On September 14, 2022, at a regularly held public meeting of the City Council, the City of Santee adopted Resolution No. 112-2022, certifying the Final Revised Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) (SCH #2005061118) for the Fanita Ranch project, adopting Findings of Fact and a Statement of Overriding Considerations under the California Environmental Quality Act, adopting a Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program, and approving the Project. The Project has been revised from a prior application most recently approved by the City on September 23, 2020. The earlier approvals and the EIR for those approvals were subject to litigation and ultimately rescinded by the City on May 25, 2022 pursuant to a March 3, 2022 order of the San Diego County Superior Court, which found the EIR inadequate on the issue of wildfire and evacuation analysis. Recirculated Sections of the Final Revised EIR were prepared for the Project to revise the wildfire and evacuation analysis based on the Court’s order. The Recirculated Sections also include revisions to the Project Description and Land Use and Planning sections of the Final Revised EIR because the Fanita Ranch project has been certified as an Essential Housing Project pursuant to the City’s Essential Housing Program and no longer requires or seeks a General Plan Amendment, Specific Plan, Rezone, or Development Agreement.
The Project site consists of approximately 2,638 acres of land in the northern portion of the City. The Project proposes a community consisting of approximately 2,949 residential units under a preferred land use plan with school, or 3,008 units under a land use plan without school, up to 80,000 square feet of commercial uses, parks, open space, and agricultural uses. Development on the Project site would be clustered into three villages in order to designate approximately 63 percent of the site as Habitat Preserve. The natural open space outside the development areas would be dedicated to the City's Multiple Species Conservation Program for long-term protection and management as a Habitat Preserve.
The three villages are arranged around a central Farm to support fanning and wellness as the theme for the Project. The villages would be defined by their location, unique physical characteristics, and mix of housing types and uses. Fanita Commons would serve as the main village and would include a mix of retail, residential, civic and office uses and provide a strong physical connection to the central Farm. The Vineyard and Orchard Villages would include smaller mixed-use village centers that allow for neighborhood serving uses, office space and other community services and amenities as well as mix of residential neighborhoods. Separated from the rest of the development, a Special Use area would be located in the southwestern corner of the site, which would include a limited range of uses due to geological constraints. The Project would provide a coordinated system of parks and non-motorized use trails that would connect to the three villages, regional trails, and open space. The trail system would connect to existing off-site trails in surrounding park and recreation areas.
The Project would also improve and construct new segments of three Santee General Plan Mobility Element streets: Fanita Parkway, Cuyamaca Street and Magnolia Avenue, and provide alternative mode circulation systems for bicycles, pedestrians, and low-speed vehicles. In addition, the Project would provide a comprehensive fire protection system of fire safety features and design measures that have proven to perform well in wildland-urban interface and very high fire hazard severity zones. The primary features include ignition-resistant materials, fuel modification zones, multiple ingress/egress points, water availability, and fire response.
The Santee General Plan identifies Fanita Ranch as Planned Development (PD). At the September 14, 2022 City Council meeting, the City of Santee also adopted Resolution No. 113-2022 approving Vesting Tentative Map (TM2022-1), Resolution No. 114-2022 approving Development Plan and Development Review Permit (DR2022-4), Resolution No. 115-2022 approving Conditional Use Permit P2022-1, Resolution No. 116-2022 approving Conditional Use Permit P2022-2, and Resolution No. 117-2022 approving Conditional Use Permit P2022-3.