Zoning Administrator finds CEQA compliance for Canonita/Tecalote lot split

The county’s Zoning Administrator found that a proposed lot split at the intersection of Canonita Drive and Tecalote Drive will not require additional California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review.

The Oct. 30 decision of Zoning Administrator Joe Farace does not approve or deny the proposed subdivision of a 5.4-acre parcel into three residential lots of 1.0, 2.0, and 2.1 net acres. The decision on the lot split itself will be made by the director of the county’s Department of Planning and Development Services, but Farace’s decision finds that mitigation measures identified in the Environmental Impact Report of the county’s general plan update will be undertaken. CEQA requires that a finding be made at a public hearing if impacts are identified which could be mitigated by undertaking previously-identified mitigation measures.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved the county’s updated general plan, along with its Environmental Impact Report, on August 3, 2011. CEQA allows for an exemption from additional environmental review for projects consistent with density established by an existing plan for which an EIR was certified except if project-specific significant effects are peculiar to the project or site. Under that CEQA section the examination of environmental effects is limited to impacts which are peculiar to the project or parcel and not analyzed as significant effects in a prior EIR, potential off-site impacts not addressed in the prior EIR, or previously-identified impacts which due to information not known when the EIR was certified would be more severe than cited in the EIR. If none of those three conditions apply, a project-specific EIR is not required solely on the basis of that impact.

The property owned by Jodi Schnoebelen has residential variable zoning, a “B” community design review designator, and a density of 2.9 dwelling units per acre. A private road easement connected to a new street called 15th Fairway Drive would provide access to the three new homes, and earthwork would consist of 27,500 cubic yards of cut and 400 cubic yards of fill.

“This has been such an ordeal,” Schnoebelen said. “If it could go wrong, it did.”

Schnoebelen submitted her application for the subdivision in 1999. The delays included the Rainbow Municipal Water District’s sewer moratorium, fire code changes, and changes in county planning staff.

The site currently has 4.3 acres of Diegan coastal sage scrub and 1.1 acres of non-native grassland. The sensitive wildlife species identified on the site were turkey vulture, gnatcatcher, coastal western whiptail, and orange-throated whiptail. No sensitive plant species were identified on the site. The mitigation measures include preservation of 3.2 acres of on-site habitat, purchase of 2.03 acres of off-site coastal sage scrub habitat within the Northern Foothills Ecoregion, avoidance of clearing and grading activities between the Jan. 15 and Aug. 31 breeding seasons, and biological monitoring during all land disturbing activities.

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