems suspicious . What part of zonning restrictiom they dont underrstand and the reasons behind it

Michael November 21, 2017 at 9:11 pm

The October 2017 firestorm in Northern California killed over 40 people and destroyed nearly 9,000 structures. The large loss of life and property was due to this mega fire overwhelming our fire fighters, firetrucks, planes, and helicopters. We only have so many.

Mega fires can (and do) happen in San Diego County as well. Every development in the back country puts more lives and property at risk. But most importantly, these back country developments also put lives and property at risk for those who live IN THE CITY. The Tubbs fire entered the city of Santa Rosa itself and firefighters were powerless to stop it because they were spread too thin.

So every resident who lives in our urban areas should oppose these back country developments because these backcountry rezoning projects are putting the lives and property of CITY residents at risk. And the Escondido City Council should vote to protect their citizens and oppose these back country developments

Donna Bird November 15, 2017 at 9:34 am

Residents of Rancho San Pasqual and Vistamonte widely reject the Safari Highlands project. Further, many residents question what the seemingly obsessive concern over the health and success of the golf course is all about. This is a private business that has been promised favors by Concordia Builders. We don’t have any stake in this private business concern. We see no upside to this 550 home plan. We see a threat to wildlife, the environment, fire safety, water conservation and the safety our children and outdoor activity lovers. We hope our elected officials will vote our concerns and not their political cronyism. We fear they will choose to represent themselves and not their constituents. Prove us wrong – vote against annexation and stop this now.

Carl November 13, 2017 at 3:08 pm

Safari Highlands Ranch will be a great thing for our community in the Valley. I don’t understand why there are concerns about wild fires. I’ve read the draft EIR and it says that Safari Highlands is “less susceptible” to wild fires than what’s currently there. That report also says the new fire station and ability to respond quicker during emergencies will help create more successful outcomes. These certainly don’t sound like problems. In the case of a wild fire, it would be critical to have a community that could better protect our homes and increase chances of good outcomes like saving lives. Yes, Escondido needs to staff the fire station, but getting a free fire station is a big deal for the community. Further, the benefit to the Eagle Crest Golf Course cannot be over-stated. If that golf course fails, it would have terrible ramifications on both Rancho San Pasqual and Rancho Vistamonte.

B.J. November 17, 2017 at 6:26 pm

Planning to have 550 homes, to be built in an area the County wisely zoned for just 27 homes.
Does not sound appropriate.
A developer who bought the land KNOWING this.
And who does not propose to build a proper second full access road, in an area that has burned before.
Two existing smaller home communities that were allowed to be built in the last few years, with NO fire station.
Does not sound appropriate.
Why did the City allow this?
Have we learned nothing? Are we going to continue to allow greed to dictate our land use choices??

Bob Swan November 13, 2017 at 3:04 pm

The SHR plan is an excellent plan to sustain the Eagle Crest Golf Course as well as build and man a very needed firehouse. The nearest emergency services takes 10-15 minutes to get to RSP. The Golf Course will receive $200,000 designated for course improvement as well as the new clubhouse designed with a much needed restaurant for this entire area.

I have talked with people familiar with managing a project like SRH, and the Project Manager will restrict construct traffic during crucial school hours. Any blasting will have a full cover built over it and an insight EPA manager will see to it that dust is minimized.

With this project, there will be 3 emergency exit roads for the residents of RSP, VistaMonte, and SHR to use. That’s an increase.

The project is designed will, engineered well, and will be well accepted by folks looking for new homes!

Jessica November 11, 2017 at 11:04 am

The fact that a developer would choose that site for a housing plan is beyond foolish and obviously a decision borne out of greed, rather than the good of the community. That area has burned three times in the last 30 years and there is only one access road. How is that fact alone not enough to shut down the proposal?
Besides that, what North County needs are starter homes for young families. There are plenty of new developments for the wealthy to choose from. These developers lack common sense in a way that may one day prove deadly and they are entirely tone-deaf to the needs of the community.

patricia borchmann November 11, 2017 at 1:55 am

In my opinion, the Draft EIR does not objectively analyze project’s direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts. Impacts are are analyzed in a superficial way that trivializes most impacts, and describes mitigation measures with exagerrated effect. The determination of impact significance is based on description prepared by Concordia-retained consultants, to self-define impacts, mitigation. Stakeholders disagree on analysis methodology used. For example how many project impacts are not reduced to Non-Significant levels by proposed Mitigation Measures on major traffic impacts, wildfire hazards, public services and infrastructure, water supply. Additionally, the Draft EIR contains incomplete analysis pertaining to Geology/Soils, as it fails to provide analysis based on Hillside and Ridgeline Preservation Overlay. It is expected during public review period, project concerns and controversy may generate enough public interest to encourage active citizen participation, and effort to become well informed.

tomsquawk November 10, 2017 at 5:20 pm

I have a bridge for sale

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