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Your help is needed now more than ever!

The proposed high-density project on Desert Rose is to come before the Encinitas City Planning Commission on November 1st at 6:00pm.  It will be held at the City Hall, located at 505 S. Vulcan Street, in Encinitas.

It is imperative that our community stands united against this proposed development.  Many of your neighbors have given generously of their time, effort and money…..they need your support too.  Please plan to attend the meeting and contribute as much as you can to Save Desert Rose.  You can send checks to:  2240 Encinitas Bl, D107, Encinitas, CA 92024 or donate via this website.

Please do what you can!  Together, we have a chance…remember, all it takes for evil to triumph is for good to do nothing.  Don’t let Olivenhain become this:

‘Desert Rose’ residents look to head off development project

Sep 13, 2012

OLIVENHAIN — “Save Desert Rose,” a group of citizens that have long opposed a planned development are gearing up for another battle as the project developer is slated to go before the Planning Commission in late October.

The group contends that the residential development is uncharacteristic of the rural surroundings, environmentally unsustainable and presents a host of other concerns.

The group has mobilized hundreds of supporters in the community as well as in Carlsbad where the impacts of increased traffic from the development will be felt.

“Aside from the fact that the proposed development is absolutely not in keeping with the character of Olivenhain, it presents a multitude of undesirable side effects,” said Bill Butler who lives near the planned 16-home community proposed by Woodbridge Farms Estates, LLC. “Not the least of which include safety, increased traffic on narrow streets, erosion and water quality.”

The history of the residential development within the city’s most rural community is complex. Located at the end of a series of narrow, winding roads, the 6-acre parcel on Desert Rose Way was sold a few years ago to AJ Pacific Homes.

See full article at The Coast News

City issues a Notice of Violation to the developers

The City of Encinitas issued a violation notice on November 23, 2011 to Woodridge Farm Estates, LCC (1335 Desert Rose Way) for improper grading and wetland violations.

Download Violation Letter (PDF)

Firestorm in Olivenhain

(as it originally appeared in the Olivenhain newsletter)

There is a firestorm developing in Olivenhain….not the kind that involves a lot of heat, smoke and ashes and leaves the community in ruins but one that has the same potential to forever change the character of the neighborhood we all cherish and love.

Our community, steeped in the history of the immigrant farmers who settled it, is dotted with landmarks that remind us of their struggle to create a very special place to do their life’s work and raise their families.  Anyone who has driven down Rancho Santa Fe road is aware of the humble buildings that have been vigorously defended and preserved to honor the heritage and memory of the founders of the community.  As current place-holders in the history of Olivenhain, we must do our part to defend the character of our community just as strenuously as we defend the wooden structures that are testaments to those who lived here before us.

Although very few of us are descendants of the hearty few who developed the area, we all inherit the appreciation for the very unique environment that we are fortunate to live in.  We place a premium on a community that is defined by its rural character and is free of some of the symbols of urbanization like sidewalks, street lamps. traffic lights and wide open spaces;  a community where trails are the links between neighbors; trails that are shared by walkers, people on horseback, bicyclists, joggers, gentle athletes, our four-legged friends and children walking to school.

While the homes in the community have taken on the face of newer construction and styles, the character of the community has nonetheless been valued and preserved.  Over the years, the governing body of the area has done well to require compliance with the zoning laws that thwarted overcrowding and overbuilding in the area.  Our current City leaders are soon likely to be faced with a challenge that will test their mettle.

As some (but not enough) community members know, the horse ranch on Desert Rose Way, at the end of 13th Street, was sold a few years ago to a developer, AJ Pacific Homes.  This is not a new phenomenon, other builders have purchased lots and built homes.  However, it was done with the intent of creating value to the neighborhood while maintaining strict compliance with the zoning laws and the wishes of the neighboring residents.  One such builder was Bob Booker of Venture Pacific, a local contractor who built probably more homes in the valley than any other company.

The difference with the former horse ranch is that the developer is snubbing its nose at the residents in the area, the intent of the zoning laws and the very heart of the community; its character.  When the property was first purchased, informal meetings were held at the office of the designer of the community.  A plan was laid out that called for 8-9 homes that would built on the 6-acre parcel.  The homes were to be consistent in design and on lots that met the minimum half acre per home.  There were obvious questions about style, size, access, impact on the community and the environmental impact.  While there are always those few folks who resist change, the project was viewed as perhaps an unavoidable progression.

The timing of this project is very crucial.  The property was purchased at the peak of the housing boom.  This means that the developer paid an inflated price for the property and was counting on selling the new homes for homes that cost in excess of two million dollars.  This was the figure that was talked about in the informal meetings.  It is interesting to note that Bob Booker passed on the purchase of the property because it didn’t “pencil out”.  His in-depth knowledge of the area and the market caused him to pass on the opportunity to purchase and develop the property.

Now, here we are, four years and one horrendous recession later and the developers are scrambling to salvage their investment.  Instead of the 8-9 homes that they initially talked about, they are using little-known loopholes in the State building laws to build 16 homes on that same parcel.  They know that the economy will no longer support the original price tag so they are simply doubling the number of homes to end up with the same bottom line profit.  It is painfully obvious that the lot size will not come close to the local zoning requirements.

The developers have retained the services of an attorney/environmentalist to put a positive spin on the project.  Speaking for the developers, his position seems to be that the addition of 16 homes to the area, along with the inherent streets, buildings, traffic, hardscape and congestion will actually improve the area.  He has repeatedly pointed out the detrimental effect that the horse property has on the adjacent stream and open space.  On a recent walk, he pointed out the hoof prints that were left on an open-space trail and commented on how detrimental to humans that might traverse that same trail.  Imagine, hoof prints in a community that is home to a multitude of horses!  His point was that the number of hoof prints would be diminished by ridding the community of the horse farm.  That is a given and frankly, old news.  There isn’t anyone in the neighborhood that has not resigned him/herself to the fact that the horse property is going away.

Also under the guise of “improving” the environment and the sensitive native wetlands, he scorned the trash, sawdust, manure and debris tossed into the stream.  The fact is that the developers have owned the land for about four years now.  If their concern is so great for the integrity of the streambed and the surrounding vegetation, why have they not cleaned it up or caused their tenant to clean it up?  Can the natural resources only be saved through the building of 16 new homes?

Within the first few steps of the walk with the developer’s attorney, he pointed out the negative effect that erosion is having on the stream bed.  That point is not arguable.  The problem is that with the addition of so many hard, non-absorbing surfaces, the addition of thousands of gallons of water per hour in a hard rain storm will only exacerbate the problem.  The developer has designed swales and other water collection systems that are intended to funnel the water into the existing creek.   It will be incumbent on the owners of each property to properly maintain their water-collection system.  Most likely they will be modified or even abandoned without any enforcement by a regulatory agency.  He said that there will be a homeowners association (HOA) to monitor and enforce.  An association of only 16 homes is too small for most community management companies to manage and many who serve communities of that size only serve their financial and bookkeeping needs.  It is doubtful that any community manager will devote the time and energy to enforce compliance.  When asked whether or not the system designed will contribute to the erosion problems downstream, he replied “Hopefully not”.

In order to provide a firebreak for the homes, the developer will be caused to build an 8-foot non-flammable wall around the community.  It is likely that it will be of a masonry product and will most certainly give the enclave the look of a prison more than an enhancement to the community.  In order to facilitate 16 homes, they will be spaced 5 feet from the property line, about the size of the average kitchen table.

Of grave concern to many of the families along the roadway leading to the development is the tremendous increase in traffic that will be added to the little two-lane road leading to it.  When asked about the increase in the “vehicle trips”, a calculation required but the impact studies, it was learned that with the addition of 16 homes, it was estimated that 250 vehicle trips per day would be made to the property.  This means that there will be a huge increase in the traffic on the already congested Rancho Santa Fe.

Lest you think that Olivenhain is a community of elitist NIMBY’s  the fact is that it is largely made up of working-class people, retirees and many people who have spent their lives here.  Those who have purchased here have worked hard to be able to afford to live in a rural area that is a reminder of a gentler past and will fight to preserve that environment for their heirs.

It has been said that all it takes for “evil” to succeed is for “good” to do nothing.  This is not to suggest that the developers are evil people but it is certainly clear that this project is not good for Olivenhain.  If the residents of Olivenhain fail to get involved, then this undesirable mass of homes will be built.  If you leave it to the most affected people to take up the challenge, the odds are that the opposition will fail.  If, as a neighbor, you allow somebody else to fight this battle, who will fight for you when someone comes up with an idea that will greatly impact your freedoms? Who will help  those who live along Rancho Santa Fe when someone gets the notion to make it a major thoroughfare with timed streetlights?  What if some misled environmentalist proposes doing away with horses in the community?  We must all get involved!  If you are able contribute money, time or a talent to the fight then please do so.  When it comes time to appear before the various commissions and ultimately the City Council, the number of people in the room will be a great factor in their decision-making process.  Show up!

Please go to SaveDesertRose.com to read more about what is going on.  Take the time to subscribe to the newsletter and make certain to attend critical meetings.

Together, we stand a chance of defeating this project!

 

Letter of Opposition to Mitigated Neg. Declaration from Greg Gorgas

1156 Via di Felicita
Encinitas, CA 92024

January 5, 2011

City of Encinitas
Planning and Building Department
505 South Vulcan Avenue
Encinitas, CA 92024

Subject: Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration –Desert Rose Subdivision

After a disappointing experience in the Citizen’s Participation meeting and a careful review of the Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration (Case No. 09-200 TMDB/DR), the Environmental Initial Study, and Initial Study and Environmental Checklist, I strongly implore the City of Encinitas Planning and Building Department to NOT approve the Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration or any aspect of the project until all the issues attached are satisfactorily addressed.

DNZ Partners failed to adequately address the serious, harmful and potentially lethal issues the proposed project will create for the existing neighboring residents, wildlife and habitat. The Draft Mitigation Negative Declaration falls short of adequately protecting Olivenhain from irresponsible development.

My reasons are attached. I am also including a rebuttal to the grossly misleading report from DNZ Partners concerning the sham of a Citizens Participation meeting May 2010.

Sincerely,

Gregory D. Gorgas

Attachments (2)
cc: Scott Vurbeff

Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration

Page 1 – III DETERMINATION.
No disclosure as to authors of the study. Why were existing residents not consulted on environmental issues or concerns such as noise abatement, fire safety, soils, vegetation, etc. when local residents have the most experience in dealing with the local environment? What provision is the City making to insure that all affected residents are aware and can comment (except snail mail among Christmas cards during a holiday period when many residents are on vacation). Notification timing is suspect.

Page 2, 3 – V MITIGATION, MONITORING AND REPORTING PROGRAM- 4 c. d. e.

c. Please define “adjacent” as a specific distance from native habitat and vegetation.

d. I thought “Dark-Sky Olivenhain” required all outdoor lighting to face downward. Why is this project exempt from the requirements of all other homeowners in the area?

e. What sufficient cat intrusion proof fencing exists today? Provide list of acceptable fencing contractors, types or fence, and studies which demonstrate a real commitment to this issue.

Page 3 – V MITIGATION, MONITORING AND REPORTING PROGRAM- 7 a, b

a. What provisions are made to prevent overnight or temporary staging parking of construction vehicles along Desert Rose Way?

b. “As clean as possible” and “regularly” are not objective and subject to interpretation. No enforcement provisions. Please provide specific instruction. Coyotes, skunks, and rodents will abound if trash is not removed daily.

Page 4 – V MITIGATION, MONITORING AND REPORTING PROGRAM- 9
What are the ongoing requirements to insure exotic pest plants do not get installed long after the developer has departed the project? Can the provision be added to the CC&Rs of the project?

Environmental Initial Study

Page 1 GLARING OMMISSION
Please include in the project description that 10 of 16 homes do not meet City of Encinitas Zoning standard requirements.

Page 1 DRAINAGE PROECTION INSUFFICIENT
I dispute the report conclusion. Natural drainage is not or cannot be protected by a wall. Much or the drainage occurs below grade and the developer has not made adequate mitigation plans.

Page 2 ROADWAY EXTENSION
Planned “improvement” is not an improvement at all. More concrete, less trees, more heat reflection from the road, less rural character cannot be construed as an improvement, except by those who stand to make money from the project. Based upon the 36 homeowners who verbally objected to the project at the second Citizens Participation Meeting, it is reasonable to assume not a single resident believes “improving” Dove Song Way is good for the community.

Page 2 MATURE RAPTOR TREE AND EXISTING HABITAT REMOVAL
Removal of 34 mature trees is unconscionable. The only fire resistant trees are metal ones. In keeping with the character of the project, the builder may wish to add metal structures in lieu of the vegetation that is planned for destruction. The trees are “nearly native” and have been part of the natural landscape of San Diego North County for well over a century. Some pines are native to our region.

Even the Olivenhain Meeting House property, which is a recognized California Historic Site, on Rancho Santa Fe Road boasts dozens of mature eucalyptus. The project represents gross inconsistency with respect to trees. The tree removal is for the convenience of the builder and not for the beauty of the neighborhood. If 16 homes were not planned for the site, I doubt all 34 trees would be removed. In fact, if custom homes were being built, the City would require the trees NOT be removed (as has been the custom of the City’s Planning Department regarding mature raptor nesting trees, including eucalyptus). Planning records validate this fact.

Fire safety is a concern of the community. Adding 16 homes is a greater fire risk than 34 trees. Increased traffic and parking from 50 or more cars poses a serious threat to the safety of the existing residents. One errant spark from a backyard BBQ, especially if the BBQ has invited guests, could make timely exiting the community in an emergency difficult if not impossible. Two solutions:

  1. I recommend the City of Encinitas work with the City of Carlsbad toprovide a second escape route along the northern boundary of the project. The path could be gated and only to be used in the case of emergency (similar to the one between Double L estates and The Ranch). Installation of this proposed emergency escape road must be a condition for approval of the development.
  2. Reduce the number of homes to 12 on the basis of fire safety (even if all 34 trees are still required to be removed).

Page 3 LOW INCOME PROVISION
The City should require the builder to make every lot not in compliance with the 1/2 area minimum to be a smaller low income residence. This is still compliant within the State of California permissibility for higher density, actually provides meaningful impact to housing low income families, and would be more in keeping with the character of the community. Sixteen 5,000 square foot homes merely 10 feet apart, with one token low income house, make a mockery of State law. The City should strongly consider the additional low income option proposed herein.

Page 5 SOILS
At least 6 swimming pools in the surrounding homes that I am aware of (probably more) have required retrofitting due to expansive soils and shifting earth. The removal and replacement of soil does not adequately address the severe nature of the problem in the neighborhood. Existing guidance for dealing with expansive soils from the City has been inadequate thus far as evidenced by the numerous challenges currently existing in the neighborhood.

Environmental Checklist

Attachment 3 Page 1. I. a and b..

Scenic vista would be destroyed by tree removal. Potentially significant impact should have been checked. Survey the neighbors for a more objective assessment.

Attachment 3 Page 1. I. c.

Substantial degrade of the existing visual character and quality of the neighborhood. One has to travel several miles from the site to locate “detached condos” similar to the 16 homes less than 10 feet apart planned by the developer. Completion of this development, as proposed, will have a substantial impact on home values and neighborhood quality. I will be seeking a property values reassessment to lower my taxes if this project is approved as planned.

Attachment 3 Page 1. I. d.

Nighttime glare will be substantial from the combination of 16 new homes crammed intothe tiny space and the addition of street lights..

Attachment 3 Page 2 III. a.

Most of the trips generated by 16 homes (at least 160) will occur around 8am and between 3-6pm. 13th is the only real access to the community. Not only is this a fire safety risk (explained earlier) but it also poses a safety treat to drivers exiting from Via di Felicita on to Desert Rose as the steep hill makes for limited visibility. Visibility will be further confounded by the 16 new residences encroaching onto Desert Rose as insufficient parting provisions were provided by the builder. Suggest the City consider traffic calming measure to lower traffic safety risk as well as red curb or “no parking” area at the northwest intersection of Via Di Felicita and Desert Rose.

Attachment 3 Page 3. IV. a, b and d.

How can one not identify “Substantial Significant Impact” to riparian and raptor habitat when all 34 trees (mature 30-60 foot) are to be removed and replaced with 15 gallon slow growing fire retardant (but not fire proof) shrubs?

Attachment 3 Page 6. VII. h.

The access roads (13th street, C street and Desert Rose) were not built to safely sustain the flood of vehicles trying to escape the neighborhood in the event of a wildfire. It is irresponsible to approve the plan without a second escape route to the northern boundary of the site.

Attachment 3 Page 6 VIII. b.

New runoff will further erode the faulty foundation and sliding pavement on the east side of Via Di Felicita immediately after crossing the tributary to Escondido Creek. Recommend the develper be required to refortify the slope along the tributary to prevent further erosion which will occur from additional water washing down the already unstable bank.

Attachment 3 Page 9. XI a and c.

NOISE POLUTION STUDY NOT CONDUCTED AND ANYONE KNOWLEDGEABLE OF THE VALLEY WOULD INSIST ON HAVING ONE. This is a major issue and unique to the specific amphitheater of this Olivenhain valley.

Attachment 3 Page XII. a.

It is false that the City of Encinitas envisioned 16 homes (virtual condos) on this site as it is zoned half acre minimum. It is inconsistent with the City’s General Plan and the character of the Olivenhain community.

Attachment 3 Page XV. a. d.

Increase traffic has significant adverse impact on congestion, intersection safety risk, noise, toxic pollutants, etc. Do not create another Lone Jack on 13th Street! Sharp curves were not intended to handle the substantial increase in 2-way traffic. New tract homes projected to double existing traffic volume. Substantial safety risk foreseen and none of us want to lose a loved one only to be able to tell the City “we told you so.”

Attachment 3 Page XV. e.

INSUFFICIENT ON-SITE PARKING IMPACT NOT FOUND IN ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT. This will directly result in inadequate emergency access. Perhaps the City can stipulate that all street parking for the 16 residences must be within their private road cul-de-sac of the development? Or will the City commit to designate the very sparse parking on Desert Rose and Via di Felicita only by permit? Permits would only be issued for residences who live on those streets. I cannot over emphasize how significant this issues is to the community with respect to safety and quality of life.

Attachment 3 Page XVII. a. c.

Completely changes the character of the existing habitat for humans and wildlife.

Attachment 3 Page XVII. c.

Property value reduction, as a direct result of the installation of the 16 single family homes where neighbors can pass a cup of sugar just by opening their windows, directly and adversely affects existing residents. Property values have already decreased. Further reduction jeopardizes the ability of some residents to stay in their homes. Will the builder or the City compensate for loss in value? If the City determines the proposed “condo project” will not cause substantial adverse effects on human beings (including irreparable financial disaster), what measures is the City prepared to stand behind to insure the well being of its citizens?

Issue: Public Safety and Risk of Death/Injury from Domestic and/or Wildfires

Problem: 09-200 TMDB/DR project of DZN PARTNERS DEVELOPMENT

(Woodbridge Farms Estates)

Neighborhood Position: DNZ Partners proposed plan puts existing Olivenhain

residents at unacceptable public safety risk for death/injury by fire.

Proposed solution: Reduce density from 16 homes to 9-12 homes in compliance with

density ordinance for local zoning.

Discussion: Much of the discussion is based upon a grossly misleading Citizen’s Participation Report (May 12, 2010) written solely by DNZ Partners as well as the Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration. Many passionate residents, who lived in Olivenhain during the fires of October 2007, expressed real concern over access to our neighborhood, including emergency vehicles and the fire department. DNZ Partners failed to adequately address this at the meeting or in their report. We request a more complete evaluation of the issue, with more community involvement and neighborhood discussion with fire safety and police authorities.

We are aware that our proximity to protected native and dry vegetation in designated open space poses a high fire danger to the residents of our Olivenhain community. For verification, check with any property insurer for or resident in our neighborhood. While we assumed the significant risk when we built or moved into this community, the DNZ building plan places an unacceptable escalation of fire danger to the community.

Specifically, access and egress is confounded by narrow and virtually useless road (14th Street), funneling onto Desert Rose Way, and congestion on RSF road. The fire department needs to hear about the real world of issues in this community from the residents who live here and have experienced local traffic congestion.

The DNZ Partners falsely assert there are multiple ways to access their property. This is grossly misleading. It is the same as asserting there are a dozen ways to get to the neighborhood. Sure coming to any address can have as many different routes as there are origination points; however, the fact remains that as one approaches the destination, all paths lead to one.

Their reference to the access off Rancho Santa Fe Road onto 13th & 14th Streets fails to highlight that both funnel to only one access road, Desert Rose Way. And that the funnel occurs at considerable distance from the proposed project. For the majority of the residents and for the majority of the length of the road, there is one way in or out of the community. DNZ Partner’s statements leave the false impression that citizens will enjoy two access points. In reality, while there are two ways to leave RSF Road, there remains only one access to our community via Desert Rose Way. While someone looking at a Thomas Guide map, who does not live in the community, and unfamiliar with the neighborhood or topography may conclude there will be multiple traffic patterns, the DNZ report does not reflect a comprehension of the issue reasonable, honest, and local residents raised at the meeting.

With few exceptions, the majority of residents use 13th Street. Also, 14th Street is barely wider than some driveways in spots, has very abrupt turns, speed bumps, and is not a road marked with a dividing line. It is hardly good for daily traffic, let alone emergency vehicles, especially with the speed bumps. Simply, 14th Street cannot be perceived as a reasonable emergency access to the community. Furthermore, if it were to receive increased daily traffic it would pose significant risk to families and their pets that live on a very quiet 14th Street. It is the duty of the City (and reasonable to assume the responsibility of reputable developers) to show concern for and take steps to protect the safety of the residents. The majority of this community has one access road only. Even knowing that there are two roads from RSF Road, the path is so long along Desert Rose, that to sate or imply two access roads in preposterous and illusory. To state or imply otherwise is untruthful, ignorant, and deceptive.

In the context of fire risk, imagine a birthday party for a six-year-old girl with 20 of her friends with a blow up Jumpy Gym in the family’s driveway, or consider a graduation celebration for a La Costa High School student with 30 of his friends, or the well attended BBQ for a gentleman’s 50th birthday. Now imagine a brush fire raging during a party or several celebrations all occurring on the same weekend. Scary, thought, when one thinks about the hundreds of lives which could be affected. And all those who permit or advocate for unacceptable risk are culpable for setting up this catastrophe!

Since there is very limited parking for the 16 or more homes the developer proposes and the significant grid lock traffic and parking congestion challenge it will inevitably create, how can any reasonable developer proceed with 16 or 17 homes when the very lives of the residents are at stake? How could a City Planning Department approve without fully appreciating the grave danger it is placing upon the taxpaying citizens of the community? Ask the parents of the six-year-old girl or the proud family with a La Costa HS graduate, or the grandchildren of Grandpa celebrating his birthday after their lives and dreams are burnt to a crisp and go up in smoke.

If one feels my comments are disproportionately passionate or inflamed, that person obviously did not experience the fires in the way we evacuated Olivenhain residents did in 2007. DNZ Partners admitted they do not live in our rural community and that they live in a dense community near the ocean. The State density bonus was created in Sacramento to help provide quality living for all residents in this great State The lawmakers would be the first to also insure that the letter of the law, or in this case taking advantage of it, did not put such a burden on a community that being trapped in a hellish fire would be the result. The State law never intended to place an undue public safety issue on the backs the local community wishing to provide lower income housing.

Who, besides a greedy conscienceless developer, would knowingly support or place innocent residents in grave danger of burning, trapped by fire and ultimately death? While some may not perceive any liability or express lack of concern, I am presently appealing to a sense of responsibility and to the City’s lawful duties and moral responsibility. I doubt the State density provision will protect anyone from legal action in the case of untimely deaths as the result of negligence, poor planning, or unreasonable decisions. DNZ Partner’s insurer should also be forewarned. Finally, on the issue of fire risk, if the governing fire authorities require a non-combustible firewall along the East and North of the property, doesn’t placing brush and other vegetation on, over, or closely to it, as DNZ Partners recommends, to screen the wall defeat it’s purpose?

In summary, the density of homes proposed by DNZ Partners poses an unacceptable public safety risk. The narrow streets, limited access, existing homes, and proximity to combustible native vegetation contribute to a neighborhood which cannot accommodate 16 more homes without significant roadway modification all the way to Rancho Santa Fe Road. Approval of the TM from DNZ Partners should not be granted.

Issue: Public Safety and Inadequate Parking Planning

Problem: 09-200 TMDB/DR project of DZN PARTNERS DEVELOPMENT

(Woodbridge Farms Estates)

Neighborhood Position: DNZ Partners proposed plan puts existing Olivenhain residents at unacceptable public safety risk with inadequate plans and unreasonable assumptions regarding residential parking.

Proposed solution: Reduce density from 16 homes to 9-12 homes in compliance with density ordinance for local zoning.

Discussion: Parking, while partially concerning in the context of fire danger, deserves specific comments to correct DNZ Partners inadequate, ignorant and incomplete reporting and to provide neighborhood perspective on the issue. With respect to the parking issue DNZ needs a reality check! They assert a 2 or 3 car garage provides ample parking for the resident’s own vehicles plus additional guest parking for 3,000 – 5,000 square foot homes. Hogwash. Was this meant as a joke? Most residents barely fit their own vehicles in their garage. And if they do, there is no room for guests. Expect a minimum three vehicles per homeowner per residence and reasonably expect additional parking needs for local visitors, service workers, and temporary additional guests (students home from college, grandparents, and snowbird relatives).

The average home of 5,000 square feet will need a three car garage and even if the residents were able to park in their garage, just two guests at each house would be over whelming. Desert Rose Way has very limited street parking and only for a minor portion of the road. As posted by the City, Via Di Felicita has no roadway parking. 13th and C Street also have no street parking. Other than bussing in from the local shopping center, how are residents and guests reasonably expected to park in the neighborhood. The DNZ Partner’s position demonstrates poor planning at best and outright disregard for the neighborhood at worst.

The street parking is only on one side of the road. How many vehicles (average size of Chevy pick up truck, Lexus SUV, Ford minivan and BMW sedan, not just a Mini or Prius) can fit on the street parking? Is it 10, is it 18, or is it 16? If 16 then each resident would have at maximum one street parking space. Wow! I hope the gardeners, the pool cleaners, and the pest control folks can work out a schedule! Maybe the CC&R’s of the neighborhood can figure how to ration the few parking accommodations the builder has made?

How many vehicles are owned by the average prospective buyer in your target market? Does DNZ still intend to build homes ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 square feet? If so, most will have at least two to three vehicles (some with teenagers could have double that amount), not to mention the occasional motorcycle, boat, Jet Ski and ATV trailer, or camper. This is a real world issue; if DNZ does not intend to disclose this significant problem their buyers, it may require some of us to take measures to provide the market with more “truth in disclosure.” Buyer beware. Be on the alert and watch for signs, lawn placards, literature, media and other methods to inform prospective buyers that NO PARKING is an issue for the vulnerable density bonus buyers, deceived by the developer. Have DNZ Partners driven the rest of the neighborhood? Note the extensive amount of horse trails and the noticeable lack of street parking, as posted. This is not Hillcrest or even Carmel Valley. If DNZ continues on this path we will be forced to inform their buyers… maybe too late to save our neighborhood, but plenty of time to insure they do not profit from their rapacious scam. Even if the DNZ Partners dump their property to another developer, this issue should be disclosed to their potential buyer. It is my understanding that this document will be officially part of the City records and that any prospective buyer will have access to the comments, opinions and views of the adversely affected citizens of Olivenhain regarding the 09-200 TM.

In summary, inadequate parking is synonymous with the DNZ TM. It is time to change their plan, time for DNZ to get a reality check, and time to reduce the density from 16 or 17 homes down to a reasonable 9-12 residences.

Issue: Low income housing, density, and property values

Problem: 09-200 TMDB/DR project of DZN PARTNERS DEVELOPMENT

(Woodbridge Farms Estates)

Neighborhood Position: DNZ Partners proposed plan puts existing Olivenhain residents at unacceptable financial foreclosure risk with inadequate plans and unreasonable assumptions regarding low income housing.

Proposed solution: Reduce density from 16 homes to 9-12 homes in compliance with density ordinance for local zoning.

Discussion: DNZ Partner’s representation at the Citizen Participation meeting clearly demonstrated an attempt to skirt the issue that 63% (10 of 16) of the homes do not meet City of Encinitas zoning code, that the homes are to be approximately 10 feet apart (similar to Ocean Beach), and that the lot size of some their properties are similar to the square feet of some of the homes represented by the residents who attended the meeting.

At the meeting on which DNZ purport to fully report on, as much as 25% of the meeting was devoted to the 10-feet spacing issue, including the visual representation of distance measured in ceiling tiles, yet you failed to even mention it in your report! Negligence in reporting and omission of the facts. In the meeting, DNZ only acknowledged this issue reluctantly at the repetitive persistence of the local residents. All 36 homeowners in attendance will recall their appalling, arrogant, and evasive behavior. The City and local media should be made aware of DNZ’s disreputable actions and take a very careful look at their documents and meeting reports, like the one which caused me to write this correction and clarification letter. DNZ Partner’s has demonstrated low credibility and a high propensity for willful deceit.

Let me also state that I am not opposed to low-income housing. However, this development does very little if anything to provide low income homes in the City of Encinitas. Can we call it what it is? DNZ is using the letter of the law to rape an Olivenhain community out of their own selfish greed. DNZ is all too willing to sacrifice our home values, peaceful and rural lifestyle, and the future of our community… not to help the poor, but to “make the project work” as you stated in the meeting. The project will work better with fewer homes.

I support the City of Encinitas and our community providing nice affordable housing for low-income residents. When a crafty developer who wants to leverage the poor to fill their pockets through a State density bonus scam, the City should stipulate that each property which does not meet the lot size minimums must be built for low-income residents. State law trumps City zoning, however, there is nothing to my knowledge to prevent the City from additionally mandating that when a developer wants to cram 16 or 17 homes into an area the zoning would only permit half as many homes, that the developer must designate every lot which does not meet City zoning as “low-income.”

In this case, DNZ would be building 10 or 11 low-income homes and 5 or 6 high-income homes and receive positive reception from those of us who support doing something meaningful to support low-income residents. DNZ’s plan does not meaningfully and positively address the community’s need for additional low-income homes. DNZ is shamelessly taking advantage of the plight of the poor.

While addressing the issues herein, I believe DNZ can make the project work with 9-12 high value homes and if you did, you may find nearly all of the opposition in the community to the project dissipates. Many local residents are available and willing to consult on the development project, via another Citizen Participation meeting. DNZmay, in fact, not just make the same financial return with fewer homes, a revised plan can earn more. I encourage DNZ to work with the residents and the City to develop analternative plan and present that to the community and the City. Nine residences at $1.8 million exceeds their plan of 16 homes valued on average at $850 thousand apiece.

With respect to home values, of course DNZ assert “it is the applicant’s position that this project will not lower the property values of the surrounding neighborhood.” Really? Willing to set aside funds to compensate adversely affected residents? Of course, DNZ does not even have the decency of BP when taking accountability for the loss of livelihood in the Gulf. The DNZ position must be one of convenience and not one of conviction. Again, DNZ is willing to trade their rapacious greed for the livelihood and future well being of the surrounding community. I am not speaking about the low income housing here specifically. DNZ is leveraging one low-income home for a 16 high-density housing tract and permanent scarring of a community. The DNZ scheme is merely being proposed as a tool to trump city zoning in order to cram 16 homes into an area our incorporation set aside for less than a dozen homes.

The property value issue is based upon your tentative map plan for a pocket of OB to be dropped into the middle of rural Olivenhain. This deserves significant media attention as DNZ is committing a disservice to the community and they feigned “support” of low income housing is a mockery. I understand their need and opportunity as a developer to make a good living, but their plan is outrageous. In truth, DNZ’s “low-income” plan is only for their personal high-income.

Approval of DNZ density bonus plan is a scam our neighborhood and our community cannot afford. The plight of the poor is mocked by their intentions. The City should further mandate that any home not meeting setback and space requirements should be a low income home. I would accept low income housing and the commensurate reduction in property value if I knew my sacrifice was charitable. But I cannot accept the scam proposed by DNZ Partners. I ask the City to either do something meaningful for low income or do not approve the density bonus to destroy value in Olivenhain.

Issue: Noise, CC&Rs, vegetation, public health and safety, and raptor nesting

Problem: 09-200 TMDB/DR project of DZN PARTNERS DEVELOPMENT

(Woodbridge Farms Estates)

Neighborhood Position: DNZ Partners proposed plan burdens existing Olivenhain residents with unacceptable environmental pollution as a direct result of overcrowding, inadequate plans for noise, public health and safety.

Proposed solution: Mitigate environmental issues which will be partially addressed by permitting only 9-12 homes in compliance with density ordinance for local zoning.

Discussion: While a noise study may not required by statute, as residents we believe the DNZ development plan requires an exception. Because of the unique topography of the valley, the residents live in a virtual amphitheater. In the valley, sound travels with more crispness, greater clarity, and with a much further reach than in other topographies and we appeal to the City to mandate a proper noise study be conducted, specifically for this project and in this neighborhood.

If our assertion has merit, then we ask you to require DNZ Partners implement sufficient noise abatement provisions in their CC&Rs. Normal conversation echoes throughout the neighborhood. Now consider 16 additional stereos, TVs, and outdoor speakers, 16 new barking dogs, 16 lawnmowers, leaf blowers, saws and other power tools, 16 BBQs or one big block party. I’d rather live in the flight pattern of Palomar Airport. Regarding the visual vegetation barrier, again, the DNZ Citizen Participation report did not adequately address the issue raised by the local homeowners, many of whom the City required to maintain the raptor nesting trees. There was a good reason the City mandated preservation of the trees. Despite DNZ’s claim that they will “work with the City to maintain as much as of the existing visual vegetation barrier along Desert Rose Way and Dove Song Way as possible,” it is, in fact, their hiding behind a scheme of density bonus for 16 homes that is the real problem. DNZ’s vain attempt to pass the responsibility onto the City is weak and despicable. If I were in the City Planning Department, I’d be quite appalled and offended. DNZ is claiming “The City made me do it” while their rapacious scarring of the community is the real culprit.

It is my understanding that most of the beautiful, mature, raptor nesting eucalyptus trees will now be removed. DNZ did not acknowledge this; yet it was brought up by a resident at the meeting. Their tentative map calls for a scarred earth with stair stepped lots and significant stripping of the land leaving the area barren of mature vegetation. The is an environmental disaster. Even the adjacent Carlsbad homes they referenced in their report are not stacked only 10 feet apart. And just because DNZ may locate an example of homes built too close together does not justify the City approving their tentative map in the Olivenhain community.

Not only does this clear-cutting adversely affect the attractiveness of the neighborhood, we also expect less raptor activity and a commensurate increase in the rodent population. Why the City insisted we not destroy a single raptor nesting tree and then permit DNZ to clear cut several dozen is outrageous. Lack of raptor nesting is a real environmental travesty. Another issue prospective buyers may need to have disclosed through media attention and other means?

While the DNZ project’s CC&Rs may require poison bait stations to compensate for the owls and hawks vacating the area, I believe this is a very unnatural and an environmentally offensive approach to public safety. In addition, drainage from irrigation runoff will adversely affect the whole community, especially those living along the West Nile Virus mosquito breeding ground of the drainage that travels under Via Di Felicita and southward along several communities. The DNZ project plan increases risk unacceptably for public safety and health.

Continuing on DNZ’s current path will no doubt fuel passion from local residents. I predict their income from the project will be adversely affected through delays, negative media, and an unwelcome stance from the community. I predict adversely affected residents will use all legal and civil activities to treat them and their project in the same way they have affronted us. DNZ Partners demonstrated complete distain for the will of the neighborhood. Their greedy lust and reckless efforts will be their undoing, as they selected the wrong neighborhood to destroy.

Prospective buyers, Olivenhain residents, and environmentally sensitive voters in Encinitas must be informed that DNZ Partners is attempting a development travesty intending no public good and only private gain, and all at the expense of the existing neighbors. Approval of the plan should not move forward at this time. Limited parking will be forever an issue, the community will be at increased risk for being burned alive, and that the project increases the threat of disease from mosquitoes and rodents. Citizens will learn that the DNZ Project CC&Rs will eventually need to address noise, may limit pet ownership, and curtail the opportunity to have parties (except when the residents can bus in their guests). Someone needs to inform prospective buyers.

We are not opposed to responsible development; however, the DNZ Partners Tentative Map is irresponsible. They have demonstrated a complete lack of willingness to work with the community and an almost gleeful distain for the residents their rapacious project is about to produce in irreparable harm. We ask for responsible development with proper and complete studies, factual analysis, and positive community engagement.

Citizens Participation Meeting Thurs Jan 20 @ 7pm

Important Information!! Citizens Participation Meeting regarding the Proposed Woodridge Farms Estates on Thursday, January 20 starting 7:00.  Please come early (starting 6:00) and sign in with Julie Graboi at the door, to collect information! Any questions, Call Julie at 760-436-7818

Local neighbors and friends negotiated for another meeting with developers after an unsatisfactory, 1-hour, developer lead  ”Final Meeting.”  Please attend this meeting and inform neighbors of this opportunity to share concerns and ask questions about the proposed, 17-lot development in a 9-lot zoned parcel.  A number of the units are identified in the plan as “Low Income,” and “Very Low Income.”  Be aware that this proposed development will impact the property value of this area, wildlife, traffic, parking, housing density, safety, zoning, and the Olivenhain Lifestyle!

See you on Thursday, January 20 after 6 PM at Encinitas City Hall in the Poinsettia Room!

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City of Encinitas Planning Commission Meetings

The City of Encinitas Planning Commission meetings are every 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month.

Here are the dates for 2011:

  • January 6, 20
  • February 3, 17
  • March 3, 17
  • April 7, 21
  • May 5, 19
  • June 2, 16
  • July 7, 21
  • August 4, 18
  • September 1, 15
  • October 6, 20
  • November 3, 17
  • December 1, 15

Notice to the City of Encinitas of Significant Environmental Impact from Dan Graboi

Desert Rose Deer

Deer at Dana Rullo Horse Stables

I am a homeowner who has lived across from the subject property for over 20 years. The proposed  Initial Environmental plan in which a “Negative Declaration” of significant impact is proposed has omitted information concerning impact to wildlife and habitat.  By packing 16 homes, most of which are 10-feet apart, into a crowded area zoned for 9 homes, there will certainly be a great impact to the existing aesthetics of the neighborhood, which currently consists of open land, rural zoned land, and RR-2 zoned land. In addition there will be significant impact to existing wetlands, existing wildlife, noise, night lighting and traffic. In this letter, I wish to discuss impacted wildlife that was not mentioned in the Initial Plan.

The subject property is part of a wildlife habitat in which many animals and plants live. In addition to the magnificent raptors mentioned in the report, our family has seen large owls, mule deer, bobcats, snakes of several varieties, and many types of other birds. From time to time these wild animals have wandered across the street to our property – see pictures below.

To destroy the many existing magnificent old-growth trees in the area and scrape, terrace and grade this land, and add high-density housing that violates the existing quality of life as well as existing zoning laws will of course destroy an important habitat and preserve for wildlife in our neighborhood. Since there was no mention in the Initial Plan of many types of wildlife that in fact are present, the Initial Plan must be judged invalid:  A proper and formal EIR needs to be conducted, where there is serious attention, rather than lip service, paid to actual existing  habitat and wildlife on the property and the significant impact that would result to the habitat by clearing and grading the land, erecting a firewall , adding roads, houses, terraces, traffic, noise, and night-lighting. It is not acceptable to do away with this preserve by merely buying credits which may help preserve other habitats in other areas. This habitat is a very rare gem in Encinitas – it should not be destroyed just to make a few outside developers some money.

Respectfully submitted,

Dan Graboi, Ph.D.
Olivenhain Homeowner
1314 Desert Rose Way

Encinitas, CA 92024

Desert Rose Deer

Deer off Desert Rose Way

Desert Rose White Heron

Desert Rose White Heron

Letter opposing Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration from Mark H. Bramson

January 4, 2011

City of Encinitas
Planning and Building Department
505 South Vulcan Avenue
Encinitas, CA 92024

Subject: Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration –Desert Rose Subdivision

I have reviewed the Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration (Case No. 09-200 TMDB/DR), the Environmental Initial Study, and Initial Study and Environmental Checklist that are now available for public review.

The Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration should not be approved at this time.

My analysis indicates that a number of conclusions contained in the Declaration and supporting documents are not supported by the data and logic presented in these documents. There are a number of items in these documents that require additional data and/or explanation. In addition, there are omissions relating to corrective policies and a there is no discussion about the impact of the emissions aspect of the construction process.

My comments are attached.

Sincerely,

Mark H. Bramson

Attachments (2)
cc: Scott Vurbeff

Comments on Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration

Comments on Initial Study and Environmental Checklist