Atascadero seeking comments on Eagle Ranch environmental report

View from Eagle Ranch near Atascadero
View from Eagle Ranch near Atascadero

Atascadero planning officials are seeking feedback on an environmental impact report for Eagle Ranch, a controversial and long-awaited development south of the city.

City Council members in 2013 gave the go-ahead for an environmental review to look at the potential impacts the 3,457-acre development would have on the area. Residents can submit their comments on the EIR to the city until April 1.

Eagle Ranch was part of Atascadero founder E.G. Lewis’ original colony blueprints, which he developed in the early 1900s. It’s now owned by the Smith family of Ventura, which bought the land in 1964 and began planning the development in the early 2000s.

City Council members first started considering plans to annex the area, which is currently under San Luis Obispo County’s jurisdiction, in 2008. But neighbors brought up concerns about the development when it was last discussed publicly in February 2013, saying they worried about the impact a big development would have on their quality of life.

In addition to neighbors’ objections, City Council members had concerns with the project related to the county’s existing tax-sharing arrangement for annexed properties. The agreement would send two-thirds of the development’s taxes to the county and one-third to Atascadero.

Development impacts and alternatives

The proposed development would include 494 single-family residential lots of varying sizes, 63 second units, 93 multifamily units, commercial space, a resort and 2,285 acres of agricultural land and open space, according to the report.

In March, the Smiths entered into an agreement with the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County to create an agricultural easement over an additional 3,255 acres of Eagle Ranch that weren’t part of the property to be developed.

The nearly 750-page document lays out potential environmental impacts and proposed mitigation strategies. Adverse impacts identified in the report include traffic problems and air quality issues related to emissions.

The report says traffic issues could arise because of the volume of vehicles that would access north- and southbound Highway 101 freeway ramps on Santa Rosa Road and Highway 41 between Portola Road and Highway 101 ramps.

The EIR also proposes a series of alternative plans that could be implemented. One alternative would involve reducing the size of the development to include only 348 single-family lots, cutting the number by 146. Another option would be to develop only the original 452 lots proposed in the colony blueprints and leave the property under county jurisdiction.

The city will hold a public study session to review the EIR in March.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseyholden27

Find out more

Residents interested in providing feedback can view the specific plan and EIR in print form at the Atascadero Branch County Library, 6555 Capistrano Ave., and at Atascadero City Hall, 6500 Palma Ave., or in digital form on the city’s website at www.atascadero.org.

Callie Taylor, a senior city planner, will receive all comments. She can be reached at 805-470-3448, ctaylor@atascadero.org and in the Community Development Department at City Hall, 6500 Palma Ave., Atascadero, CA 93422.