Archives: Current Issues 2004


We are happy to report that views of the River Valley from San Dieguito Road just south of Fairbanks Ranch Country Club Golf Course are coming back!

Fairbanks Berm, after lowering

Prodded by the River Park’s Joint Powers Authority, the City of San Diego has changed the direction of the Club’s bulldozers. Instead of creating six- to eight-foot high berms that blocked vistas of the River Valley, the big machines are now lowering and reshaping the dirt mounds so that we can all enjoy the beauty of the Valley once again.

Thanks are due to the River Park staff, led by Executive Director Dick Bobertz, and the JPA, specifically the City’s First District Councilmember Scott Peters, for their persistence in curbing unauthorized construction work and restoring the views. — Ann Gardner

City staff has inspected the grading of berms at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club and found that it is NOT in compliance with the approved plans for the project. The Club, according to the City, has complied with the stop work order and has also indicated they will "re-contour the work to comply with an approved grading plan."

Evidentally that means the Club will be submitting a new grading plan for review. We hope the City will insist on a plan that is consistent with the Valley landscape. The River Park has assured us they will advocate for that outcome.

So will we.- Ann Gardner

Views of the San Dieguito River Valley from El Camino Real have been buried under six to eight feet-high dirt mounds, along with promises made in 1982 by Fairbanks Ranch Country Club to maintain the original open-space character of the area.

The offensive mounds of dirt, or berms, appeared along San Dieguito Road in Fairbanks Ranch earlier this fall as grading for expansion of the Club's current 18-hole golf course went forward. Hopes for restoring the 75-acres to natural habitat, rather than allowing the development of an additional nine holes, were dashed when the Club decided to reactivate a 20-year old permit before the approval expired.

We are happy to report, however, that the City of San Diego has issued a stop work order on the berms, and the apparently illegal grading is being investigated. Thanks to the Joint Powers Authority that oversees the San Dieguito River Valley Park, and its Citizens Advisory Committee, are in order. Further, First District Councilmember Scott Peters is "committed to removing the berms if legally possible", according to his aide, Richard Geisler.

Members of the JPA who voted to send a "strongly worded letter" to the City of San Diego objecting to the berms include County Supervisor Pam Slater, Del Mar City Councilmember Jerry Finnell, Poway City Councilmember Betty Rexford and Escondido City Councilmember Ed Gallo.

The private Club apparently does not appreciate what a sweetheart deal it got in 1982 when the City approved the project that destroyed huge amounts of open space/flood plain and altered forever the natural flow of the river with an earth-lined flood channel in the San Dieguito River basin. To read the draft EIR prepared for the project, which also included the construction of almost 350 houses, is to read and weep. It is deplorable that a project would be approved in an almost pristine river valley to provide "needed housing and recreational opportunities" in the community of Fairbanks Ranch/Rancho Santa Fe - private luxury on public land.

To add even further to the project's flagrant disregard for a private takeover of natural habitat, open space and regional recreational opportunities, the Country Club has so far failed to live up to its agreement to build and maintain a public trail on the north side of the riverbank.

The Friends will continue to monitor this project carefully, and we will report all developments on this web site.

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