for neighbors in Olivenhain lawsuit
rules EIR is needed for Desert Rose housing project
April 18, 2014
A controversial housing development planned for a horse
property in Olivenhain hit a hurdle this week when a San Diego
Superior Court judge tentatively ruled it cant move
forward without further environmental review.
ruling was a setback for Woodridge Farms Estates LLC, which
plans to build 16 homes on what is now a horse boarding facility
on Desert Rose Way, east of Rancho Santa Fes intersection
with 13th Street on the very edge of the Encinitas city limits.
have long fought the project and filed a lawsuit against the
city and the developer last year, saying the plans should
have been subject to a full environmental review before being
approved by the Encinitas City Council in March 2013.
a hearing Friday, attorneys for both sides presented their
arguments to Superior Court Judge Judith F. Hayes, who is
expected to issue a permanent ruling over the next couple
Everett DeLano, representing a neighborhood group called
Save Desert Rose, said Friday his clients were elated over
the courts tentative decision.
completely consistent with what weve said, which is
that this project should have gone through an environmental
review before the City Council took it up for consideration,
DeLano said. Its a complete affirmation of what
weve been saying all along.
Gonzalez, an attorney for the developer, called the ruling
a disappointment, but said the judge appeared receptive in
the hearing to points that she may have overlooked before.
our goal was to make sure she fully understands whats
going on here, Gonzalez said. We still believe
its a really good project and that the benefits to the
environment far outweigh the NIMBY-istic concerns of the residents.
benefits include a significant wetland enhancement and
the donation of public trails for pedestrians and horses,
homeowners have been fighting the project for years, saying
16 homes is far too many for the 6-acre lot. They argue that
the project doesnt fit with their neighborhoods
rural character, that its a fire hazard and that it
could harm the environment.
early 2013, the Planning Commission agreed with neighbors
and voted to reject the Desert Rose proposal. That decision
was later reversed by the Encinitas City Council, which OKd
the plans in March of that year.
signing off on the project, the council said its hands were
essentially tied because of a state affordable housing law
that gives developers special privileges including
permission to put extra homes on their lots if they
agree to set aside part of those homes for low-income residents.
One of the houses in the Desert Rose development would go
a low-income family.
her tentative ruling, Judge Hayes noted that the Planning
Commissions findings were relevant and sufficient
to establish a fair argument that the project may have an
adverse environmental impact requiring an EIR.
said Friday the project will eventually move forward, even
if more environmental review is required.
developers are extremely committed to the project at the densities
that are currently approved, he said.