SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego City Council leaders have approved a controversial housing development to replace the old DoubleTree Golf Course in Rancho Penasquitos.
The council passed the Junipers housing project during Tuesday night's meeting, following public comment featuring several residents who were concerned the project doesn't provide an adequate wildfire evacuation route.
Stephan Haight, president of the nonprofit group PQ-NE Action Group, said the plan doesn't take into consideration two other large projects nearby: Pacific Village, which includes about 600 homes, Millennium PQ, which includes about 330 apartments.
"We feel that the Junipers project is being considered in a bit of a vacuum. That these major developments that are happening right now, Pacific Village, Millennium PQ, are not being taken into account properly in this consideration. We don't even know ... what the neighborhood is going to look like when this is all done," said Haight. "Additionally, we all know that the fire severity, wildfires throughout California are getting worse."
In addition to the other developments and wildfire evacuation, Haight said the third major concern is an increase in traffic.
Before the vote, council leaders added a last-minute requirement that the housing project developer, Lennar, adds a special evacuation route before it allows any residents to move into the homes. That route will be located between Andorra Way and Corte Raposo.
City leaders say the development will help alleviate the city's severe affordable housing shortage.
"I recognize this is a balance, it's always going to be a balance between affordable housing ... but I also understand the need for wildfire safety, and evacuations, and keeping our environment pristine," said District 5 councilmember Councilmember Marni von Wilpert, whose district includes Rancho Penasquitos. "While I understand many residents are concerned about this project, I also understand the need for housing ... Seniors are really struggling to find places to live and thrive in D5 because many of them are on fixed incomes."
The Junipers plan calls for the vacant golf course to be turned into senior housing, consisting of 455 market-rate units and 81 affordable units for low and very low-income seniors, according to the council's agenda. The project also includes a 2.87-acre public park and a 2.75-mile social loop trail.