PRESS: Press Enterprise – July 2014

This article was originally published on the San Diego Union Tribune website on July 23rd, 2014 (link to the article).

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TEMECULA: Bay Area firm studying huge Old Town project

Outline of acreage San Diego-based Ambient Communities is seeking to develop. Ambient is proposing high-density development on flat parts of the acreage, the eastern edges of the outlined parcels, to preserve hillsides.

Outline of acreage San Diego-based Ambient Communities is seeking to develop. Ambient is proposing high-density development on flat parts of the acreage, the eastern edges of the outlined parcels, to preserve hillsides.

The Temecula City Council on Tuesday night approved a $261,558 deal with San Francisco-based Environmental Science Associates to study a development plan for 270 acres west of Old Town, a master planned community that could include 1,900 residential units, a high-tech elementary school and land for a university or hospital.

The development — which has been rebranded from “Village West” to “Altair” — is being proposed by San Diego-based Ambient Communities, which purchased the land from the Firestone family last year.

Ambient has been working on the plans for months, a process that has included numerous meetings with city officials and a Ambient-initiated tour of San Diego sites by members of the Planning Commission last week.

The tour was designed to show the commission members what Ambient envisions for the Temecula property: a cluster of villages on the flat parts of the land that will preserve hillsides.

The study — an environmental impact report — will detail how the huge development will affect cultural resources in the area, it’s north of land considered sacred by the Pechanga; the amount of water the project will require, a sensitive topic these days; the stability of the soil and other geological concerns; the potential effects on air quality, the city’s budget,� traffic and more.

These sort of studies are required by state law for large projects and they typically take a year or longer to complete.

As those who followed the Liberty Quarry project may remember, a draft version of the environmental impact report for the Altair development will be published and submitted for public review.

A final report will be published later that includes responses to the issues and concerns that were raised by residents and public agencies after a review of the draft version.

Once that process is complete, the project can be considered by the Planning Commission and then the City Council.

The money to pay for the study has been deposited with the city by Ambient Communities and there is no fiscal impact to the city, according to a staff report by Armando Villa, the city’s community development director.

In addition to paying for the report, Ambient is paying the salaries of two planning staffers who have been working on the project.

The current zoning for the acreage is a hodgepodge that includes industrial park, office, open space, medium and high density residential. Ambient is proposing a specific plan for its acreage that would require the council to approve a general plan amendment.

Similar amendments have been approved for other parts of the city, including Harveston and Redhawk.

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