By Joe Naiman
Village News reporter 

Administrative permit issued for two Sandia Creek Drive gates

Those opposed have until March 12 to appeal

 

Last updated 3/5/2021 at 4:54pm



The request for an Administrative Permit for a gate on Sandia Creek Drive resulted in the approval of a second gate.

The Administrative Permit was approved March 2 by Kathleen Flannery, who has been the acting director of the county's Department of Planning and Development Services since previous PDS director Mark Wardlaw took a position with the City of Walnut Creek. The permit will expire on March 2, 2023, although if construction has begun by that date the permit will remain valid.

Those opposed to the decision have until March 12 to appeal. An appeal would be heard by the county's Planning Commission.

The private portion of Sandia Creek Drive is approximately 2.2 miles. The road maintenance agreement for the private section of the road was approved in 1989, and 56 property owners pay for the maintenance of the road. Residents of Sandia Creek Drive and Sandia Creek Terrace have requested the gate to limit access to the private road portion of Sandia Creek Drive to residents and invited guests.


The property owners voted on a two-gate project which received support from more than 80 percent of the landowners; one gate would have been at the southern end of the private road while the other gate would have been at the county line. The county's Department of Public Works (DPW) deemed the two-gate proposal not feasible due to issues involving road width and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliance. The single-gate location was moved to just north of Rock Mountain Drive. That plan includes three turnarounds in addition to the gate. One would be just north of the gate, one would be just south of the gate, and one would be near the beginning of the private portion of Sandia Creek Drive.

The gate system would have two swing gates. Solar panels would allow for battery backup in case electrical power is lost. The gate would be no more than 12 feet high.

The second gate would be just north of the end of the public road just north of the first northbound turnaround. The appropriate assessor's parcel would need to be added to the road maintenance agreement for that gate to be included. The plot plans and building plans will show both gates.

The gates and turnarounds would be complemented by signage notifying motorists that the private section is closed to through traffic. The signage would meet Federal standards for night visibility, which would reduce the risk of a motorist who is lost in DeLuz driving all the way to the gate before needing to turn around. The signage would also inform southbound motorists entering from the Riverside County portion of the road, which is a public road.


Opposition to the gate project is from two sources: Sandia Creek Drive residents concerned about the gate and turnaround locations being by if not actually on their property and residents of Rock Mountain and DeLuz Heights for whom Sandia Creek Drive is the legitimate route to Temecula - and an evacuation route if needed - rather than a shortcut.

Because the gate project does not have the unanimous consent of the property owners an Administrative Permit is required for its installation. An Administrative Permit is a discretionary permit and requires CEQA findings. The Administrative Permit utilized a Negative Declaration. PDS and DPW analyzed both the state-mandated vehicle miles traveled impact and level of service impacts. A traffic study was conducted in 2020 which indicated an average daily traffic volume of approximately 2,200 vehicles including 1,700 through traffic motorists. PDS and DPW estimate that the gate would divert approximately 1,600 average daily trips to East Mission Road and another 300 trips to State Route 76. The vehicle miles traveled study indicated that the gate would reduce the distance by approximately 11 percent per motorist.

DeLuz Road is a public road, so if through traffic takes that street instead of Interstate 15 it will not impact the maintenance resources of property owners.

Members of the Sandia Creek Road Committee and other proponents of the gates have indicated that access codes would be provided to the United States Postal Service, Fallbrook Propane Gas Company, and others who deliver to the homes on the private portion of the road. Neighbors elsewhere in DeLuz may request an access code; such access would likely be granted to actual neighbors although no written guarantees currently exist.


If the primary source of power is lost the gates are supposed to open automatically and remain open until full power is restored. The North County Fire Protection District would have a key to unlock the gates manually, and the gates would also respond to emergency vehicle strobe signals. The gates may also be opened by a remote radio signal; the nearest NCFPD fire station is 4.2 miles away by air and the radio signal has a range of five miles. Remote operation by the regional dispatch center in Rancho Santa Fe would also be an option. The radio control system would be tested before the gates become operational.

Flannery made findings that the gate structure would be compatible with community character, would not have a harmful effect on the neighborhood, and would not be detrimental to the health, safety, or general welfare of the surrounding properties or improvements.

The Fallbrook Community Planning Group voted 12-2 January 18 (one planning group member recused himself due to a potential conflict of interest) to recommend approval of an Administrative Permit for a gate on Sandia Creek Drive.

 

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