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Celeste de la Victoria
Celeste de la Victoria, a homeowner in the Smilax/Mimosa neighborhood, holds a sign protesting KB Homes’ proposed 62-unit townhome development on a 4.9-acre parcel of empty land in Vista. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram
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Supervisors to determine fate of controversial Smilax development

VISTA — Residents are pushing back against a proposed high-density development sandwiched between the borders of Vista and San Marcos on a sliver of unincorporated county land.

KB Home received approval from the San Diego County Planning Commission in November 2020 for its 62 townhomes and a rezone application to increase the density on the five-acre lot off Smilax Road and Mimosa and Poinsettia avenues.

About 20 to 30 residents protested on Jan. 28 near the site as they fear rezoning approval from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on March 3 will have severe impacts on the neighborhood, according to resident Maureen Hudson.

Belle Hazlehurst
Belle Hazlehurst, a local homeowner, is protesting the high-density rezoning of a vacant lot in the Smilax/Mimosa neighborhood in Vista. If approved by the Board of Supervisors, KB Homes would build a 62-unit townhome development on a 4.9-acre parcel. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram

“This is a huge, highly dense development for this neighborhood,” Hudson said. “It’s just way too dense. If they could put something in with the existing zoning, that would be great. We’re not opposed to development, we’re just opposed to this high density because we just don’t have the infrastructure here.”

Of the issues, the residents say there are no plans by KB Homes to improve on Smilax Road, which is two lanes and already failing, no sidewalks, adding 500 vehicle trips per day and a potential conflict with the City of Vista possibly annexing the land.

In an email to the county from John Conley, Vista’s director of community development, he said, “the property is within our Sphere of Influence (sic) and our General Plan designates this area as Low Density.”

The density rezone also has residents angered as the current designation is for two units per acre, while the project calls for 15 per acre. Also, residents are concerned about the lack of parking, as Hudson said residents in two apartment complexes across state Route 78 use the Smilax Road area for parking and must walk to their homes.

Smilax Road development
A permit application notice posted by the County of San Diego at the site of a proposed a residential development in Vista. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram

“Only 30 residences were notified by the county in accordance with regulations requiring notice to only those residences within 300 feet of the project,” resident Ken Knight said in a press release. “This project has been in the works for a year and a half, and the only sign notifying residents about the development was posted on the property about two weeks ago.”

The project, though, would contain 15 buildings, two common open spaces and a turf dog park, according to an analysis conducted by Rincon Consultants, Inc. The analysis said the project would not result in substantial conflicts, incompatible development, would offer needed housing and would be consistent with the land use.

Smilax Road development
A number of locals oppose KB Homes’ attempt to rezone a land parcel for a 62-unit townhouse development in Vista. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram

The units, meanwhile, would range from 1,679-square feet to 1,918 and include two-car garages. The current single-family residence on the property would be demolished and a private 24-foot-wide road connecting Smilax Road.

Twenty-three open parking spaces would be on-site in addition to the 124 garage spaces, according to the analysis.

“I will evaluate all the merits and issues on the project, including public comment and testimony, prior to making any decision,” said Supervisor Jim Desmond, who represents the area and much of North County.