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Taking a drive on the wild side: visiting the site of the Newland Sierra development

This view takes in more future housing and, in the rising foothills, a dedicated park. All of the homes of the Newland Sierra development will have spectacular views of the mountains they are set amidst. The development will have 36 acres of community and neighborhood parks.

Last week I took a tour of the 1,209 acres where Newland Communities proposes to build 2,135 homes in seven neighborhoods that will mainly be hidden from each other, and from the view of motorists along the I-15 corridor.

My hosts were Rita Brandin, senior vice president and development director at Newland, Eric Armstrong, principal, Fuscoe Engineering and Darren Pudgil of Pudgil & Company.

We began our road trip on a frontage road that runs past the AM/PM that operates just off Deer Springs Road & I-15. This part of the development that is closest to I-15 is also where the 81,000 square feet of community and retail services, including a grocery store, and a pharmacy, will be built. This will probably be a welcome arrival since many of the I-15 Corridor communities are miles from such amenities.

I have driven on rough roads before. My cabin on Palomar Mountain is at the bottom of one of the roughest dirt roads that ever a Jeep traversed. These roads were in the running for that kind of rough, and there were times that I wondered if our trip might end with a broken axle. But, if Newland’s plans comes to fruition later this year, as they hope, the roads could become very smooth indeed within a couple of years.

Newland Sierra incorporates the Spanish word for mountain, and the project is planned to take advantage of the mountainous terrain that motorists along I-15 see every day when they drive along the freeway. However, from the freeway no homes will be visible.

The project, which bills itself as the first “carbon neutral” development (it is apparently in competition with Lilac Hills Ranch for that title. Whichever project that gets built first, wins.) will be spread out in seven distinct neighborhoods, that will be laid out so that, for the most part they won’t see each other. And from the standpoint of not making much of an impact on existing developments, their neighbors won’t be able to see them much either.

The flavor of the month among developers is the notion of zero impact on the environment (a ludicrous idea on its face, but an altar at which those who build homes are forced to worship lest the state of California sit on their collective neck.) The Newland people do it very well, with homes that will all have enough solar panels that they will supposedly contribute more to the grid than they subtract from.

The development will have bike-sharing, including a fleet of electric bikes that will be maintained for common usage. All the street lights, community buildings and facilities will be solar powered—along with electrical charging stations for those who have electrical vehicles. If you don’t have an electrical vehicle I suppose you will still be allowed to buy one of the homes, but your neighbors will think worse of you.

At any rate the developer takes its “environmental stewardship” quite seriously and brags that it will be setting the “new green standard for sustainable communities in San Diego County.”

As long as they are addressing the County’s housing shortage I’m willing to forgive a little virtue signaling.

At the end of the two hour trip around the land that will someday be transformed into one of the largest developments in the area I promised myself that someday I will take another road trip to see what Newland Sierra has wrought. It should be very impressive. And I already know that the scenery will be spectacular.

7 responses to “Taking a drive on the wild side: visiting the site of the Newland Sierra development”

  1. C says:

    Just some obvious concerns among the multitude of others. Commuting Traffic to and from San Marcos is bad. Traffic in and out of Temecula is really bad. How is this not going to impact both? I moved to VC for the space not for the convenience of close market “welcome arrival” Please! Where can I click “NOT Like”

  2. James D Hickenbottom says:

    Yeah hey lets just keep packing the sardine can as TIGHT as it will go. Traffic is already such that it can take 45 minutes to get across Escondido these days depending on time of day. I’ve lived here all my life and watched a great little town turn into a nightmare to live in. But hey who really cares anyway right?! I’m in Remodel Construction to help provide for the homes that were mass produced already. I have not had anything to do with the continuel “necessary growth” developers need to keep their checks coming in. Nuff said!

  3. Xavier says:

    How much were you paid to write this marketing drivel, David Ross? This project was already proposed as Merriam Mountains and was rejected by county supervisors (with only “Bulldozer” Bill Horn and his golf buddy Greg Cox voting in favor). The message was clear: we don’t need more traffic, pollution and water wasted to boost some giant developer’s bottom line. Same goes for Safari Highlands! Enough!

  4. Margaret McCown Liles says:

    So, when I am stuck in a traffic jam getting out of Hidden Meadow, even worse than the one in 2007, because there will be unmitigated traffic coming from the west side of I-15 due to the addition of the abominable destruction of habitat that this project will produce–will you be out there directing traffic? San Diego County has more endangered species than any other county in the USA and this destruction will cause species extinction–remember that 90% plus of all species are smaller than a bee. So what? You ask. Well, what if one of those tiny species contain the gene to cure cancer–they will be forever lost to the world. You say–well it’s necessary to build more houses because of the housing shortage. My family has been in California since the 19th century, and three-fourths of the Gen Xers are out of state–one out of the country. We do not so much have a housing crisis as an over-population crisis. The Chamber of Commerce with their grow, grow, grow mentality has produced a never-ending cycle of growth: we need more jobs for our youth–since there’s never any guarantee that new jobs will go to existing residents, people move in to fill those jobs, so you need more jobs for more people, and on and on. It never ceases to amaze me that otherwise intelligent people consider infinite growth in a finite area sane. It is not sane. Enough of this nonsense! We need a sustainable stable-growth economy, not a grow, grow. grow until we kill the planet habitat that sustains us. The current General Plan includes provision for many thousand new homes–as required by the state–without the abortion of a general plan amendment–it is the greed of developers who wish to build on cheap land that produces these general plan amendment obscenities.

  5. Steve says:

    I have read the EIR for this project personally and attended all the meetings where this was talked about. Newland has lied to everyone using the media outlets to push them over their opposition. The truth is that they will be buying carbon credits out of the country with no way to verify they actually are being used, and so in no way is it even a positive thing for California or even our country. They have lied about the mitigations their EIR states: that there will be unmitigatable and unavoidable impacts to local schools all over capacity, it will give the I15 in this area an F rating by SANDAG, SANDAG stated that newland has been deceitful about road improvements to the I-15 non of which are in planning or represented in their EIR, the improvements to Deer Springs will disrupt large scale archaeological sites which will turn their 10 year time frame into a long drawn out process since they will be pulling bones and relics at every step, they will be destroying over 50 acres of endangered species habitat using a mitigation parcel past ramona that does not even contain the animals, they did not include a single fire evacuation plan or incorporate how it will affect the evacuation of other local communities they only have 2 roads in and out which will create a bottle neck for this community located centrally in a extreme fire danger area, they did improper studies for seasonal wetlands site located on their property containing possibly federally protected creatures, they will be blasting into highly dense silica granodiorite for at least 3-5 years which is proven to be extremely harmful for wildlife and the local community sending fine particulate that can travel for miles in the air and then settles to be kicked up by whomever disturbs it, they are locating their most affordable housing well over 500k in the cancer risk section of the I15 located near a known leaking underground gas holding chamber that has poisoned local groundwater, and the list goes on. The are extremely deceitful about their advertising of this community. They say it is affordable housing yet most homes will be above the 600k range up to and over the million mark, we all know once they get built the prices will only increase as their operating cost do. They claim to be fixing the I15 SANDAG said they lied about it. They say it is the most environmentally friendly but the EIR shows it has significant unavoidable impacts on sensitive protected animals, and the wildlife corridors they use to avoid spilling over the freeway. Bill horn took 25k in campaign contributions from them and the San MArcos mayor has done a good job of keeping this development hush hush in his city. They will have the population density of Del Mar in less than 800 acres. They will add over 10,000 more cars to the local streets furthering the gridlock we experience locally. They will be sending a majority of their kids to local schools which will exacerbate this traffic problem because parents will be commuting through town to drop off the students. The county supervisors under Bill horn changed the meeting times for discussion of this to the morning when most cant attend to mitigate the impact of local opposition. Bill horn also has land in Valley Center which he stands to make a large equity gain by streamlining this project. He was abstained from voting on Lilac Hills because of this fact. Don’t believe the false advertising of this development Rita Brandon the President of Newland has redacted video where she names opposition by name using derogatory terms and false slandering statements in her lobbying to the City Commerce Board in San Diego. They claim to be a San Diego company however are not a California company. They are a national company which is actually partially owned by the largest developers in Japan owning large shares of the company. These people only care about money they are liars and the media is willfully publishing their lies without educating themselves first on the facts don’t buy into it,this project is a terrible idea for San Diegans.

  6. Patricia says:

    I hope you can all help support Save El Monte Valley..almost 500 acres in one of the largest aquifers in San Diego county, it will destroy water and businesses for the sand this and other developments want for their green windows..will wipe out 100 percent of vegetation, drive out 1000s of horses and cause people to become sick..and the water contaminated. We need to recall these supervisors.

  7. Patricia Berndt says:

    I hope you can all help support Save El Monte Valley..almost 500 acres in one of the largest aquifers in San Diego county, it will destroy water and businesses for the sand this and other developments want for their green windows..will wipe out 100 percent of vegetation, drive out 1000s of horses and cause people to become sick..and the water contaminated. We need to recall these supervisors.

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