Pardee Homes removes street access from new development plan

A new Pacific Highlands Ranch housing development will move ahead without a connection to Rancho Santa Fe Farms Road.

A new Pacific Highlands Ranch housing development will move ahead without a connection to Rancho Santa Fe Farms Road.
(Karen Billing)

A new Pacific Highlands Ranch housing development will move forward without a connection to Rancho Santa Fe Farms Road after Pardee Homes faced opposition from neighbors over the proposed new street.

Pardee is in the process of developing “Unit 22 B” (also known as Sendero Collection), a neighborhood of 81 homes located off Carmel Valley Road, Golden Cypress Place and Rancho Santa Fe Farms Road, the site that would have been Solana Beach School District’s eighth school. The vehicular connection to Rancho Santa Fe Farms has been eliminated and will be for emergency vehicles and pedestrian access only.

The Carmel Valley Community Planning Board had reviewed the project three times since April and approved the project twice with the road—at the April and May meetings, the main opposition to the project was to the architecture which was enhanced prior to the board’s approval.

The board held a special meeting on June 9 to reconsider the project’s road and again approved the project, hearing from residents both in support and opposition of the road. With the board’s approval, a representative from the neighboring Rancho Santa Fe Lakes said the community and other surrounding neighborhoods would be considering retaining a land use attorney to represent their interests as the project moved through the city’s planning process.

At the board’s following June 25 meeting, Tiffany Finstad, director of project management for Pardee Homes, said due to the split community feedback they decided to move forward without the road “to avoid unnecessary delays on the project that brings forward much-needed homes.”

The majority of the board was disappointed with Pardee’s decision and still supported the connecting street.

“I understand the business decision that Pardee had to make but I’m not going to support this because the street makes sense for the circulation pattern of those residents in that community,” Chair Frisco White said. “Rancho Santa Fe Farms is a public street and they deserve as much access to that street as any other community along Rancho Santa Fe Farms Road.”

The board voted 7-1-2 against the project without the road—board member Vic Wintress was opposed and Allen Kashani and Finstad recused themselves due to their past and present affiliations with Pardee Homes.

During the Zoom call on June 25, some Pacific Highlands Ranch residents expressed frustration about the elimination of the street and worries that there will be more traffic on residential streets, increasing the risks to pedestrians which has been a major issue in the last few years.

“My main concern is safety in PHR and I know that this road access would improve the safety of our entire community,” said Juniper Sykes, representing the Sierra Highlands neighborhood.

Bruce Cameron, Pacific Highlands Ranch North Master Association board member, said the vehicular connection was not Pardee Homes’ idea but a request from numerous residents residing in multiple homeowner associations in PHR. Cameron stated that a traffic study found that direct access to Rancho Santa Fe Farms Road would result in no impact to traffic. He said without it, Sendero Collection has no way of entering west or departing east from their community without adding miles on surface streets.

“To threaten litigation over an improvement that will benefit the community is deplorable,” said board member Danielle McCallion. “I’m incredibly frustrated that the residents of the Lakes took it upon themselves to decide that they were more important than the greater community.”

Marc Nasoff, HOA president for Rancho Santa Fe Lakes, said that the opposition represents more than just the Lakes but also included residents from the Pacific Highlands Ranch neighborhoods of Casabella, Meadowood and Artesana who believed they would be negatively impacted by the new road.

At the board’s June 9 meeting, several residents spoke out against the connection, sharing safety concerns about Rancho Santa Fe Farms with its hills and hidden driveways and the potential for the new street to increase traffic and cause accidents. Nasoff said that Rancho Santa Fe Farms Road is an exit for numerous residential communities and thousands of county residents also use it to head south to reach Carmel Valley Road. He said the road gets congested, especially in the mornings, citing the board’s previous action to place “No Right Turn” signs on Cypress Meadows Drive to prevent drivers from cutting through the Watermark community.

“To say that there’s no safety concern of putting another entrance there is totally inaccurate,” Nasoff said. “That entrance and exit would result in eight left-hand turns in a span of 800 feet on a high-speed road.”

Nasoff and other speakers on June 25 said they supported Pardee’s new design configuration and that they would continue to support the project throughout the city’s planning process.

McCallion said that the claims that the exit will increase traffic and pose a safety threat to RSF Farms Road are “completely fabricated and not based on fact.” She pointed to the traffic study presented on June 9 which stated that the spacing of the proposed driveway met city standards and that the road could accommodate turns in the center two-way turn lane.

As McCallion said, families in this development will be assigned to Solana Santa Fe School in Rancho Santa Fe and the new configuration will force them to make a “less safe” left turn on Cypress Meadows—she said she wouldn’t be surprised if residents request a traffic signal in the future.

Prior to the pandemic, the school district had been considering piloting a bus route from the PHR neighborhood to Solana Santa Fe for the 2020-21 school year but at this time, no decisions have been made,

“Pardee is faced with an impossible choice. No matter how good, helpful and safe a road would be, as a public company Pardee cannot be faced with months of construction delays and deferment of millions of dollars,” said Cameron. “The intimidation and legal threats are not appropriate, the project will add almost no adverse impacts to the community with huge value overall for the entire community.

I’m incredibly disappointed that Pardee Homes has been put into this situation and has been forced to abandon this improvement.”