4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Ocean Breeze Ranch – Bonsall's "exemplary" project

At least the general plan was not dodged

Area where Ocean Breeze homes would go
Area where Ocean Breeze homes would go

At a glance, Ocean Breeze Ranch looks like sprawl. The sort of rural project that inspired an initiative on the March ballot to let voters decide if it belongs there. Measure A would apply to any housing proposal with six units more than currently allowed by zoning.

Ocean Breeze would build 396 new homes in pastoral Bonsall on a 1,403-acre property, which sounds like all those other housing plans that would build hundreds of homes miles from job centers, smack in fire country.

But supporters say this one is different. When it comes to growth in the unincorporated area, where capacity is projected to be more than 232,300 existing and future homes through 2050, not all plans are equal. An appeal by a citizen's group was countered by the Endangered Habitat League, which called the project "exemplary." The site, located west of Interstate 15 in the San Luis Rey River Valley, is within a draft pre-approved mitigation area (having high biological value) for the North County habitat plan. "It puts in place a segment of the North County Multiple Species Conservation Plan," says Dan Silver, executive director of the Endangered Habitat League. "Best planning to emerge from the county in a long time."

In recent years, supervisors approved a batch of rural projects that would require general plan amendments to fit them in where they don't fit. A fight ensued, with environmental groups joining forces, filing lawsuits to challenge the approvals. Building in the backcountry came down to a simple question: should the general plan be followed, rather than amended, when developers eye the unincorporated county? Ocean Breeze didn't require an amendment to the general plan, "unlike Newland, Lilac, Harmony Grove Village South, and Valiano," Silver says.

Another reason the League supports it is that it doesn't increase density. Instead, it relies on density transfer, reshuffling the number of homes per acre to create a more compact footprint. The general plan permits such changes where there is more than one land use designation within a project. Ocean Breeze contains several, from semi-rural to rural. About two percent of the unincorporated county is designated as village, 10 percent as semi-rural, and 37 percent as rural lands. "While the Endangered Habitat League would prefer more urban development, this project had some village designations," Silver says.

Also, projects that contain semi-rural residential and rural land use designations are required to design a project as a conservation subdivision, which squeezes it down by reducing lot sizes. Lots will range from 4,500 to 5,000 square feet in two planning areas, and five-acre minimum lots to approximately 24 acres in another area. "It was a major challenge to accommodate both general plan density and properly configured biological open space," Silver said in a letter to supervisors.

Ocean Breeze Ranch, LLC, has been honing its application since 2016. The proposal keeps intact an existing private horse facility, adds seven private and public parks (15.7 acres), approximately five miles of trails, four miles of sidewalks, roads and landscaping, and preserves more than half the site as permanent biological open space.

In December, the planning commission approved the tentative map, two major-use permits, and a site plan. They also found the project consistent with the environmental impact report certified in 2011 for the general plan update. Not everyone who attended a public hearing agreed. There were concerns about traffic, road improvements, fire evacuation, and more.

After hearing public testimony, the commission added a condition that the applicant will provide a $250,000 contribution to the Bonsall Unified School District for a parking lot. A group called Save Lilac later appealed the project, saying it doesn't comply with the environmental impact report prepared for the county's general plan, should not have used an exemption to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, and is inconsistent with the general plan and the Bonsall Community Plan.

The appeal was withdrawn the day before a hearing on February 12. But another opponent, Jack Shue of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, spoke out — and not because the general plan had been dodged again. The problem was the general plan itself. It allowed the project to avoid further environmental review since it was consistent with the general plan. "I want to point out that we think this is an error. Because the general plan isn't perfect. A lot of things have changed since we've done that plan," Shue said. "We have much more threat of wildfires, climate change is a major threat to the world and our communities here." Silver says the project used California Environmental Quality Act guidelines, and the approach was typical of most general plan consistent projects. It may not be perfect, but "it is way better than what would have happened otherwise. We were not starting from a blank canvas. You have to deal with the existing zoning, even if not ideal."

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Steve Peace's version of the French Laundry scandal

We get to pay Sheppard Mullin $200,000 for lobbying us
Next Article

How the lockdown has changed National City crime

Mask snitches, domestic violence, mental health calls up
Area where Ocean Breeze homes would go
Area where Ocean Breeze homes would go

At a glance, Ocean Breeze Ranch looks like sprawl. The sort of rural project that inspired an initiative on the March ballot to let voters decide if it belongs there. Measure A would apply to any housing proposal with six units more than currently allowed by zoning.

Ocean Breeze would build 396 new homes in pastoral Bonsall on a 1,403-acre property, which sounds like all those other housing plans that would build hundreds of homes miles from job centers, smack in fire country.

But supporters say this one is different. When it comes to growth in the unincorporated area, where capacity is projected to be more than 232,300 existing and future homes through 2050, not all plans are equal. An appeal by a citizen's group was countered by the Endangered Habitat League, which called the project "exemplary." The site, located west of Interstate 15 in the San Luis Rey River Valley, is within a draft pre-approved mitigation area (having high biological value) for the North County habitat plan. "It puts in place a segment of the North County Multiple Species Conservation Plan," says Dan Silver, executive director of the Endangered Habitat League. "Best planning to emerge from the county in a long time."

In recent years, supervisors approved a batch of rural projects that would require general plan amendments to fit them in where they don't fit. A fight ensued, with environmental groups joining forces, filing lawsuits to challenge the approvals. Building in the backcountry came down to a simple question: should the general plan be followed, rather than amended, when developers eye the unincorporated county? Ocean Breeze didn't require an amendment to the general plan, "unlike Newland, Lilac, Harmony Grove Village South, and Valiano," Silver says.

Another reason the League supports it is that it doesn't increase density. Instead, it relies on density transfer, reshuffling the number of homes per acre to create a more compact footprint. The general plan permits such changes where there is more than one land use designation within a project. Ocean Breeze contains several, from semi-rural to rural. About two percent of the unincorporated county is designated as village, 10 percent as semi-rural, and 37 percent as rural lands. "While the Endangered Habitat League would prefer more urban development, this project had some village designations," Silver says.

Also, projects that contain semi-rural residential and rural land use designations are required to design a project as a conservation subdivision, which squeezes it down by reducing lot sizes. Lots will range from 4,500 to 5,000 square feet in two planning areas, and five-acre minimum lots to approximately 24 acres in another area. "It was a major challenge to accommodate both general plan density and properly configured biological open space," Silver said in a letter to supervisors.

Ocean Breeze Ranch, LLC, has been honing its application since 2016. The proposal keeps intact an existing private horse facility, adds seven private and public parks (15.7 acres), approximately five miles of trails, four miles of sidewalks, roads and landscaping, and preserves more than half the site as permanent biological open space.

In December, the planning commission approved the tentative map, two major-use permits, and a site plan. They also found the project consistent with the environmental impact report certified in 2011 for the general plan update. Not everyone who attended a public hearing agreed. There were concerns about traffic, road improvements, fire evacuation, and more.

After hearing public testimony, the commission added a condition that the applicant will provide a $250,000 contribution to the Bonsall Unified School District for a parking lot. A group called Save Lilac later appealed the project, saying it doesn't comply with the environmental impact report prepared for the county's general plan, should not have used an exemption to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, and is inconsistent with the general plan and the Bonsall Community Plan.

The appeal was withdrawn the day before a hearing on February 12. But another opponent, Jack Shue of the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, spoke out — and not because the general plan had been dodged again. The problem was the general plan itself. It allowed the project to avoid further environmental review since it was consistent with the general plan. "I want to point out that we think this is an error. Because the general plan isn't perfect. A lot of things have changed since we've done that plan," Shue said. "We have much more threat of wildfires, climate change is a major threat to the world and our communities here." Silver says the project used California Environmental Quality Act guidelines, and the approach was typical of most general plan consistent projects. It may not be perfect, but "it is way better than what would have happened otherwise. We were not starting from a blank canvas. You have to deal with the existing zoning, even if not ideal."

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

How the lockdown has changed National City crime

Mask snitches, domestic violence, mental health calls up
Next Article

Pony Death Ride: the Unthemed theme

Bringing a little holiday cheer to people who like weirdo-sarcastic musical comedy
Comments
2

Sorry to see this land go; it's for the birds. Speaking of birds, how much of this empty land -- where is no building --- going to be overtaken by trees? Will the trees match the value of the structures within the tracts? (hence subdivision vs a home vs a school) Where will these trees come from?

Feb. 29, 2020
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
March 7, 2020

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close