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San Marcos project receives Planning Commission OK

SAN MARCOS — A 189-home development in the northern foothills of San Marcos received the unanimous backing of the Planning Commission, despite outcry from neighboring residents to vote the project down.

The commission voted to recommend the City Council approve the San Marcos Highlands project, which has been around in some form since 1990. It was revived in late 2014 after developers temporarily shelved the plans, and has been somewhat controversial in the communities immediately surrounding the project, which is proposed on 262 acres northwest of Palomar College.

The City Council still has to approve the project, and The Local Agency Formation Commission will also have to weigh in on the project because it requires the annexation of about 121 acres from the county into the city limits. LAFCO oversees boundary changes such as annexations.

Opponents, many of whom live in the adjacent 1,600-home Santa Fe Hills Community, have complained about the project’s traffic impacts and its aesthetic impact on the community’s prominent ridgeline.

But it is the project’s future ramifications that worry them, specifically as it pertains to a proposed extension of Las Posas Road.

A number of residents in the adjacent Santa Fe Hills community or in unincorporated county land north of the project along Buena Creek Road have been opposed to or skeptical of the project largely due to a feature of the project that would extend Las Posas Road in San Marcos nearly to Buena Creek

While the project does not call for the road connection to be completed, neighbors see the development as simply a step toward the inevitable completion of that link, which will exacerbate traffic along Buena Creek and Twin Oaks Valley Road. Twin Oaks Valley Road, which turns into Deer Springs Road, already becomes bogged down with traffic during rush hour as commuters use it to avoid traffic along the eastbound state Route78 on their way to Interstate 15.

“Obviously I think it is a bad vote from my perspective,” said Robert Peterson, who lives along Deer Springs Road in unincorporated county area near San Marcos. “The last thing we need is more traffic congestion and lessened quality of life along the I-15 corridor.”

Developers have argued that long-stalled projects such as San Marcos Highlands have contributed to a self-imposed housing crisis in San Diego, where housing demand far outstrips available housing stock.

Property owner Farouk Kubba originally bought the property in 1981. Nine years later, the City Council approved his development proposal for 275 homes, but that project was held up when the economy soured and when the adjacent 1,600-home Santa Fe Hills project (then called Paloma) by another developer ran into financial trouble.

In 1999, when the Highlands project was ready to move forward, it hit resistance from neighbors and wildlife agencies with complaints ranging from traffic to changing the rural character of the area to environmental impacts to the extension of Las Posas to Buena Creek.

In 2002, the council approved Kubba’s request to build 230 homes. But by 2006, with no work done, the city refused to give extensions to its approval and the project once again hit the skids.

In 2014, Kubba’s project was revived — with a bid this time to build 198 homes. More than a year later, the number of proposed homes has shrunk even further, to 189 homes, to allow for a little more open space.


Tom Byrne November 16, 2016 at 6:46 am

San Marcos basically rubber stamped this project regardless of public or expert comments about how the project was flawed. This project only has a 400 foot easement for flying animals to go east to west, not coyotes just a wall of houses its the very definition of urban sprawl. This project is MAINLY in the county with zoning for 1 house per 10 acres. This project requires San Marcos to grab county land. LAFCO still has to approve this. Everyone should understand this is simply a ploy to pay for half the road to Buena Creek and then they will claim “Fire Danger” to connect and exit route …bingo a new connector. THis is the city finding money to build a new road north that does nothing to alleviate traffic since Buena Creek connects to Twin Oaks… only thing this does is bisect completely one of the largest contiguous Coastal Sage scrub areas in the country. Its horrible and has been 30 years in the making its so bad.

This project cannot stand the people will continue to fight it all the way until a shovel goes in the ground. San Marcos has to end somewhere and take care of the land it already has..traffic on 78 at Las Posas is already a joke. 189 more homes in county land zoned 1 house per 10 acres will make it much worse.

Andrea barlow September 25, 2016 at 8:22 am

I like the way that San Marcos is still a lot of country with its rolling hills and trails. I have been here since 2012, and I rent a house here in Santa Fe Hills. Even though I don’t own I don’t want to see over population in such a beautiful city. I already had to live that experience when I lived in Bakersfield. Between the heat, the dirty air, and 300,000 people crammed together in one city, it was a nice relief to be able to find quaint little San Marcos. Its small and that’s the way I like it. Please don’t mess that up.

Karen Christian September 24, 2016 at 2:11 pm

Glad to see this project moving forward once again. We’ve lived in Santa Fe Hills 25+ years and know the push through of Las Posas Road to Buena Creek Road has been in the General Plan for a long time (before we moved here and yes we received a copy of it when we bought our home). Yes this is a move in that direction and know it will happen eventually. The City of San Marcos is doing well in managing growth and development.

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