Questions about Eagle Ranch remain unanswered
March 29, 2012
The meeting regarding the Eagle Ranch development project will take place Tuesday 6 p.m. at City Hall, council chambers. It is a special joint meeting of the Atascadero City Council and the Atascadero Planning Commission to take public comment regarding the plans being proposed by Eagle Ranch, LLC/RRM Design Group.
Eagle Ranch is trying to move forward in securing a formal EIR as the next step in securing a specific plan and annexation into the city of Atascadero.
Presently Eagle Ranch consists of 3,450 acres containing 452 undeveloped lots established in 1914, outside the city limits but within Atascadero’s sphere of influence. The most recent plans proposed for the development include 800 residential sites, a retail commercial area with restaurants and shops, two hotels, an elementary school plus small parks and large open areas. The proposal also describes trails and roads for horseback riding, hiking and recreational uses.
The meeting will take public comment on the following issues:
1. Project scale and density
2. Fiscal Impacts of annexation.
3. County tax share policy.
4. Neighborhood street connections
5. On-site maintenance
6. Off-site improvements/freeway interchange funding
7. Impact on City Fire Department and wildfire risk
8. San Rafael Road neighborhood lot size consistency
9. Affordable/inclusionary housing requirements
10. Keeping of farm animals and trails
11. Neighborhood pocket parks and community park at the Village Center
This is a major development project that will affect all residents of Atascadero through the impacts of financial funding for increased police protection, fire protection, water and sewage availability, and neighborhood intrusion and numerous environmental issues.
Traffic on Atascadero Avenue:
The project proposes two primary access points. They are both located on Atascadero Avenue, only about a mile from each other. One is on Santa Barbara Road (which turns into Atascadero Avenue, when heading West) near U.S. Highway 101 . The second is on Atascadero Avenue between San Diego and San Rafael.
Currently, there are two sections of San Rafael Road. The West Section is between San Rafael and Highway 41. The East Section runs a few blocks from Atascadero Avenue to the 101 freeway frontage road. This would create a “short cut” between Hwy 41 and 101 South. In addition to the substantial increased traffic on Atascadero Avenue, vehicles will also be diverted away from the business district. Does it make sense that the two primary access points be on the same street, and so close to each other?
Wouldn’t it make far more sense for the project to have its own roads running through the project and exiting onto 101 and Hwy 41, rather than substantially disrupting the existing neighborhoods?
Eagle Ranch runs along Atascadero Avenue, and is prone to flooding that entire length. Seasonal creeks run along the road, and throughout the project. The North Fork of Paloma Creek runs through this area, and the road runs downhill from San Rafael to San Diego Road, and beyond. The area on San Diego Road and Atascadero Avenue is in the 100 year flood zone. Any grading or disturbance above, could cause drainage problems, with potential subsequent erosion, mud slides, and increased flooding.
Atascadero Avenue is a winding two lane road. There is continual water erosion along and on Atascadero Avenue, so road repairs tend to be short-lived. It is stated that this road will be “minimally widened.” There does not appear to be room to widen it in many areas, as it is between the seasonal creek on one side, and shale wall on the other.
It is projected that 10,000 trips will be generated (Traffic on El Camino Real is about 35,000 trips). With the difficulty maintaining it presently, and shortage of city funds, it is hard to believe that this road will be able to handle this increased traffic. It is already very dangerous. The large population of deer is an additional hazard.
Other concerns include funding and costs:
There is mention of two roundabouts at Highway 101, one at Santa Rosa and one at Santa Barbara. Who will pay for them? Are the developer and city working with Cal Trans? Is it even feasible to do so?
It states in the report that one third of the property taxes will go to the City. Will this pay for the project, since it also states that the city is responsible for 100 percent of the services?
It also states that fires will be more likely, as the project progresses, and that it would be the City’s responsibility to pay the $300,000 to 500,000 for the use of air tankers, in case of fire.
Will the project support the three additional full time fire fighters and .99 per 1000 people for additional police protection?
What about road construction and maintenance, park and trail construction and maintenance, water lines, etc.? This is of particular concern, as the city cannot currently adequately maintain existing roads, and has not been able to do so for many years.
How will the additional water burden affect existing residences? What about future water rationing?
There is potential for erosion and mudslides, as the project is very hilly and sloping, with many seasonal creeks. Reviewing the slope map, much of the area for proposed lots has slopes of 20 to 30 percent, or greater.
What will happen if improvements are done, but the project is not completed? Devaluation of property values due to increased traffic and density for existing property owners.
This opinion is a compilation and collaboration of several concerned homeowners who live in South Atascadero, and whose properties would be adversely affected by the project.