Where exactly does a senior care facility belong?
"Not in our neighborhood," according to residents of The Lakes development off Rancho Santa Fe Farms Road and a 10-year-old specific plan for Pacific Highlands Ranch.
Potential neighbors to the proposed facility, off Carmel Valley Road, say a senior care center will only bring traffic and noise to their low-density, somewhat rural community.
The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board's regional issues subcommittee is split on the issue. While some feel the facility could be compatible with the neighborhood if granted a conditional use permit, others say the specific plan is, well, specific - that the use is inappropriate in this particular residential neighborhood.
"We made assurances to the public that this is exactly what you're going to get, no surprises," said Jan Fuchs, subcommittee co-chair who was part of the group who carefully crafted the plan.
Resident Carla Nassoff, speaking on behalf of The Lakes homeowner's association, said that the senior facility is, in fact, a surprise.
"This is a no surprise zone," Nassoff said.
The Health Care Group plans to bring the facility to the 2.2-acre parcel on Carmel Valley Road. They bring their case to the planning board's next meeting Jan. 13.
Several changes have been made to the project since it was originally proposed, according to Kevin Moriarty, Health Care Group's vice president of development.
The buildings have been scaled back from two stories to one story, slicing the average height almost in half, from 30 feet to a 16-foot average.
The square footage has also decreased from over 40,000 square feet to 28,000 square feet, Moriarty said.
When the planning board last reviewed the project in September, a main concern was the center's parking. Spaces have increased from 34 to 42, with two additional disabled parking spaces.
"We are really trying hard to create a friendly use that is not intrusive," Moriarty said.
Moriarty argued that something will be built on this site whether it is their project or not.
Board member Scott Tillson speculated that the land could accommodate 8 to 10 homes.
Seven neighbors voiced their concerns about the project.
Nassoff said a disruption would be caused by delivery trucks and emergency vehicles "daily at all hours."
Other neighbors fear there will be constant traffic in and out with transport vans, doctor visits, family visits and staff shift changes.
One neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the senior facility would depreciate the value of her property.
The discussion became heated when Moriarty stated his belief on the real reasons behind their objections: "It's the fact that old people are going to be living next to them and all that entails."
The neighbors present all groaned that his statement was untrue. Moriarty later apologized for the comment.
The board's Pacific Highlands Ranch representative Manjeet Ranu said he felt the use could be appropriate with some major tweaking to the architecture - which in the past was compared to a "Motel 6" - to make it better match Pacific Highlands Ranch theme.
Board member Ken Farinksy said the proposed facility is probably better than a single-family residential development on the "awful piece of property."
"But if neighbors are opposed to it, I can't go along with it," Farinsky said. "If this board can't make a decision, it's a sign that we shouldn't support something."