County supervisors approve modified Otay Ranch development

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County supervisors Wednesday voted 4-1 in favor of a revised housing development in the Otay Ranch community. (San Diego County Board of Supervisors)

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – County supervisors Wednesday voted 4-1 in favor of a revised housing development in the Otay Ranch community.

Adara at Otay Ranch is located east of state Route 125 and west of SR- 94, between eastern Chula Vista and Jamul.

According to a county staff report, the project has been reduced from 809 acres to 579, increases open space from 649 acres to 961, and increases the number of residential units for a total of 1,266.

Adara will also feature walking trails, parks, sheriff’s and fire department stations and a neighborhood convenience center.

The board also voted to mandate homebuyers be informed that their homes will be in a high-fire-risk area.

According to the county Land Use & Environment division, project changes include designating three parcels of land near the Adara project as “hardline preserve,” meaning no development is permitted. That change will also need final approval by state wildlife agencies.

“What we have before us today, as a result of negotiations, will provide more acres of open space and an affordability component,” said Board Chairman Greg Cox.

In late June 2019, supervisors approved the original Adara plan by a 3- 2 vote after a lengthy public hearing.

The project, which originally featured 1,000 homes, was later modified after a dispute resolution with wildlife agencies over certain parcels of land, according to a county staff report.

After collaborating with county, state and federal agencies, San Diego- based developer Jackson Pendo in November submitted an amendment to modify the project.

Jackson Pendo representatives told supervisors Wednesday that Adara will be a “net zero” energy community that is consistent with the Otay Ranch master plan.

Environmentally friendly features include solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, more fire-defensible space and other carbon offsets, the developer said.

Liz Jackson, of the Jackson Pendo Development Company, said in a written statement that the collaboration with governmental agencies “is absolutely necessary if we are going to meet the challenges before us and it comes at a time when families are forging a new relationship with their homes.”

As he did last year, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher voted against the project. “While the land swap has addressed some concerns, I still could not support the project due to concerns over fire danger, lack of affordable housing and the environmental impact,” Fletcher later said in a written statement.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who was previously opposed, voted yes on the revised project, describing it as “significantly better.”

Jacob said the developer’s new plan eliminated her concerns about increased traffic, and is consistent with density requirements in the county’s General Plan.

“If we don’t approve this today, it goes back to the (original) project,” Jacob added.

Dozens of supporters — including a law enforcement union and several chambers of commerce — told the board that residents need more eco-friendly and affordable housing options closer to their work or other job opportunities, and that Adara fits the bill.

Jo Marie Diamond, president of East County Economic Development Council, said that when the county rebounds from COVID-19 pandemic, more housing will be needed.

“It’s commendable,” she added, “how Adara developers worked with various agencies.”

Several opponents, including environmental group representatives, complained that the project is located in a high-fire-risk area without enough evacuation routes.

They also argued that supervisors may not have all the necessary information to make a decision at this time.

Peter Andersen, a Jamul resident and Sierra Club member, said the Adara location has experienced numerous wildfires over the recent past.

“I suspect many of the public don’t know what a fire trap this is,” Andersen added.

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