Subdivision would double size of town

A proposal that could nearly double the size of San Miguel by creating a de facto community northwest of the North County town will face the scrutiny of county supervisors Tuesday.

Developer Brent Grizzle’s San Miguel Ranch, already rejected by the Planning Commission, called for a commercial center and 389 homes — 318 of them single-family dwellings — on 550 acres.

Grizzle appealed the commission’s action to the Board of Supervisors. Since then he has decreased the acreage from 550 to 205, and also altered his proposal by all but eliminating the commercial center.

But he has not reduced the number of houses he wants to build, and may want more of them to be single-family and fewer of them multi-family. Encouraging the building of homes that middle- and lower-income residents can afford to buy is a county priority.

Grizzle’s revised proposal changes the housing density from 0.7 units per acre to 1.9 units per acre.

Before they can act on his proposal, supervisors will have a procedural question to answer — whether they can legally act on Grizzle’s new configuration. The Planning Commission said the changes in the parameters of the project could trigger the need for a new environmental document.

Either way, San Miguel Ranch continues to provide controversy for the small community.

Its location — more than a mile northwest of the existing town — has led some to argue that it would create two San Miguels, separated by both Highway 101, and by the income levels of the communities’ respective inhabitants.

A county environmental impact report warned of dozens of other potential problems, including loss of agricultural land, traffic safety, air pollution and loss of the town’s rural character.

At the Planning Commission hearing, Commissioner Anne Wyatt agreed with the planning staff that San Miguel has room to grow, but said the way to do it is with a comprehensive community plan, not one big development.

Technically, the decision would be a change in the county’s General Plan — its blueprint for regulating development. The project, which also would include roads, trails and open space, would be built in four phases through 2017.

Planners expect the project would bring about 1,100 residents on top of the estimated 1,500 people who already live in the town.

The San Miguel Community Services District supports Grizzle’s proposal.