New home under construction
The frame of a new home under construction. Courtesy County News Center

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 Wednesday in favor of a zoning change allowing single-family units on a parcel that was purchased for possible development near the city of Escondido.

Supervisors approved a “village residential” designation — which allows up 32 single-family units — for five parcels on 7.56 acres on Pinecrest Avenue. The decision was connected to a decade-long mapping inconsistency affecting the parcels, which are located in an unincorporated residential portion of the North County Metropolitan Subregional Plan Area, which is surrounded by the city of Escondido.

According to the county, the General Plan’s land-use map was changed to allow multi-family housing across the five parcels, but the zoning wasn’t updated, limiting development to single-family housing.

The county Planning & Development Services department recommended the board approve environmental findings and zone the parcel for single or multi-family development.

Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher said supervisors were voting to ensure consistency on land use, zoning and the county’s General Plan, and that no final project was up for adoption.

Property owner Bijan Eftekari told supervisors that he would love to build homes in the area with the goal of making them affordable for younger buyers. Eftekari said he understood area residents’ concerns about any future development. “I’m not trying to destroy the way they are living,” he added. “I am a family man.”

Efteikari’s attorney, Matthew Peterson, praised county staff for their property analysis, but said there is no justification to reduce density. Peterson added that the property is close to mass transit, with available public services.

Six Pinecrest Avenue residents who spoke during the meeting urged the board not to approve any zoning that would harm the neighborhood’s rural character and create more traffic.

Steve Jacobs said the county should meet current zoning requirements, not what was proposed in 2011, and that the closest transit center is nearly two miles from the parcel. He added that any major development would impact his own front yard.

“There are many, many more appropriate sites” for affordable housing in Escondido, Jacobs said.

Supervisor Jim Desmond, in whose district the parcels are located, said he toured the site last week and agrees with residents that a large housing development is not consistent with the neighborhood.

Desmond — who proposed the village residential zoning as a balanced approach — said while he would love to see more housing projects built, the land is too close to Interstate 15 “and the noise was deafening.”

Air quality is also a factor, Desmond said. “I don’t see this to be a shining example of site to address housing shortage, but every project helps,” he added. “We have to be reasonable.”

Board Vice Chairwoman Nora Vargas said many are fighting for affordable housing, but at the same time there’s an attitude of “just not in my back yard.”

Vargas said she agreed with Desmond’s proposal, but said the board must better address the lack of affordable housing, and where those projects are located. She added that communities such as Barrio Logan and San Ysidro deal with poor air quality every day.

Fletcher said Wednesday’s vote demonstrates the challenges of creating more housing, especially when it comes to choosing sites.

Fletcher added that he’s a “great proponent” of multi-unit dwellings, but said such a project isn’t realistic for the Pinecrest property, given the need for a better sewer system and roads.

Supervisor Joel Anderson was absent Wednesday due to illness, according to the board clerk.