By Joe Naiman
San Diego County Planning Commission modified the off-site road improvement requirements of the Montecito Ranch development, but a pathway on Montecito Way will remain 8 feet wide as originally proposed.
Commissioners approved the modifications Aug. 16 by a 5-1 vote with Michael Beck opposed and John Riess abstaining.
The Montecito Ranch developer had sought to reduce the pathway width to 5 feet on Montecito Way, as well as on other roads, and to reduce the required width of other off-site road improvements.
“We’re lessening the impacts to the neighbors,” said county Department of Planning and Development Services (PDS) Assistant Director Darren Gretler.
“It would avoid impacts to existing off-site properties and still handle predicted traffic volumes,” said PDS Project Manager Larry Hofreiter.
County supervisors approved the 935.2-acre Montecito Ranch project in August 2010. The project includes 417 single-family homes, an 8.3-acre public park, an 11.9-acre historic park, approximately seven miles of trails and 571.2 acres of biological open space. The project will construct Montecito Ranch Road to connect Ash Street with Montecito Way and will construct several neighborhood streets.
Ramona Community Planning Group supported most of the proposed changes but wanted an 8-foot pathway on the west side of Montecito Way in addition to the 28 feet of paved width and the 40 feet of right-of-way. The original conditions included 40 feet of paved width, 60 feet of right-of-way, and an 8-foot pathway. Montecito Ranch agreed to the 8-foot pathway. A pathway is a trail adjacent to a road.
“We’ve worked out this compromise with the developer and the community,” said Jim Piva, Ramona planning group chair.
Any trail in the trails master plan must be widened to at least 8 feet with 10 feet preferred. The minimum width for a pathway not on the master plan is 5 feet.
“The ideal would be 8-foot pathways all around,” Piva said.
The reduction of other pathways to 5 feet drew some community opposition at the commission hearing.
“There’s a lot of traffic on those non-motorized pathways,” said Shady Oaks Drive resident Maria Longton.
“I’m somewhat concerned about the remaining 5-foot pathway width,” said Via Cuesta resident Alison Farrin. “Five feet’s getting awful narrow.”
All on-site pathways will be widened to 8 feet. The reduction of the off-site pathways to 5 feet will avoid eminent domain issues that would remove driveway entrances, mail boxes, and noise-shielding vegetation from private property.
“We realized the impact an 8-foot pathway would have,” said developer Bruce Tabb, adding, “It’s really not a financial issue.At 8 feet it presents serious impacts.”
The condemnation of 3 feet of driveway would force steeper driveways, some of which might not be in compliance with fire code standards.
Other off-site road modifications include reducing the right-of-way for Montecito Ranch Road from 80 feet and 118 feet to 68 feet, which would narrow the road and eliminate the landscaped medium. The graded width on Ash Street would be reduced from 60 feet to 52 feet and the paved width of Montecito Road and Montecito Way would be reduced from 40 feet to 32 or 28 feet.
Traffic signals and intersection improvements would replace dedicated left turn lanes and striping at Ash Street and State Route 78.
A southbound through/left turn lane from Montecito Road onto State Route 67 would replace a dedicated right turn lane.