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EIR released for 2,135 home project near Escondido

The project is located in the community of Twin Oaks within the unincorporated portion of San Diego County, with Escondido and San Marcos to the south, Vista and Oceanside to the west, the unincorporated communities of Hidden Meadows and Valley Center to the east, and unincorporated Bonsall to the north.

The next big county development gunfight is shaping up just north of Escondido. On June 15 the EIR (environmental impact report,) all 8,000 pages of it, was released for the Newland Sierra Project, known in a former iteration as the Merriam Mountain development—which was rejected several years ago by the Board of Supervisors.

Written comments are due by August 14 at 4 p.m. and should be submitted to Ashley Smith by email at Ashley.smith2@sdcounty.ca.gov or by mail to 5510 Overland Ave., Ste. 310, San Diego CA 92123.

The County will hold ONE public meeting to discuss the project, on July 18, at the San Marcos Community Services Dept. building, Community Hall, located at 3 Civic Center Drive, San Marcos, at 6 p.m.

The project is located in the community of Twin Oaks within the unincorporated portion of San Diego County, with Escondido and San Marcos to the south, Vista and Oceanside to the west, the unincorporated communities of Hidden Meadows and Valley Center to the east, and unincorporated Bonsall to the north.

Newland Sierra project would feature  2,135 homes built across seven distinct neighborhoods
1,209 acres of permanently preserved open space plus an additional 210 acres of off-site open space bringing the total open space set-aside to 72% of the property
19 miles of multi-use trails, bike paths and pathways
36 acres of community and neighborhood parks and community gardens to “promote healthy lifestyles and foster community stewardship.”

A community-serving retail center of 81,000 square feet would include a grocery store and other retail services and a
A K-8 school site.

Because the project would be inconsistent with the county General Plan it would require a General Plan Amendment.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires the preparation for an EIR and the inclusion of public comments after the EIR is released. CEQA also requires that the County staff respond to all comments that raise environmental issues in the final EIR.

Once the 60-day comment period is over, the Planning Commission will hold a hearing on the project.

The project is sure to be controversial. Newland is touting the project as “San Diego County’s first carbon neutral community.” However, opponents, among them the Golden Door Spa, claim that the project would require that ratepayers of the Vallecitos Water District cut their own supplies to accommodate it. They also assert that the project is entirely in an area the County has designated a “Very High Fire Hazard Security Zone” and that, because of the additional traffic the project would create, would create “gridlock during an evacuation.”

The opponents also claim that the project would require condemning some properties to make it possible to build a four Deer Springs Road. Currently that road winds through a rural enclave between San Marcos and I-15.

4 responses to “EIR released for 2,135 home project near Escondido”

  1. Kirk Effinger says:

    Claims of Vallecitos Water District having to cut supplies are bogus. There have been no plans mentioned to do so. The development is one of the most environmentally-conscious developments proposed in the county’s history. As far as the condemnation concerns for road-widening on Deer Springs, the road is already failing due to the amount of traffic using it today. The county designated the road a “major arterial roadway” on its circulation element decades ago, and whether this development ever gets built or not, eventually the road will, in fact be widened.

    The irony that a playground for the uber-rich is the major opponent to a development designed to provide to a housing-starved region…housing for people who decidedly could never afford to avail themselves of the Golden Door’s pampering…should not be lost on anyone.

  2. Laura Gordon says:

    I have not studied this project and am simply responding to Kirk Effinger’s comment above. If Deer Springs Road traffic already requires widening to meet the demands of current traffic, how in the world is the widened road going to accommodate all the additional traffic that will be generated by 2,135 new homes plus 81,000 square feet of retail?

  3. 3rd generation San Diegan says:

    Thank goodness there is more housing being planned! The latest reports, state wide, have shown repeatedly that we’re in a housing crisis. Prices are skyrocketing, rentals are difficult to find and also skyrocketing, traffic OUT of the County is getting worse because, in desperation, people are searching in increasingly large areas, requiring additional commute time, wear & tear on roads, increased emissions, and tax dollars leaving our area – so, a new development is desperately needed. I think the developer will be willing to work with locals and Sandag concerning road issues; hopefully, people can be civil in the discussions and we can end up with a solution to housing and road issues, gain some tax revenue, help local schools, create jobs and a new community!

  4. Ellen Maisen says:

    The frightening thing for those of us who live and work here, is that there is no administrative body watching out for this area. The county board of supervisors do not really have to answer to the residents. Most of the people hearing about these developments do not understand how they impact our daily lives. This is not a responsible way to develop communities. We already have a plan that was created over time with much input and effort. This asks for that plan to be changed. The amount of traffic feeding onto Interstate 15 is already at maximum, and adding this “city” with only some of the services people will need is not going to help that problem. It creates a dangerous situation when there are fires, earthquakes, floods etc., because the residents will NOT be able to evacuate safely. Every square foot of space might not be able to be developed in this way, because we really have to take into account the impact that these developments have on the services and needs that already exist. We are also squeezing out agriculture with this effort, and we need to keep producing food in this area, there is no other area to take over that industry.

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