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Save Desert Rose v. City of Encinitas
Group stands fast in fight against high-density development

By Owen Cobb, December 11, 2013

  
 
"Don't let Olivenhain become this,"
reads the Save Desert Rose website.
Residents of Olivenhain, a community within the City of Encinitas, east of El Camino Real, continue their fight against a proposal from Woodbridge Farms Estates, LLC, to raze 7.87 acres of parkland at Desert Rose Way for a high-density apartment complex. The fight will last well into the new year, as a recent court hearing scheduled for last Wednesday, December 4, was vacated.

The group spearheading the litigation, Save Desert Rose, maintains that the proposed development will have significant negative impacts on the environment and quality of life in the area, potentially ruining one of the few rural communities in the region.

The site currently consists of an equestrian facility with stables, riding rings, as well as a natural creek running along the northern and eastern boundaries. If the development moves forward, construction crews will cram 17 homes onto the site, despite current zoning laws that allow one lot for every one-half acre — a density increase of two housing units. Increasing the density, say residents, would bring more traffic and less street parking onto an already narrow street.

In addition to traffic and parking impacts, members of the Save Desert Rose group feel that the City of Encinitas violated the California Environmental Quality Act ("CEQA") when approving the proposal. They say that the developer should have never been allowed to increase the density of the area.

“Among other things, the City failed to adequately consider the environmental impacts associated with the project, failed to prepare and circulate required environmental analysis, and failed to consider feasible alternatives to mitigation,” reads the petition filed in April of this year.

During the approval process, residents and environmental experts complained about the lack of public input and the failure to adequately study the impacts to “biology, water quality, storm water, drainage, soils, geology, aesthetics, parking, public health and safety, traffic, lighting, noise, and land use.”

Desert Rose faces the risk of losing its identity, declares the group's website. A place “where trails are the links between neighbors; trails that are shared by walkers, people on horseback, bicyclists, joggers, gentle athletes, our four-legged friends and children walking to school.”

Everett DeLano, the attorney representing the Save Desert Rose group, specializes in land use and environmental law. He says residents opposed to the project are showing no signs of relenting in their opposition; whereas, during the initial hearings, nobody, "not one" person was there in support of the project.

DeLano plans to file an opening brief on January 6; the December 4 hearing was postponed to March 21.

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