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By Joe Naiman
Village News Reporter 

Planning Commission allows only nearby neighbors to appeal Sandia Creek Drive gates

 

Last updated 5/20/2021 at 11:19am

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Village News/Shane Gibson photo

Residents on the private portion of Sandia Creek Drive have requested gates to limit access to residents and invited guests; the planning commission has ruled that only property owners within 300 feet of the proposed gates can appeal the Administrative Permit for the gates.

The county's Planning Commission rejected an option which would have allowed De Luz Heights and Rock Mountain residents rather than only property owners within 300 feet of the proposed gates on Sandia Creek Drive to have official appellant status in the appeal of an Administrative Permit for the gates.

The May 14 action of the Planning Commission didn't consider the appeal itself but only determined who would officially be allowed to appeal. Four Planning Commission votes were needed to approve the motion to allow the De Luz Heights and Rock Mountain residents to be considered appellants.

David Pallinger was unable to participate in the May 14 meeting. Ron Ashman, Ginger Hitzke, and Thomas Hough voted in favor of allowing the additional appellants. Doug Barnhart, Yolanda Calvo, and Michael Edwards voted against allowing the appeals from those not within 300 feet of a gate.

The actual appeal is scheduled for the June 11 Planning Commission meeting. Anyone not allowed to be an official appellant will still be allowed to speak during the public comment period, although he or she will be subject to a time limit.

The private portion of Sandia Creek Drive is approximately 2.2 miles. Residents of Sandia Creek Drive and Sandia Creek Terrace have requested gates to limit access to the private road portion of Sandia Creek Drive to residents and invited guests.

"Sandia Creek Drive has a history of severe accidents," said Nick Koutoufidis, who is the project manager for the county's Department of Planning and Development Services.

One gate would be just north of Rock Mountain Drive. The other gate would be north of the end of the public road. The gates would be complemented by three turnarounds: one near the beginning of the private portion, one just south of the gate by Rock Mountain Drive, and one just north of the gate by Rock Mountain 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 gates and turnarounds would be complemented by signage notifying motorists that the private section is closed to through traffic. 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 De Luz Heights for whom Sandia Creek Drive is a 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.

The Fallbrook Community Planning Group voted 12-2 Jan. 18 (one planning group member recused himself due to a potential conflict of interest) to recommend approval of the Administrative Permit. Acting PDS director Kathleen Flannery approved the Administrative Permit March 2, and those opposed to the decision had until March 12 to file an appeal which would be heard by the Planning Commission.

Two separate appeals were filed. One had 10 names: six of those live within 300 feet of one of the gates while four live in the Rock Mountain area.

Permanent Road Division Zone No. 20 provides road repair for 19.4 miles of road in De Luz along with maintenance of nine street lights. PRD Zone No. 20 has an advisory committee comprised of local residents, but the PRD is a dependent special district which means that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is the governing body.

PRD Zone No. 20 has 347 parcels, and within two days of Flannery's decision, multiple residents provided funding for the $1,000 appeal filing fee. Because the PRD zone does not have the authority to file an appeal, that appeal was in the name of advisory committee chair Shaunna Jengo.

The Planning Commission's decision on the gate cannot be appealed to the Board of Supervisors. However, an Administrative Permit is a discretionary permit and requires California Environmental Quality Act findings. The Administrative Permit utilized a Negative Declaration, and the CEQA findings may be appealed to the Board of Supervisors.

 

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