By Karen Brainard
A meeting with County Supervisor Dianne Jacob and county staff on Jan. 22 gave the San Diego Country Estates Association board a better picture of the San Vicente Road project and produced some positive results, according to the board president.
“It’s a different picture than what they gave in October. The footprint of the road is not going to change that much. They provided a more in-depth analysis of how the project is going to be,” said SDCEA President Doug Kafka. “We agree that a safer road is a good thing.”
A controversy erupted about the San Vicente Road project after the SDCEA board heard a presentation in October 2012 on the county’s plans to begin construction this fall on widening the road and realigning the most dangerous curves. The board included a petition in Estates homeowners’ assessments that opposed the road project, stating such reasons as inconvenient wait times during construction, removal of oak trees, and concerns over speeding once completed.
Those who have supported the road improvements, first proposed in the 1990s, were quick to respond, citing the need to make the road safer.
Jacob set up a meeting with the board members and SDCE General Manager Mario Trejo and had the project engineers available to go over details of the road improvements.
“I think that we resolved an awful lot of issues,” said Kafka.
He believes that the board’s concerns about the road project were misunderstood.
“I think the petition that came out was confusing,” he said, adding that as board president he wants to hear both sides.
One of the concerns of the SDCEA board was that one lane on San Vicente Road would be closed during some of the construction, and wait times could be 15 to 20 minutes long.
Kafka said he learned that the project could be completed in less than two years and lane closures could be just 30 percent of that timeframe.
SDCEA board members suggested adding a right turn lane on San Vicente Road heading east at the Wildcat Canyon Road intersection, he said.
“They were very receptive to some of our ideas,” said Kafka.
As for the removal of about 150 oak trees, Kafka said he understands that to establish a shoulder on the road, some trees will need to be removed, but county staff said they will try to replace as many as they can.
In an email, Steve Ron, project manager with the county Department of Public Works, said approximately 5.85 acres of oak habitat will be impacted by the 2.25-mile project and the process the county currently is following is in accordance with the project’s California Environmental Quality Act document and jurisdictional permits. That would require a mitigation ratio of 3:1, or three oaks planted for each one removed, and approximately 14.58 acres of oak habitat offsite in areas of higher biological value.
Proponents for the road improvements are scheduled to meet with Jacob on Feb. 14, said a spokesperson for her office.