Imagine a Rancho Santa Fe Village with ample parking, slower cars, welcoming walkways and a variety of goods and services.
This is a vision laid out in the Village Master Plan, which the association's planning committee developed with staff and community input over several years.
Adopted by the board of directors in 2006, the planning document recently became part of the discussion surrounding the proposed mixed-used Lilian development.
The master plan identifies the proposed project site as an opportunity for expanding retail and parking in the Village as long as it maintains compatibility with the surrounding historic character.
The project applicant's team argued this was grounds for approving the project, which included ground-floor retail and seven residential units.
When the board firmly disagreed, some community members questioned the purpose and authority of the master plan.
The plan is a guide, not a binding document, said General Manager Pete Smith.
"The Village Master Plan is not one of the governing documents," Smith said. "It's not part of the rules and regulations."
Titled "Village Master Plan: A vision to guide the future," the document represents only one possible path forward and was intended to be revised as necessary, association directors said. Any ideas the community wants to implement will require separate approval.
For example, the streetscape improvements completed earlier this year, including extending the median on Paseo Delicias and installing curb pop-outs at La Granda and El Tordo, were included in the master plan, but granted separate board approval.
The planning committee continues to consider other elements in the plan, such as looking for ways to increase parking and encouraging more retail throughout the Village.
Director Bill Beckman, who served on the planning committee towards the end of the master plan's development said the broad plan included ideas ranging from small landscaping improvements to grand ideas like buying office space to convert it to retail.
"It's a big menu to pick from," Beckman said. "Many, many things can be achieved in the Village that are truly beneficial to association members, but I don't think everything in the Village Master Plan can be achieved, nor should it."
More retail desired
There seems to be a desire among residents for a more balanced commercial center, with more retail and restaurant and less office use, planning committee member Marion Dodson said.
The planning committee is talking more seriously about the best way to help encourage that balance, she said. A major hurdle to overcome is that retail shops cannot afford to pay the high rents that real estate offices can.
As a property owner and resident, Dodson said he favors incentivizing property owners to increase retail or restaurant uses, rather than the association purchasing property.
"It's something talked about quite a bit," Dodson said. "I'm encouraged there may be a meeting of minds."
However, it all comes down to parking. Without it, property owners will be unable to increase retail or restaurant uses.