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Northeast Peñasquitos Residents Sue City, Developers Over Junipers Project
By Alexander Nguyen, August 10, 2021

A group of residents in Rancho Peñasquitos last week sued the city and developers over The Junipers housing project.

The development is a 536-unit senior community slated for the defunct Carmel Highland Golf Course, formerly the Doubletree Golf Course. It is one of three developments at the corner of Peñasquitos Drive and Carmel Mountain Road.

Elham Saamsani lives across the street from the construction of Millennium PQ — a 331-unit apartment homes project. It's right below where The Junipers will be built. She said her main concern with the project is the evacuation route.

“(There are) more than a thousand houses on this street and there are no other ways for them to leave except for Peñasquitos Drive,” she said.

That's a concern for a lot of residents in Northeast Peñasquitos. Peñasquitos Drive is a four-lane street near Carmel Mountain Road, but travel a few hundred yards away from the intersection and it turns into a two-lane road.

Concern over an adequate evacuation route is part of the reason why Peñasquitos Northeast Action Group (PQ-NE) is suing the city to stop The Junipers project.

"We are very landlocked. We have one way in and one way out. That hill there, that’s the Black Mountain Open Preserve," PQ-NE board member Mike Slaven said. "I’ve been evacuated twice in the 19 years that I’ve lived here. It’s a danger waiting to happen. We’re one of the few communities that does not have an approved fire plan because we only have one way in, one way out.”

The group also alleges the city and developers violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), community plan, San Diego City general plan and municipal code.

“In essence, what the case is saying is, the city approved a project that’s gonna dump a lot of bad impacts," said Everett DeLano, PQ-NE's attorney. "Impacts in terms of fire safety, impact in terms of traffic impacts and other kinds of impacts onto the community without adequately addressing those.”

PQ-NE has been trying to work with the developers and the city on this issue but got nowhere, he said. So they felt the lawsuit was the only way their voices could be heard.

The San Diego City Attorney's Office said it will review the complaint and respond in court. Lennar Homes, The Junipers developer, did not respond to a request for comments.

Slaven said he and his group are not against development but that they want safe development.

Saamsani, who is not part of PQ-NE, said she would feel better about The Junipers development if a second access point to nearby Interstate 15 were built. Right now the only entrance to I-15 is on Carmel Mountain Road.

"That would be very reasonable and very safe for everybody to come and go," she said. "And the traffic will less during everyday traffic and also during emergencies."



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