The council cleared the way for the 203 acres of the Castlerock Project -- which will include 283 single-family homes, 147 multi-family homes, a four-acre public park, trails and 94 acres of open space -- to be annexed by the city of Santee. The council could have retained the project area within San Diego's boundaries.
City staff recommended allowing annexation because the project will have a greater impact on the East County city, and the location across the street from West Hills High School is far from existing city of San Diego infrastructure.
"I think it makes sense all the way around that Santee service and take the benefits from this project," said Councilman Scott Sherman, who represents the area.
City of Santee Planning Director Melanie Kush told the council that her city supports annexation of the site, which is north of Mast Boulevard, between Medina Drive and West Hills Parkway. Upon completion, the development is expected to house more than 1,000 residents, according to city documents.
Under the first of the dual scenarios proposed, the developed portion would be detached from the City of San Diego and annexed into Santee, with most of the open space areas remaining with San Diego as part of Mission Trails Regional Park, according to city staff.
In the second of the options, a 422-housing unit version of the development would remain part of San Diego, officials said.
Council went with the City staff recommendation that the they approve both scenarios related to the development, along with permits and an environmental report. In July, the Planning Commission approved of only the annexation scenario, but the council vote takes precedence.
The Santee City Council and the Padre Dam Municipal Water District still need to approve annexation, which would then go before the Local Agency Formation Commission.
The project will include the widening of Mast Boulevard from West Hills Parkway to the SR-52 onramps, the addition of a raised median and an additional two traffic signals along Mast.
Phil Conner, president of the Sunset Greens Homeowners Association in Santee, showed support for the project in telling the council that Castlerock will improve recreational opportunities, the quality of planned development and economic opportunity in the westerly neighborhoods of Santee.
Public speakers who oppose the project told the council that developer Pardee Homes failed to provide infrastructure, would eliminate a trail, would add traffic and build against open hills that are prone to wildfire.
The company's Jimmy Ayala countered that Castlerock was a "sensitively designed" project following a decade of planning, that preserves environmental resources and is consistent with the city's zoning plan. He also said that the project will create 650 construction jobs and could produce 500 permanent jobs.
Javier Mainar, chief of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, said authorities have been concerned for years about fire danger in the area, but the worries were allayed by conditions in the annexation plan.
-City News Service contributed to this report.