By Miriam Raftery
May 3, 2019 (Santee) -- A workshop describing the controversial Fanita Ranch proposed master-planned community will be held during a regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Wednesday, May 8th. The workshop is designed to provide information to the public about the project. No actions on the project will be taken at this meeting.
This meeting will be held in Santee City Council chamber, 10601 Magnolia Ave., Building 2, starting at 7 p.m.
Santee is currently processing a development application for a master planned community in the Fanita Ranch area with up to 2,949 housing units with a school, or 3,008 units without a school, up to 80,000 square feet of commercial uses, parks, open space, and agriculture uses. The location of and the proposed site plan can be viewed using the links below. The applicant is proposing a General Plan Amendment and a Specific Plan to designate the Fanita Ranch Project Specific Plan (SP).
A citizens initiative sought to require voter approval of Fanita Ranch or other projects that don’t comply with the existing general plan, but the Council voted to postpone that initiative until 2020 pending a study.
The project and became a key focal point in the 2018 candidate debates, with unsuccessful challengers warning that councilmembers could attempt an end-run around voters by approving the project before voters can have an opportunity to vote on the project.
Development Plan History
Prior to the currently proposed Fanita Ranch Project, the most recent application for development on the project site was filed in 2005. At that time, a Tentative Map and Development Review Permit application was submitted to build four villages containing 1,380 single-family dwelling units, 15 live-work units, commercial and mixed use space, parks, and open space. The City Council certified the Final Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) and approved the project in 2007.
From 2008 through 2012, the approvals were subject to litigation. Ultimately, portions of the 2007 EIR related to biological resources and water supply, as well as a Revised EIR on the single issue of fire safety adopted by the City in 2009, were found inadequate. (See Preserve Wild Santee, et al. v. City of Santee, et al. (2012) 210 Cal.App.4th 260; Preserve Wild Santee, et al. v. City of Santee, et al., San Diego Superior Court Case No. 37-2009-00097042-CU-TT-CTL.) In 2013, the City set aside the certification of the 2007 EIR and 2009 Revised EIR and vacated related project approvals. The 2007 and 2009 EIRs can be viewed using the links below.
In August 2018, the current owner of the property, HomeFed Fanita Rancho, LLC and JWO Land, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of HomeFed Fanita Rancho, LLC, submitted a complete application that modifies the project as described above.
CEQA Process and Public Input
The CEQA process includes several opportunities for members of the public, agencies, and Native American tribes to provide input on the draft Revised EIR and the modified Fanita Ranch Project prior to City Council’s consideration of the proposed Fanita Ranch Project. Once the application was deemed complete, the City issued a Notice of Preparation (“NOP”) for the draft Revised EIR. The NOP can be viewed using the link below.
The NOP provides a detailed description of the proposed project including the development concept, parks, trails and recreational facilities and regional trail connectivity, habitat preserve and open space areas, on-and off-site improvements, grading, public services and utilities and development phasing.
The City is in the process of preparing a draft Revised EIR evaluating the modified project and specifically addressing the portion of the prior environmental analysis for the project approved in 2007 that was found inadequate. The Revised EIR will address the environmental issues identified in the NOP.
Once the draft Revised EIR is complete, the document and supporting technical studies will be available for a 45-day public review period. At the completion of the 45-day public review period, the draft Revised EIR will be finalized. The City Council will consider the Final Revised EIR in determining whether to approve the modified Fanita Ranch Project. A diagram of the EIR public input process is provided using the link below.
With all large project applications, developers or their representatives provide funding to reimburse the City for staff time and expenses incurred under professional service contracts specifically related to the project. Staff time and professional service contracts for the Fanita Ranch Project are funded by the developer rather than the City’s General Fund.
The project location map can be accessed here.
The project land use plan can be accessed here.
The 2007 EIR can be accessed here.
The 2009 Revised EIR can be accessed here.
The Notice of Preparation can be accessed here.
The EIR Public Input Process can be accessed here.
Project plans are available for review at the Santee City Hall, Development Services Department (Building 4) during normal working hours.
If you have any questions or comments regarding the Fanita Ranch project, please contact the project planner:
John O’Donnell, Principal Planner
Development Services Department
City Hall, Building 4
10601 Magnolia Avenue
Santee, CA 92071
(619) 258-4100, Ext. 182