City Council instructed staff at Wednesday's meeting to come up with a resolution for zoning changes for land that includes iconic Santee restaurants Pinnacle Peak and Omelette Factory, the first step in developing a housing project on the site.
The 4-0 vote allows city staff to move forward with a proposal for land use changes, from general commercial to high density residential, and plans for a 101-unit housing project with a mix of townhomes and apartments. The vote gives the Council's blessing to the project, but they will still have to vote to approve the zoning changes and vote again to finally approve the project in the 7900 block of Mission Gorge Road.
City staff said one reason for the project is to improve the look of Santee's western gateway, and as a response to the reduction in number of vehicle trips in the area. Since the SR-52 expansion, average daily vehicle trips on that end of Mission Gorge Road went from 39,000 to 14,000, affecting business, according to the city staff report.
"Pinnacle Peak came in 25-30 years ago and it's ugly," said Mayor Randy Voepel.
The site is already surrounded by housing, except on one side.
Plans for the project would place 26.7 units per acre, with about 35 townhomes placed along the street and apartments in the back. The buildings would be three stories, and parking would include a mix of garage, car ports and surface parking. A swimming pool is also planned for the development. Driveways would be placed along Mission Gorge Road and Rancho Fanita Drive.
Voepel said he also likes the idea that the city would get more property tax revenue from residents on the site than the city is getting from sales tax from the businesses there now.
"Pinnacle Peak is not making a whole lot of money, as I understand it," said Voepel. "It seems Omelette Factory is bringing in business, but not generating a lot of money for the city."
City staff said that the proposed project would almost certainly raise property tax revenue on the site. Councilmember John Minto said he'd like to see the proposed tax revenue numbers compared to current sales tax.
Councilmember Rob McNelis said he doesn't like to see so many apartments coming into town because homeowners are typically more "grounded in the community."
City staff responded to McNelis, saying that Santee is the second lowest city on the list of apartment providers in the county.
The two restaurants have been on month-to-month leases and were informed about the proposed project months ago, according to the project applicant.
Councilmember John Ryan abstained from voting on this issue; his brother, former Santee City Councilman Hal Ryan, has ties to the land in question.