By DALE GOOD
VALLEY ROADRUNNER, December 16, 2010
I had a question and answer session this week with Randy Goodson, CEO of Accretive Investments, Inc., and Jon Rilling, vice president, regarding Accretive’s request to submit an application for consideration of a proposed residential development on the west side of Valley Center (or north Escondido) at the I-15 and Old Highway 395.
Q: There is somewhat of a controversy swirling around about just how PAA-09-007, your request for approval to submit an application for your project, came to be on the Dec. 17 Planning Commission agenda. From your perspective, can you give the details on how your application request got scheduled for the Dec. 17 meeting?
Goodson: This controversy is much to do about nothing. Our very first hearing was scheduled when we submitted a written request to the Planning Commission for a hearing on our request for approval to submit an application as described above. This hearing was scheduled in the exact same manner, after we submitted a letter requesting the next hearing be scheduled.
Q: Did you believe that putting this on the agenda for Dec. 17 was a continuance?
Goodson: Yes, this is a continuance. We understood and expected that to be the case. Had other interested parties checked with the County before spreading conjecture about this issue, there would have been no question about whether it was a continuance or not.
Interviewer’s note: I was provided with a copy of an email dated Dec. 10 that stated the DPLU had consulted with both County Counsel and Planning Commission’s Counsel both of which said that “the 12/17 hearing is not a new (or De Novo) hearing and it will be treated as a continued hearing. All prior testimony is part of the continuing public record. The item has been re-noticed because it wasn’t continued to a date certain. The Planning Commission’s Council will address this question and explain their rationale at the 12/17 hearing.”
Q: Tell me about your conversations with the VCMWD and who have you spoken with at the district?
Goodson: We have had three meetings, Aug. 27, Sept. 16, and most recently Dec. 2, with the people at the VCMWD, one of which included Gary Arant, the general manager of the district. The result of those meetings was memorialized in a letter dated Dec. 6 by Dexter Wilson Engineering, Inc. to the county planning commission. It contained the following goals for the project that we will be tasked to achieve:
- The project would have a “net zero” water demand and would not trigger the need for more imported water from the district.
- All wastewater generated by the project would be treated in accordance with Title 22 for reuse.
- A commitment for continued reuse satisfactory to the VCMWD would be provided.
To achieve the continued reuse we must create a system for beneficial agricultural reuse that will result in the preservation of between 200 and 300 acres of local agriculture in perpetuity.
Q: Will the addition of a water recycling facility or expansion of any existing plant be required?
Goodson: Yes. We will work closely with the district to determine the best location, function and design for the wastewater treatment facilities for the project. This could involve constructing a plant on site or possibly expanding an existing facility. We will consider all options in conjunction with the district.
Q: Given that your property is on the western edge of VC and actually close to the communities of Bonsall and Fallbrook, have you had any conversations with the superintendents of those school districts?
Goodson: We have requested a meeting with Bonsall and have yet to meet due to timing conflicts. We met briefly with the superintendent of Fallbrook. However, until we know about the student generation statistics we can’t get too detailed with any school district, including Valley Center-Pauma. In the normal development process, these types of statistics cannot be generated until after there is a project actually designed. As a result, this will happen at the next stage. Remember, there is no project yet…we are just asking for permission to work with staff and all the related agencies, including the school districts, to design a project and submit that for consideration to the various regulatory agencies.
Rilling: Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District Supt. Lou Obermeyer, has been clear that they have no money for new schools and are not interested in a general obligation bond issue. We certainly understand and accept their valid concerns.
In a letter to the county planning commission, dated Dec. 8, we offered to make land available for the construction of a new school. In addition, we, the Accretive Group, would fund the cost of the construction of that school to serve our students. Further, we share the district’s dislike for general obligation bonds and will not, and have not, pursued such bonds to fund facilities for our project. We have also offered in writing to Supt. Lou Obermeyer, to pay for any transportation expenses associated with transporting any student from our neighborhood to the High School.
Q: How will this project be different that your San Elijo Hills project?
Goodson: First, that neighborhood has a much higher density than we have considered for the VC property and only has one large central park or village node. The VC neighborhood will have half the number of residences connected with three small village nodes or focal points. This will help the neighborhood fit in and complement the existing community by providing a range of housing types and numerous amenities.
Q: What is a node?
Goodson: A node is an activity center or focal point in a project. You would typically locate a node at crossroads where you find community activities, such as churches, parks, athletic fields, and community centers. There will be a central node where there would be a grocery store, dry cleaners, bakery, drug store, etc. and two smaller nodes one to the north and one to the south that may have a coffee shop or other service but would primarily serve as a community center or meeting place available to all members of the overall community.
Q: From your point of view, how would your project benefit the people of the Valley Center community?
Goodson: There are many benefits for VC residents who generally live around the area 12 miles (an average 30 minute drive) to the east along Cole Grade and VC Road.
First, a western village could provide amenities to residents in the western areas of VC including parks, ball fields, nearby shopping, and a school. In addition, we believe the following would be of benefit to the community:
- Improvements to transportation corridors to the west,
- Reduced traffic in downtown VC,
- Additions to a public trail system,
- Offsite open space preservation may be as much as 200 to 400 acres,
- Preservation of 200 to 300 acres of agriculture in the area and beneficial reuse of wastewater,
- Increased enrollment in the VC school district. And, very important, the project could provide a variety of housing opportunities to allow VC to meet the housing needs of all their residents throughout their life cycles.
Q: Do you have any agenda items with the VC Planning Group at this time? What about the sub-committee that Oliver Smith was heading up?
Goodson: We do not have any agenda items with the VC Planning Group at this time. If our request to submit an application is approved, we look forward to working with them in the future.
Q: How do you feel about the process of getting your project off the ground?
Goodson: The PAA process is not a final approval but rather an authorization to submit an application for our project. It is highly unusual, and most anyone involved would agree, for a PAA process to take the two years and running that this has taken us. Most people that I talk to in our business can’t understand or believe all the things we have had to provide as a part of this request for permission to submit an application.
For example, a letter from the water district involved would not normally be required as a part of this process. In fact, representatives of the VCMWD told me they have never been involved in a PAA (or at least for the past 30 years). PAA approval means we can work with the community on planning, design and details for things like neighborhoods, shops, parks, open space, trails, and community benefits.
Q: Are you looking for an approval to submit your application for your project on the 17th?
Q: Is there any other information the public should know?
Answer: Our goal is to work with the community and our neighbors to create a place that addresses the needs of the future. Today we don’t have enough sports fields, parks or open space. Our community will provide that. We know that traffic is going to get worse in the future and downtown faces gridlock. Our community helps alleviate traffic and locates some future growth near a major freeway. We’ve done a lot of work to show that this community is feasible. A PAA approval will allow us to take the next step and work out design and details with our neighbors, local organizations, and the community at large. I would encourage people to contact us if they want to know more.
Interviewer’s note: If you would like to read letters and county submissions provided to The Roadrunner as part of this interview, download the entire package here. (9mb)