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By Mike Allen

November 4, 2015 (Santee)--Bowing to a clear change in traffic patterns along Mission Gorge Road, the Santee City Council unanimously approved changing the zoning and granting development of a 113-unit condominium project at the 3.78 acre site previously occupied by Pinnacle Peak restaurant (which moved to Lakeside), and still the location of the Omelet Factory last month.

The Council heard from about a dozen residents of nearby homes who raised concerns of overwhelming traffic delays and parking problems that could result from the new project, but Council members declined to set any new conditions or changes to the developer’s plan.

“I like this project a lot,” said Mayor Randy Voepel. “When we deliberated on Treviso (a condo project across the street) we heard similar concerns about high density and none of those concerns happened....I think this will blend in and be a high quality project.”

The project consists of 87 one-bedroom units and 26 two bedroom units, but 45 of the one-bedroom units are designated as having an office or den, and come with two bathrooms, a clear signal that these could be used for families of more than two people.

Several residents noted those units will likely be purchased by investors and rented out, bringing far more cars than the project’s 211 parking spaces can accommodate. That will mean more of those cars seeking spaces on nearby streets, particularly Rancho Fanita Drive, which is already being used for overflow parking from the adjacent Pepper Tree residential complex, existing residents said.

Councilman Rob McNelis said he shared worries over the condos being turned into rentals and not having sufficient parking, but he also said the city needs a better mix of housing than it currently has. The one bedroom units will be a good way to attract first time home buyers, and young families, he said.

Hal Ryan, representing the Hattie Davisson Trust, the developer, told the council that this type of condo is geared to attracting young professionals who would use the office for their work, and have jobs that allow them to telecommute.

Voepel said many of the millennials that the project would be targeting do not own cars, and are ‘Uber-ing’, thus eliminating the need for so many parking spaces.

Residents generally told the council the nearby streets are already congested at the high commute times, backing up the entrances to State Route 52 for long periods, and that the added cars from the project would exacerbate the problem. Some suggested a second entrance and exit onto Carribean Way, which the Council rejected.

Mark Freed, a consultant hired by Davisson, said the change from commercial to residential uses was justified given the dramatic reduction in traffic along Mission Gorge Road following the extension of SR 52 that connects with SR 125.

Once that was done, traffic counts dropped way off, and visits to both restaurants and other nearby businesses also fell. The first casualty of the altered traffic patterns was Kmart which closed its store. The site was redeveloped as Treviso, which has 186 condominiums.

Freed did not say when the project would begin construction. He also did not say what the anticipated asking prices would be for the units. According to a September CoreLogic report, the median priced house sold in Santee then was $424,000, up 10 percent from September 2014.