As the City of San Diego prioritizes new housing construction, residents in northeast Rancho Peñasquitos are voicing strong concern over a planned development that would add 536 new homes and apartments on the old Doubletree Golf Course.
If approved, it would be the third housing project near the intersection of Peñasquitos Drive and Carmel Mountain Road, and could double the number of residential units in the area, according to a local community group.
Members of the PQ-NE Action Group plan to take their concerns to the Planning Commission on Thursday, where developer Lennar Homes will present it’s plans for the latest project on the old golf course. The group plans to voice concerns over community infrastructure, fire evacuation routes, traffic and air quality.
“They just can’t develop any place and not take into account the safety concerns that a development would create,” said Joe Pierzina, a 24-year resident of Rancho Peñasquitos.
The latest project, called The Junipers, would be exclusive to people 55 and older, with 15% of its apartments designated for low-income seniors.
A spokesperson for Lennar would not provide a written statement to NBC 7 but said all community concerns have been addressed in the plan’s environmental impact report.
Chief among those concerns is fear of what could happen in the need of evacuation during a wildfire.
“This whole community is a cul-de-sac and there’s only one way in and one way out,” said Pierzina. “We’re really concerned that as a fire comes up and over the hill, we’re not going to be able to get out, so by the city approving this, there’s a catastrophe waiting to happen.”
Pierzina recalled difficulties trying to evacuate the area during the 2007 wildfires.
“From here to the freeway, it’s only about a mile drive for me. It took me and my family over an hour to get out of here, and at that point, none of this new development was in,” said Pierzina.
“We would basically like to make sure that the other side is being heard, that their interests are being represented, and that whatever is done here is really being done with the greater interest of our local community and the city of San Diego as a whole," said Stephen Haight, president of the PQ-NE Action Group.
While community leaders are resigned to the fact that development will occur, they’re hopeful their efforts will lead to construction of fewer homes, and consideration of other options,
“Putting in another way in and out of the neighborhood would certainly be an option that would assist in that evacuation concern that we have,” said Pierzina.
According to information on the developer’s website:
“Projects like The Junipers, which have been designed to meet all City code requirements, would NOT require an FPP or an Evacuation Plan. However, both reports have been included in The Junipers’ Environmental Impact Report to support the CEQA analysis and address community concern."
“The contents of the FPP and the Evacuation Plan were presented at the Rancho Peñasquitos Planning Board Land Use Committee on June 5 and September 4, 2019.”