STOP SAFARI HIGHLANDS RANCH 
Development and Annexation

Issue

A massive housing development, Safari Highlands Ranch, is proposed for pristine land in North County.  Project is a classic case of a sprawl development on land that should be protected for wildlife and water quality benefits.  It is opposed by neighboring residents and many groups have raised serious concerns about it.  San Pasquale River Valley Preservation Society  https://www.spvpa.org/shr.html is the local group working on this project.   Please visit their website as well. 

Summary

A massive housing development, Safari Highlands Ranch, is proposed for pristine land in North County.  Project is a classic case of a sprawl development on land that should be protected for wildlife and water quality benefits.  It is opposed by neighboring residents and many groups have raised serious concerns about it. The new proposal entails annexing 1,100 acres (directly north of the Safari Park, east of San Pasqual Valley, south of Valley Center/Lake Wolford, and west of the San Guejito land grant). 

The developers, Concordia Communities, are seeking approval for 550 houses even though the current County zoning allows for 27 single-family homes on this land.  This is yet another potential annexation by the City of Escondido and, like other sprawl development, will not pay its own way, will destroy precious natural lands, and will require future subsidies by Escondido taxpayers.  There are several protected species of wildlife and habitat in the area.  Past construction on the north side of the Safari Park unearthed Native American relics.  In addition, the affected land and the access route Concordia wants to use is protected wetlands/scrublands.  The County of San Diego and Endangered Habitats League wrote strong letters raising many concerns about this project.

This also another example of a project that will threaten the rural character and quality of life.  The density and the access have raised concerns about the long-term viability of the rural lifestyle in east Escondido as access becomes available.  The proposed road access will result in 6,600 “average daily trips” (number calculated by the developer) past the small K-8th grade San Pasqual Union Elementary school and add tremendous noise and air pollution from those cars past houses that currently have no thru traffic near them.  Many residents have children that walk to the school, so in addition to the negatives of traffic congestion and pollution from another 6,600 average daily trips, parents fear for the safety of their children using Rockwood Road to/from school.

In 2003, the original plan was rejected by the City. During the public hearing for the current proposal, many residents of the San Pasqual Valley and Valley Center/Lake Wolford areas testified that this was high-risk fire area and, having experienced three intense wildfires and evacuations, they didn't see the logic or a rationale of allowing another 550 homes in this area.  The proposed plan calls for only one point of ingress and egress.  Developers have proposed, but have not yet secured land rights for two additional emergency exit routes in the case of emergencies.

On April 23, 2014, the pre-annexation vote passed on a 4-1 with Councilwoman Olga Diaz the lone no vote.  At the hearing she stated, “I have no problem saying ‘no’ to bad ideas”. 

ENU Position and Recommendations

ENU agrees, this project is a bad idea.  ENU opposes the annexation and development of Safari Highlands Ranch by the City of Escondido.  

San Pasquale River Valley Preservation Society  https://www.spvpa.org/shr.html is the local group working on this project.   Please visit their website as well. 

Relevant Agencies

  • City of Escondido
  • County of San Diego
  • LAFCO

Terms to Know

Annexation- the ‘reorganization’ of land under new jurisdiction.

    Please see our Acronyms page.

Current Status

The Draft Environmental Impact Report will be released in the first quarter or 2017.  It will be very important for people who care about our community and environment to comment on this document. 

How YOU can take action

Contact the Escondido City Council and LAFCO and let them know you OPPOSE SAFARI HIGHLANDS RANCH.

LAFCO

Michael Ott, Executive Officer, Michael.Ott@sdcounty.ca.gov

Robert Barry, Robert.Barry@sdcounty.ca.gov

Key Documents

Project Proposal  http://goo.gl/iTj4l9

Letter from County of San Diego: http://escondido2014.com/2014/04/22/planning-division-county-of-san-diego-weighs-in-on-safari-highlands-ranch/

Letter from Endangered Habitats League: http://escondido2014.com/2014/04/23/letter-from-the-endangered-habitats-league/