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By Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent 

Supervisors set June 5 hearing for river park acquisition


Last updated 5/10/2019 at 8:09pm

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors set a June 5 hearing date to consider the acquisition of approximately eight acres of land for the future San Luis Rey River Park.

The supervisors' 5-0 vote May 1 set the hearing date to acquire portions of two parcels owned by Ocean Breeze Ranch, LLC, and a trail easement over an area of one of those parcels and part of a third parcel owned by Ocean Breeze Ranch.

"This is an important land acquisition for the county and the region," said Supervisor Jim Desmond. "It's going to provide the county with trails and parks."

The San Luis Rey River Park will encompass approximately 1,600 acres, and the linear park will stretch for approximately nine miles between the Bonsall Bridge and Interstate 15. Because land will be acquired only from willing sellers the exact boundaries have not been determined.

The county has already acquired 668 acres, and approximately 700 acres will be transferred to county ownership as part of the California Department of Transportation mitigation requirements for the widening of State Route 76. The county and Caltrans worked together to coordinate the plans for the river park with the plans for the widening of Highway 76.

The San Luis Rey River Park will include open space areas such as walking, bicycling, and equestrian trails along with staging areas. The open space portion will also include habitat preservation and will protect the San Luis Rey River which is almost entirely riparian. The park will also include active recreation facilities such as ball fields, play areas, and picnic facilities.

In 2015, Ocean Breeze Ranch, LLC. acquired the 1,400-acre Vessels Ranch from the Vessels family and renamed the property Ocean Breeze Ranch. The eventual plans include residential development as well as an equestrian center. The property the county is expected to acquire is at the northern edge of the residential and equestrian facility area.

The two parcel portions to be acquired total 8.05 acres. The area is approximately 1 1/2 miles long and is at least 20 feet wide throughout that length. That land will be used for open space, which makes the purchase and other costs eligible for Multiple Species Conservation Program funding.

A trail easement which will link that area to river park land on the east and west totals 0.05 acres. The appraised value of the land and trail easement is $403,500 and the county will purchase the land and easement for that amount should that be confirmed at the June 5 hearing.

Money from the county's 2018-19 MSCP budget will be used for the estimated $484,500 total cost of the transaction. In addition to the $403,500 purchase price the county's estimated costs are $63,000 for staff time and appraisal reports related to the transaction, $2,000 for closing and title costs, and $16,000 in one-time land stewardship expenses including erosion control measures.

The expected annual cost for the open space land monitoring and management is $5,000, and another $260 annually would be paid for fixed charged assessments for the land.

The trail easement would be five feet wide and is just east of the property.

"It's an exciting time for the community," Desmond said.

The eventual costs also include creating the non-motorized trail. The total estimated cost of trails and a staging area throughout the park including land acquisition, design, and environmental analysis is $29.7 million. The estimate to construct the active recreation areas is $33.5 million.

"I will be strongly advocating for construction of the park in the upcoming budget," Desmond said.


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