Many Facts Missed or Misstated by the Developers in Rancho Librado Community Meeting


The developer proposing the 400% density increase on the old C. Arnholt Smith property at Via de la Valle and Calzada Del Bosque held a meeting at the Garden Club on Aug. 6, ostensibly to discuss the pros and cons of the development. Unfortunately, only one side was told – Theirs. Nearly 50 opponents attended and submitted written questions. Few were used. To set the record straight, we are pleased to present the facts and the major reasons why more than 900 residents and neighbors have signed a petition against the density increase, and why Fairbanks Ranch and Whispering Palms community leaders oppose it. The developers also misrepresented comments at an informational session of the Rancho Santa Fe Association, claiming they received “the green light” when none was given.

Claim 1: Developer wants to bring the “County entitlements in line with The Covenant entitlements”

The County General Plan governs the land use of all surrounding communities; the Covenant may add further restrictions, but cannot supersede the General Plan by permitting a project that is inconsistent with the County. To be very clear, County designates this site SR-2, allowing a maximum of one unit per 2+ acres.

[related_content]The developer’s proposed ~400% density increase to allow 54 new casitas added to the existing residence represent a disastrous, precedent-setting change to the County’s General Plan.  Such amendments are rare because of their potential consequences leading to further high-density developments.  Current Covenant Use Classifications specifically state “The development must also meet County of San Diego Development Standards.”  So clearly, County zoning trumps the old Covenant Use Classifications.

Editorial note – to learn more, please visit

Claim 2: “Established need” (for Step Down / Age Restricted housing)

This claim is based on a flawed survey conducted by another developer in 2003. The survey was very general in nature, designed to get the desired answers, and received only a limited response from residents. It fell far short of respected survey standards and did not include specifics regarding desired home sizes, pricing, location, and access to community facilities and services.

Claim 3: “There will be no further densification, and Chino Farms won’t sell or develop”

The developer stated this is the only parcel allowing this density increase, and it will not cause others to try to increase density, and added Chino Farm’s lawyer told us their client “does not intend to sell or develop their property.”

Only 3 years ago, then-owner Larry Mabee openly shared his plans for a world- class equestrian farm at this site. He passed away, and his heirs have a different idea. Things change.

In fact, many other large parcels in the San Dieguito River Valley could be in line for dense developments if the precedent setting Rancho Librado project is approved.

Claim 4: This project will improve the entry to the Ranch

Sadly, the current owners stopped maintaining the property some time ago and the site has definitely become an eyesore. It doesn’t require a high-density development to remove the tumbleweeds and dying trees and make the site beautiful.

Simply maintaining the property and matching the quality of landscaping on neighboring Covenant home sites on Via De La Valle and Calzada Del Bosque, such as Tres Palomas & the Nicholas’ home will vastly improve the street view.

Most importantly, 900+ neighbors oppose the project and think a gated community of 54 duplexes, Condos and single family units will change the rare and desirable rural character of our community for the worse. The Rancho Librado proposal is 100% inconsistent with surrounding neighbors and a bad concept for a major gateway to the Covenant.

Claim 5: “There will be no significant/material increase in traffic”

Common sense dictates this high-density development will increase traffic at already congested intersections, including one rated “F” by the county.  It is no surprise that the applicant’s traffic study concludes no significant increase in traffic. However their own numbers indicate 432 car trips per day with 54 homes, versus only 168 if just 14 estate homes were built, more than double the impact.

Claim 6: “We have positive input from the surrounding communities,” and “got the green light from RSFA in May, 2014″

This is another misleading claim. The facts are that both the Whispering Palms Community Council and Fairbanks Ranch HOA Board voted to oppose this development, and have sent letters confirming their opposition.

The RSF Association Board sent a letter to the County in May, 2015 to confirm their support for the County’s current minimum 2 acre density of the property.  In addition 900+ local residents have signed a petition opposing the Rancho Librado development.

We invite all concerned residents of Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Ranch, and Whispering Palms, to help us preserve the existing and increasingly rare rural character of the San Dieguito River Valley. 

Editorial note – to learn more, please visit


Dave Allred
Rick Nicholas
Saiid Zarrabian