Goodson Project Update: Fire Disaster In The Making

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The last time we looked into the ongoing slow motion train wreck of a 6-story apartment building being built on our doorstep, California Attorney General, Rob Bonta, told the City of Encinitas he was prepared to take immediate action to hold the city accountable if they didn’t approve the project once revised plans were submitted.

Since then, both Encinitas RRD and the Olivenhain Town Council sent letters to Bonta to ensure he knows that neither the City of Encinitas nor the Fire Department has conducted a comprehensive review of the adverse impacts the project will have on public safety in all surrounding communities, especially during wildfire evacuation. The Attorney General has not responded back.

The project owner, Goodson, has submitted revised plans. The Encinitas Advocate reported in an article that Encinitas reached an agreement with Goodson to approve these revised plans in exchange for him dropping his lawsuit. The formal vote will take place during the upcoming June 8th Encinitas City Council meeting. Hopefully people will attend and speak out during this meeting about the need for a proper analysis of adverse impacts on public safety.

At a special City Council meeting on January 19th, 2022, Fitch & Associates proposed a revised Olivenhain evacuation plan. The conclusion at the meeting was that community input would be required before the plan could be considered finalized. It is believed that no revisions have been submitted.

Among other problems, this evacuation plan fails to consider any residents outside of Olivenhain. In a wildfire approaching from the east, many residents from Rancho Santa Fe north of the golf course, The Bridges, Crosby, and parts of Harmony Grove and Elfin Forest will have to evacuate southbound on narrow Rancho Santa Fe Road and Manchester in a long, single-lane queue to the inadequate Manchester onramp onto 5. It is planned that a majority of Olivenhain residents will be directed onto the same congested southbound route with projected evacuation times between 5 and 6 hours before adding a large number of co-evacuees from the communities east of Olivenhain.

85 lives were lost in the Paradise fire due to inadequate evacuation routes.

Both the Weber wildfire safety report sponsored by the Olivenhain community and the Fitch report commissioned by the City of Encinitas found that rapid wildfires may threaten Olivenhain and surrounding communities before the residents have a chance to evacuate safely. In other words, we are already staring at a possible Paradise Fire disaster situation even before the Goodson apartments are built.

The City of Encinitas is dodging its responsibility to protect public safety. Rancho Santa Fe is directly affected by this project and has every right to protect its own residents. Both of our communities should call upon emergency services (we have our own fire protection district) and the County Supervisor to direct county resources to conduct the comprehensive, multi-jurisdictional review and analysis of adverse impacts on public safety that the City of Encinitas has failed to do.

By the State’s own declaration, the one factor that can halt or reduce the size of any density bonus project is adverse impact on public safety.

If the next Santa Ana wind driven fire comes along this unburnt corridor, we are in trouble.