CV Planning board asks Pardee to ‘punch up’ modern look of proposed PHR homes

Pardee Homes' new development in Pacific Highlands Ranch will match the architecture of the Sendero neighborhood.

Pardee Homes is beginning its development plans for the lot once reserved to house a new school in Pacific Highlands Ranch.

During an April 23 Zoom board meeting, the Carmel Valley Community Planning board reviewed the plans for Pardee’s “Unit 22 B” development for a second time and asked Pardee to return for a third time with architectural enhancements due to their concerns with the more modern design aesthetic.

The approved tentative map for Unit 22 B, located off Carmel Valley Road and Rancho Santa Fe Farms Road, provided for development on the site should the school district choose not to exercise its option to build a school.

Last October, the Solana Beach School District decided not to build its eighth school on the property after two years worth of discussion and analysis, workshops and community meetings. The district faced a budget shortfall to build the new school and decided to use its existing facilities to ride out the enrollment wave generated by new Pacific Highlands Ranch homes.

The site was originally approved for 76 lots, ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet. Pardee is seeking changes to the tentative map, site development permit and planned development permit to add five units for a total of 81 homes and to provide a vehicular connection from Golden Cypress Place to Rancho Santa Fe Farms Road. The changes will also provide one additional affordable unit offsite at Del Mar Highlands Estates.

According to Allen Kashani, director of project management at Pardee Homes, the modified plan is consistent with land use, zoning and density for the property. The planned architecture for the 81 homes is set to match Sendero, the 112-home development of “elegant modern Americana” style homes off Pacific Highlands Ranch Parkway.

“We feel very confident in what we’re proposing. Sendero has been our best seller thus far in PHR,” said Kashani, noting that the first five releases of about 16 homes each all sold out on the first day. “Nothing has done as well as this product.”

Kashani said he believes the product will be very successful and he was looking for the board’s support for the plan that night. The board was hesitant to move forward with an approval due to their concerns about the modern architecture, which were also expressed at their last meeting in February.

Carmel Valley Planning Board Vice Chair Barry Schultz said the architecture feels “very flat,”particularly in the rear of the homes.

“When you have a hundred homes looking like that it’s pretty bland and when you compare that to other homes in the neighborhood that were built earlier, there’s a little bit more articulation and visual interest there,” Schultz said. “My issue is the cumulative visual impact…we’ve gone from no houses and no development out there to what seems to be one big long white wall and that’s my concern.”

Pacific Highlands Ranch board representative Danielle McCallion agreed about the overall look of the development—she said when she looks out from her “old, classic” Santa Rosa neighborhood, “It just seems like a whitewash out there.”

“I would like to see more like what you did with Olvera and Almeria with the farmhouse look, where not every house looks the same and maybe every third or fourth house looks similar,” McCallion said.

During public comment, Pacific Highlands Ranch resident Karen Dubey also weighed in, saying that the modern style was not in the community plan. “I’m not happy that they’re bringing these houses over to the nicer area,” Dubey said, requesting that the homes to be closer in style to the neighboring Casabella development, which is a mix of coastal and Spanish architecture.

Dubey suggested that Pardee could soften the modern style with the use of more wood and metal articulations and upgraded front and garage doors.

Carmel Valley Planning Board Chair Frisco White said he didn’t think Pardee needed to completely redesign the new development but asked that they consider “punching up” the architecture to add more visual interest such as alternating designs and colors, adding more three-dimensional articulations and bringing more “residential character” to the buildings so they look less commercial.

Tiffany Finstad, a project manager for Pardee, said there’s a lot that they can do to enhance the elevations and provide more articulation—Pardee expects the board to be happy with the changes they plan to make before the next meeting.

“We’ve moved on from Casabella collection and we’ve moved on in what we think is a very positive way, we love this… Nothing has done better than this, this is why we want to build this,” Kashani said. “We recognize art is subjective and this may not be for everyone but we’re trying to find what we can do to meet in the middle, we want to work with (the board) where we can.”

At the meeting the board also approved Pardee’s plans to add an additional seven affordable and six market rate housing units to Del Mar Highlands Estates, located on the east end of Pacific Highlands Ranch on Old El Camino Real. The minor changes to the site development and planned development permit will result in total of 26 units in the project, 20 of them affordable.

“The modifications will provide more opportunities for entry-level homes,” Kashani said. “This will help us better meet the needs of San Diego homebuyers, creates critical affordable multi-family units and provides additional housing to a highly desirable community.”

In total there are 753 planned affordable housing units in Pacific Highlands Ranch across 11 housing developments.