Questions & Answers
How large is the property and where is it located?
Fanita Ranch is a 2,650-acre property located on the northerly side of Santee. Approximately 2,000 acres will be protected natural open space, parks and agriculture. That’s about 75% of the total land area. The property has been zoned as planned development since Santee became an incorporated city in 1980.
What all is part of the Fanita Ranch plan?
In addition to a range of new homes grouped into several distinct neighborhoods, Fanita Ranch will include approximately 2,000 acres of protected open space, parks and a community farm, plus over 35 miles of recreational trails. There will also be small clusters of community-serving retail, along with sites for a new fire station and a K-8 school.
How many homes will be built as part of Fanita Ranch?
There will be roughly 2,950 homes in a range of different styles and price points to match varying needs – from young people and families looking for their first home, and empty-nesters looking to downsize, to executives looking to move their business to Santee.
How will people be able to access Fanita Ranch?
Fanita Ranch will be accessible by Fanita Parkway and Cuyamaca Street, as well as Magnolia Avenue. Appropriate improvements will be made to any impacted roadway so that new car trips will flow smoothly.
Will there be a school on-site?
We’ve been working with the Santee School District and have identified the need for a new K-8 school and set aside land for one to be built near a large community park, the community farm, and adjacent to open space.
What type of amenities will be available to the residents of Santee that don’t live in Fanita Ranch?
The nature preserve and trails, village centers, community farm and multiple parks including dog parks will be available for everyone to enjoy. We have also engaged in discussions with the City to gain a mutual understanding of how the development of Fanita Ranch can help to facilitate the implementation of a long-awaited local branch library and a senior center. We are striving to make Fanita Ranch a well-integrated addition to Santee, not a separate community.
Where is the project in the City’s review and approval process?
In November of 2018, the City announced a Notice of Preparation for a Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Fanita Ranch project. This is the beginning of the City’s formal - and public - review and approval process. During the EIR phase, the City and independent research professionals dig into every potential impact from Fanita Ranch, as well as the project’s planned mitigations, improvements and benefits to the City. Subjects for study include traffic, quality of life, socio-economic impacts, cultural heritage, and of course environmental factors. This process is long, thorough and spelled out in accordance with California’s stringent Environmental Quality Act. We expect a draft report to be complete in late summer 2019.
Will you be building this project in phases? What will be built first, and when will it be completed?
After Fanita Ranch is granted approval and all necessary building permits, the first phase of construction will be roughly one half of the Orchard Village neighborhood, including the farm, K-8 school site, fire station site and several hundred homes. Simultaneously, improvements to Highway 52 will be built, so that these important upgrades are completed by the time the first residents move in.
Is there a construction timeline for Fanita Ranch? I’ve heard it’s a 15-20 year plan. Why will it take that long?
The new homes at Fanita Ranch will not all be built at once, but in phases. It’s very typical for communities like this one to be built over the course of one or two decades. Steady, paced building allows us to minimize construction impacts and provide community and public amenities when they’re needed and make financial sense. If the project stays on track, we expect the first home to be completed in 3-4 years.
How can senior citizens benefit from Fanita Ranch?
Aside from the 55+ active adult neighborhood that will be part of Fanita Ranch, fees and taxes contributed by HomeFed can provide the capital needed to construct a new senior center that has long been desired in Santee, for all the city’s residents to use.
I know you’re building a new K-8 school on site, but will local high schools be able to accommodate the new students that will live at Fanita Ranch?
Our project team has had numerous discussions with the Grossmont Union High School District and they have assured us that the existing local high schools will have ample capacity to take on new students from Fanita Ranch. Fanita Ranch won’t be adding thousands of new students to the two local high schools all at once. Enrollment will be spread out over a number of years. By the time students from Fanita Ranch start going to local high schools, there will be ample seats available.
Will HomeFed be working with the local Native American tribes on the preservation of land and artifacts?
Yes, HomeFed has already met and consulted with members of the local Native American tribes regarding sites of cultural importance at Fanita Ranch, as well as traditional uses of the property and native plants and wildlife. Fanita Ranch’s trail and parks system may include informational signage or exhibits highlighting traditional Native American uses.
What about plans for a solar farm on the southern edge of the property ? Will it be visible to residents that live in those neighborhoods?
Sustainability is a core focus of our plan for Fanita Ranch, and a small, on-site solar farm will produce power for new homes and businesses. The solar farm will not be significantly visible from existing homes because it’s nestled on a plot located above those neighborhoods, substantially out of neighbors’ sightlines. As we developed our improved plans for Fanita Ranch, it was very important to us to make sure that current residents on the property’s southern border will not have their views significantly impacted.
What traffic improvements is HomeFed planning to make for Santee as part of Fanita Ranch?
Fanita Parkway will be widened from a 2-lane road to a 4-lane road between Mast Boulevard and Lake Canyon Road, and then widened to a 3-lane road from Lake Canyon to Ganley Road. Magnolia Avenue will also see improvements and will be extended from a dead-end street to intersect with Cuyamaca Street, to provide an additional, critical egress point in case of emergency. Cuyamaca will also be extended into the Fanita Ranch property and used as the primary entrance. On Highway 52, HomeFed will move the existing bike lane to the eastbound side of the highway and create an additional westbound lane to improve the flow of traffic moving up the hill and away from the city. HomeFed will also create an additional lane on the San Diego River Bridge heading eastbound. Importantly, plans also call for updating the Mast Boulevard on-ramp to Highway 52 to a high- capacity on-ramp, which will relieve the morning back-up of cars merging onto 52. Overall, these improvements will increase capacity on the 52 - adding 4 times the capacity that Fanita Ranch will generate at build out.
Will HomeFed be paying for improvements to SR-52?
So far, HomeFed has spent nearly three million dollars to evaluate potential roadway improvements, both for SR-52 and city streets. When it comes to addressing traffic on SR-52, state and federal funding is also being pursued. If that outside funding doesn’t come through, HomeFed is prepared to pay for these important planned improvements itself - namely the addition of a westbound lane from the Mast Boulevard onramp to I-15, and an additional estabound lane over the San Diego River Bridge.
How soon will Fanita Ranch’s planned road improvements be done? Will they be complete before new residents move in?
Yes. Traffic improvements to SR-52 - including the addition of one westbound and one eastbound lane - will be complete before the first resident may move into new homes at Fanita Ranch. This obligation will be spelled out in a formal legal agreement with the City of Santee, ensuring SR- 52 upgrades are finished according to this schedule.
It’s difficult to visualize the traffic improvements Fanita Ranch has planned. Will you be creating a visualization or graphic of the traffic improvements so it’s easy to see and understand?
Yes, that work is underway. We realize it’s one thing to hear about these improvements, but it’s a completely different thing to see what those changes will look like. That’s why we’re creating a simulation of the current traffic conditions and infrastructure, as well as our planned enhancements, so local residents can see how things will change and improve.
Will you add a lane on Highway 52 eastbound over the San Diego River Bridge?
Yes, this additional eastbound lane will be created as part of the planned improvements to SR-52, which will be completed before new residents move into Fanita Ranch.
When adding a lane to Highway 52, why not build a separate, dedicated truck route?
That is an option we are studying and considering. Our current plan calls for adding a westbound lane from Mast Boulevard to Interstate 15. This new lane could become a dedicated truck lane, which could help keep slower traffic from backing up other lanes as they climb up the hill on Highway 52 away from Santee.
If Fanita Ranch isn’t approved, what are the plans for improving Highway 52?
In short, SR-52 improvements won’t be completed for decades if Fanita Ranch is denied, leaving today’s traffic problems to persist. An impact analsyis report commissioned by the City found that without Fanita Ranch, there is no alternative funding source for upgrades to SR-52. CalTrans’ plans for the freeway corridor aren’t scheduled to take place until around 2050.
Has HomeFed explored the possibility of building a road that connects to Highway 67?
This is something we looked at long and hard as an option for offsetting new car trips from Fanita Ranch. After 18 months of meeting with Caltrans, SANDAG and property owners about connecting Fanita Ranch with Highway 67, no viable solution was identified. There are challenges and constraints that make this connection infeasible, including steep grades, poor soils and private property owners unwilling to sell or cooperate.
What is HomeFed going to do to mitigate for the excess noise, especially on city streets planned for expansion like Fanita Parkway?
Currently, the City is reviewing the Fanita Ranch traffic study to ensure it meets the strict rules and standards for safety, capacity and as a means to evaluate noise impacts. These noise impacts will be studied by the City as part of the project’s Environmental Impact Report. If studies show a widened Fanita Parkway, Cuyamaca Street, or Magnolia Avenue will create more noise than allowed under law, we will work with sound engineers and local residents to find a workable solution, which may include some kind of physical sound barrier.
What kind of homes will be built at Fanita Ranch?
The types of homes in Fanita Ranch will vary by neighborhood. Fanita Commons will have a mixture of townhomes, single family homes and active adult living, creating a village center atmosphere in which residents can easily walk from their homes to shops in the village center, to parks or access local trails. Orchard Village homes will be a little larger and cater to young families and empty nesters. The homes in Vineyard Village will be the largest, catering to families that need room to grow. Across the neighborhoods there will be a variety of home styles to choose from that fit Fanita Ranch’s desired agrarian feel.
What is the price range for new homes?
If new homes were built today, they would start in the low $400,000s and move all the way up above $1,000,000 for the larger homes on bigger lots. Those prices are a fair estimation given today’s housing market, yet we can’t know today what the conditions will be when the homes are actually built and ready for the market.
Will there be an HOA for the new neighborhoods at Fanita Ranch?
Yes, Fanita Ranch will have an HOA and manager that will maintain the property, parks and neighborhood facilities.
Will Fanita Ranch have single-story homes suited for grandparents and older folks?
Fanita Ranch is planned with a mix of one-and two-story homes. Many modern floorplans, including many throughout San Diego County, feature a master bedroom on the bottom floor with a loft or second bedroom upstairs. This design mimics the feel of a single-level home for easy accessibility.
Will Fanita Ranch have either a Mello Roos or Community Financing District (CFD)?
We are doing our best to avoid a Mello Roos, or CFD (Community Financing District). However, that depends partially on the specifics of a new K-8 school, and what state funding can be secured to support it. We will learn more as negotiations between the Santee School District and California Department of Education progress.
Are there other existing communities or neighborhoods that provide a good example of the style and feel that homes in Fanita Ranch will have?
The Village of Escaya in Chula Vista is a great example of the quality, craftsmanship and design of homes that we hope to bring to Santee. Other local examples of HomeFed projects include San Elijo Hills in San Marcos and Otay Ranch in Chula Vista.
What type of shopping and retail options will be available at Fanita Ranch?
A portion of the property will be dedicated to a new Village Center that will host community-serving retail, as well as a K-8 school site. We are hoping to attract businesses that fit the village feel like patio restaurants, a small grocery store, and a locally owned brewery.
How will these homes be protected from wild fires?
We’ve set aside a site for a brand-new fire station on the property. Every home will be fitted with interior fire sprinklers and will be built with fire- resistant materials. Managed vegetation will be required around homes to keep them safe. Fanita Ranch will create substantial new revenue to fund more sheriff deputies, fire fighters and first responders.
Will the new fire station be part of the Santee Fire Department or a separate entity?
The new station will be part of the Santee Fire Department. Funding for the new station and added fire personnel will come from impact fees paid by HomeFed, along with new tax revenue from the project.
Does Fanita Ranch have a fire evacuation plan?
Yes. In addition to a new on-site fire station, providing funding for fire personnel and emergency responders, using fire-resistant building materials and low-combustion landscaping, and maintaining expanded vegetation breaks, we also will widen the three main access roads to Fanita Ranch so there are two lanes leaving the property on each street. While regulations only require a single lane, we want to ensure that evacuation routes are more than is needed in case of emergency.
I’ve heard that some Santee residents currently can’t get fire insurance. Will the residents of Fanita Ranch be able to purchase fire insurance?
Fire safety and preparedness is a top priority. In addition to our robust fire safety plans, we are currently working with insurance providers to illustrate the strength of the community’s fire preparedness in order to ensure insurance will be available to all residents.
What will be done to conserve water?
We designed this community with a mindset of minimizing and conserving as much water as possible, using cutting edge water re-use and conservation technologies, as well as proven techniques like drought- tolerant landscaping and potential graywater recycling.
Where will the water for Fanita Ranch come from? Is there enough supply available?
Fanita Ranch will use advanced treated water from the Padre Dam Municipal Water District. It’s an entirely safe, sanitary and eco-friendly reuse of water. A Water Supply Assessment was conducted in cooperation with PDMWD showed that there is ample water supply available for Fanita Ranch.
Parks and Trails
Will there be parks in the community? Are they open to the public?
Yes, there will be parks, trails and open space woven throughout the property for everyone in Santee to enjoy. In fact, every home will be within an easy walking distance of a park or recreational trail. For the first time ever, the public will have access to more than 35 miles of trails to hike, run, bike and explore the property. Best of all, the trail system will connect with existing trail networks that link to Goodan Ranch, Sycamore Canyon and Mission Trails Park.
What about parking for people using the new trailheads that provide access to the open space preserve at Fanita Ranch?
We’re excited to allow nature-lovers to explore the property for the first time. It’s too early in the planning process to say precisely where trails and trailheads will be located. Some trails will be moved, and other natural trails emphasized. No matter the final location of the trails access points, we are listening closely to our neighbors and will work with them to determine what type of parking is needed for hikers.
Will the City of Santee have to maintain the new parks at Fanita Ranch?
The City will own, program and maintain the community park. Economic analysis shows that revenues from Fanita Ranch will provide ample funding for the City to oversee this new community asset. The Fanita Ranch HOA will maintain the other parks, neighborhood facilities and oversee the management of those properties.
How can residents be assured that the open space won’t be developed some day?
The open space included in the Fanita Ranch plan will be protected in perpetuity. This will be guaranteed by a legally binding agreement between the City and HomeFed that sets forth all the terms and conditions that must be met in order for Fanita Ranch to be built. One of those requirements will be that the areas not planned for development will never be built on and must remain public open space forever.
What is planned as part of the community farm?
Tucked in between the neighborhoods will be a working farm, orchard and vineyard. Each will connect to Fanita Ranch’s trail system and numerous parks so residents and visitors will see and feel the presence of agriculture in the community.
Will the onsite farm be organic?
The farm will be a biodynamic operation. In our effort to maintain an eco- friendly community, the professional farmers who will maintain the property will not use harmful pesticides.
Who will maintain the community farm, orchards and vineyards at Fanita Ranch?
The community farm, orchard and vineyard will be maintained by professional farmers working under an agreement to maintain the land.
Who is HomeFed, the owner of the Fanita Ranch property?
HomeFed Corporation is a real estate development company based out of Carlsbad, California with a successful track record in San Diego County. It specializes in creating vibrant, mixed-use, master-planned communities that combine innovative techniques and environmental stewardship, with special care to the needs of each unique community.
Two companies tried and were unable to develop this property in the past. What assurances are there that HomeFed will be able to get it done?
HomeFed is in a unique position compared to prior developers because we can take our time. We own the land, which means we aren’t beholden to the terms of any bank loan, and we don’t have to turn a quick profit for investors. As of today, we have already spent more than five years and millions of dollars doing our research and creating a plan that fixes the flaws of past plans, while matching the needs of Santee today and into the future.