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Rancho Vista development back to five lots in phase 7

San Juan Bautista City Council hears updates, approves issues relating the Rancho Vista housing development

The Rancho Vista housing development received a thorough airing in a report to the San Juan Bautista City Council Tuesday night by interim City Manager J. Edward Tewes and the developer.

Council members also unanimously approved a number of actions related to the 85-home development.

A significant announcement on the development came from Jess Salmon, director of forward planning for builder Meritage Homes. Phase 7 of the development will include five instead of six lots. But houses on the lots will all be two stories.

Residents in the neighboring Creekside development have expressed concerns about the number of homes in phase 7 as well as concerns about drainage, traffic, views and ways to separate the two developments.

Rancho Vista, situated on 28 acres on First Street along San Juan Highway, has been a thorn in the side of City Hall. Former San Juan Bautista City Manager Roger Grimsley resigned after grading in phase 7 was allowed without permits.

Since Aug. 29, Meritage has been working with city staff to address concerns of residents. Besides going back to the original five lots proposed, the company, according to Salmon, will make the following adjustments:

Open space directly behind the phase 7 lots will remain the same size as was previously approved. Picnic tables and public access to the space have been removed to maintain privacy for Creekside residents.

Landscaping for the open space has been updated to include a row of 24-inch box cedar trees to provide a privacy screen for Creekside residents.

The elevation difference between Creekside lots and the new Rancho Vista lots will be 10 feet plus. Salmon said this is consistant with the heights that existed in the initial grading plans based on approved tentative map lot configurations.

The drainage for open space will maintain the natural flow to the existing channel. The addition of the five lots will be taken into account with updated grading and drainage.

Residents expressed concerns about all of the five homes in phase 7 being two- story structures.

Salmon said the two-story homes were necessary to fit the lots. Two-story homes, he explained, have a smaller footprint, allowing more living space on the second story. He said the homes will be built closer to the street to allow more space between them and Creekside homes will be separated by the box cedar trees.

Salmon said there was no stipulation from the city that it had to put single-story homes in phase 7.

Regarding drainage concerns, Salmon said the Meritage development has worked to mitigate drainage issues. But some residents at the meeting appeared unconvinced it would be enough to avoid flooding issues.

The council approved an amendment to a development agreement with Meritage. The company will contribute $100,000 to address the city’s water supply issues. That is to the company’s benefit, Tewes said, because it can’t connect to city water until water issues have been solved and approved by the state water board.

In a related move, the council authorized the purchase of an iron/manganese water treatment plant for the city’s water at a cost of $51,750.

San Juan Bautista’s water is undrinkable because of high concentrations of nitrates. The city has OK’d a plan to solve the issue, including adding new wells.

The appointment of David Taussig and Associates as assessment engineer for Rancho Vista’s landscape and lighting district was approved. The council also OK’d and agreement with Mertiage Homes to deposit $15,000 to pay for Taussig’s services. That money will be reimbursed by homeowners in the district.

Councilmembers approved a resolution to join the Joint Powers Authority Establishing the Statewide Community Infrastructure Program, or SCIP. It allows developers through bonds to pay upfront for development fees. The city gets those fees sooner through SCIP.

Lastly, the city OK’d a reimbursement agreement with Meritage to install an 18-inch sewer main through Rancho Vista. The line is not needed now but may be if the city’s wastewater treatment plant is relocated. In exchange Meritage will not have up pay for up to $400,000 in sewage connection fees.

In other City Council action:

Presentation given of the fiscal year 2017 audit by Ryan Jolley, CPA. Jolley said the city’s finances are in good shape.

Authorized the strategic plan committee for a parks master plan task force to proceed with its efforts.

Received a fourth quarter report from the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office on its law enforcement activity in the city. There were 42 incident reports during the quarter, ranging from traffic violations and drugs to vehicle theft and domestic quarrels.

 

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Comments

Submitted by (I. Hernandez) on

The article does not make the case that the residents were making to the council and there are some inaccuracies in the reporting, such as
Meritage Homes is rolling over San Juan Bautista and it's residents. What they are doing is what is advantageous to them. Why should the residents and the City pay for the development? They came here with full disclosure about the property. It appeared that night that the council took Meritage's statement at face value. There were plans for single story homes in Phase 7 and there were only 4 lots/homes per original plan and presentation. In Addition, the council has, per their own statement, control of lot sizes - differing from other towns like Gilroy. Therefore, it intimates that they can state that the lots go back to the size of 9,000 - 13,000 sqf which would easily fit single level homes.
Meritage walked away rubbing their hands and big grins that they've just pulled off a heist over San Juan. Seriously played to the detriment of residents. Wake up Council! The city should be making money, not paying it out.

Witnessing this project has been both astounding and appalling. The houses are being built right by the water treatment plant (sewer) and, living in the neighborhood and walking this area regularly, those folks are going to probably sue the city eventually (and succeed) in having it moved.

We currently have poisonous water and all residents have to bear the cost of trucking in drinkable water and yet we are covering 400K in fees for the developer? We were promised without hesitation that our drinking water would be fixed by October by John Freeman. We have signs forbidding large trucks through town. We have poisoned water and the fleet of gigantic big rigs rolling down first street has become continuous.

The haphazard road blockages and haphazard management of road closure on First street is just an indicator of how little regard this construction project has for the town and its people. who will repair the destruction from this traffic on our fragile road? It would be naive to believe that the contractor will do it.

Were I a city councilperson in SJB, I would be looking for an exit. My assumption is that folks do those jobs hoping they can help the city. What they have done has caused harm. Not everyone is cut out to lead. There is a fatalism to living in San Juan. When I talk to my neighbors they shrug as if to say 'the fix is in'. I'm simply not willing to accept that.

Witnessing this project has been both astounding and appalling. The houses are being built right by the water treatment plant (sewer) and, living in the neighborhood and walking this area regularly, those folks are going to probably sue the city eventually (and succeed) in having it moved.

We currently have poisonous water and all residents have to bear the cost of trucking in drinkable water and yet we are covering 400K in fees for the developer? We were promised without hesitation that our drinking water would be fixed by October by John Freeman. We have signs forbidding large trucks through town. We have poisoned water and the fleet of gigantic big rigs rolling down first street has become continuous.

The haphazard road blockages and haphazard management of road closure on First street is just an indicator of how little regard this construction project has for the town and its people. who will repair the destruction from this traffic on our fragile road? It would be naive to believe that the contractor will do it.

Were I a city councilperson in SJB, I would be looking for an exit. My assumption is that folks do those jobs hoping they can help the city. What they have done has caused harm. Not everyone is cut out to lead. There is a fatalism to living in San Juan. When I talk to my neighbors they shrug as if to say 'the fix is in'. I'm simply not willing to accept that.

Mr. Phelps,

You are caught in the "California Squeeze", SJB is not big enough to get any help from the wasteful state and too small to afford anything in its own given the hyper-inflated cost of any public project.

The cost overrun of the easy part of the 119 mile valley section of the bullet train is now $4.6 billion on top of the original $6 billion budgeted for that section.  That overrun alone would be enough to give 460 cities the size of SJB $10 million each to clean up their water supply, but you don't have the votes to trade.

State Sen. Anthony Cannella, the Republican from Ceres who represents you, asked for $500 million in district projects before supporting SB 1, the gas tax hike, but he got nothing for you and neither will anyone else.

Every now and again the state legislature throws San Benito County a crumb while buying off the big counties with special deals, yet our local elected leadership keeps saying, "Thanks, please hit me again." If your local government is supporting these back-breaking state taxes and waste you can only expect more of the same.

You may be thinking that this is a local issue, but the truth is that the poor counties and small municipalities are being driven into a corner and it's no accident; the state wants them to surrender to regional government; they hate dealing with small fry.- no money in it for campaigns.

I am not, like so many, anti-development - it is often the only capital resource for small cites -  but we have to be looking for the appropriate amount of public benefit in return.

In The Netherlands they learned that you cannot fight the sea, but you can channel it.

Marty Richman

Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

Marty is once again showing wisdom and good metaphor; you cannot fight the sea and that sea is the state of CA growing to 40 million in the next decade or two and the USA to 400 million. It is San Juan's DUTY to share the burden and good citizenship to promote housing growth in alignment with our great state's needs and objectives. 

The local petty squabbling just makes things more expensive for the city. Learn to channel the sea, not fight it. It will be good for your pension plan. 

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