The 2,600-acres of rugged scenic open space in northern Santee is controlled by a New York financial holding company, The Jeffries Group, that absorbed HomeFed Corporation - the current owner of the Fanita Ranch property.
Executives and Fanita consultants have been contributing funds directly to City Council candidates and to PACs like the Deputy Sheriffs Association which launders the funds to support developers’ favored candidates.
The intent is to buy a highly profitable General Plan Amendment from the City Council that allows the project to proceed.
Massive Fanita sprawl development projects have been stopped by a public referendum vote in 1999 and by three court decisions from 2009-2012. The public rejected City Council approval of the first project in a landslide 2/3 vote. For the second project, the court found the project Environmental Impact Report (EIR) deficient on issues of fire safety, water and endangered species.
The current Fanita application is for over 3,000-units without a school, or 2,949-units with a school.
The Revised EIR states the project would have significant adverse impacts to transportation by generating over 25,000 vehicle trips per day as it locates over 8,000 new residents in a CAL FIRE designated Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone.
The project would also have significant adverse impacts to public safety, climate, water, endangered species and aesthetics that were not fully disclosed by the Revised EIR.
A firm hired to prepare the Fire Protection Plan, Evacuation Plan and biological report was fined by the State Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) for illegal money laundering of campaign contributions during the initial push for the Fanita project approval 20-years ago.
The developer-friendly Santee City Council pushed the Save Santee Initiatives off of the 2018 ballot to provide the applicant an opportunity to gain City Council approval for the project ahead of the peoples’ vote on protecting the existing General Plan requirements. The exact timetable for the project entitlement process is uncertain.
Fanita could have been acquired for a recreational regional park linking Mission Trails to Sycamore Canyon parks from a willing seller in 2010. The city rejected public funds from the Department of Defense REPI “Buffer Program” that could be used to mitigate military training operations and protect MCAS Miramar from encroachment. Hence, this multi-decade land-use battle in Santee continues to this day.