Proposed housing development in East County sparks controversy

SANTEE, Calif. -- Residents are fighting a nearly 3,000 home development proposed in Santee.

Fanita Ranch would be built on about 2,600 acres of what is now rolling hills.

Opponents said adding more homes would add more traffic and impact their quality of life.

“I think that at a certain point in time you can only put so many people in a square foot,” Vicki Call said.

Call has been volunteering her time to get people to sign a petition.

“We have a petition that we are trying to get on the November ballot. Our right to vote for future development in Santee that changes the general plan,” Call said.

In other words, big projects like the Fanita Ranch development would have to be approved by voters.

“One of the biggest things is they try and scare people. I’d say before you sign anything check your facts,” Santee Mayor John Minto said.

Minto argued traffic in the city would not get worse. According to the developing company, HomeFed Corporation, it would actually get better because traffic issues would have to be fixed before completing the project.

“The owners of Fanita Ranch, HomeFed Corporation, understand the traffic concerns the Santee residents have. HomeFed knows that in order to gain City Council approval to complete the master planned community we need to have a traffic solution, and we do!” Jeff O'Conner, Director of Operations for HomeFed, said in a statement to FOX 5.

“We are working with Caltrans to add a lane in state Route 52 westbound from Mast Boulevard to Interstate 15 and add a lane in the eastbound direction over the San Diego river bridge. This will increase the efficiency of SR-52 FOUR times more than what Fanita Ranch will add to the freeway, thus making commute times less than they are today. You can get additional information about our community on our website.”

In addition, Santee's mayor said the state is in a housing crisis and growth will come eventually.

“Let’s build something that helps us to have a good solid foundation of revenue to take care of what we have here and what people want,” Minto said.

Petitioners said they need more than 3,200 signatures to put the measure on the ballot.