Monday, January 29, 2018 / by Sean Zanganeh
In 1976, The City of San Diego created a general zoning plan which designated the area for future urbanization. No one acted on the opportunity to develop the land for years however, and meanwhile a vast network of environmentalists and anti-growth activists were gaining a strong foothold in the local San Diego politics. Environmentalism is a way of life on the west coast, and many people there realize the importance of conservation. San Diego City Government soon became heavily influenced and eventually controlled by environmental interest groups.
Meanwhile the La Jolla Valley property remained undisturbed and pristine, held safely by the Teamsters who had no specific plans for it, until in the early 1980’s Dr William R. “Bill: Bright had a tremendous vision to build a large university near San Diego. Dr. Bright is the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. Dr. Bright wanted to build the headquarters for his organization on the new University Campus, build residence for thousands of students. He planned to build another thousand residences on the property to sell in order to create an endowment for the new college. He quickly selected the La Jolla Valley property for his purposes, and purchased it from the Teamsters.
In 1983 plans for the Campus Crusade for Christ University were approved by San Diego City Government, however the environmentalists and anti-growth activists became very unsettled and stirred to block the project. They insisted on a public vote, and the approval for the University was repealed in 1985 with Proposition A, which restricted development of the area to one house per ten acres or for one house per acre with approval. Anything more than one house per four acres would require a public vote.
The ensuing legal battle between Dr. Bright and the City of San Diego resulted in bankruptcy for Dr. Bright. The La Jolla Valley property went on sale via the bankruptcy court. In 1987 Potomac Investment Associates purchased the land for 53 million dollars. Partner Fred Maas withdrew the lawsuit, and renamed the La Jolla Valley tract, now calling it Black Mountain Ranch. Mr. Maas wished to build a world class PGA golf course on the property.
In 1990 the environmentalists again resisted construction, this time successfully placing a two year moratorium on building in the area. In 1992, one day after the moratorium expired, Black Mountain Ranch received permission to build residences at a rate of one per four acres, and approval for two golf courses on the property. Unfortunately specific stipulations involving roads rendered all plans cost prohibitive. The necessity of such far flung houses did not fit the growing dream for Black Mountain Ranch which included close knit communities and common areas within walking distance. In 1994 a vote for greater housing density at Black Mountain Ranch was soundly defeated. Black Mountain Ranch sold off a portion of their land, now known as Santaluz to offset expenses.
After the vote Maas had an idea. He began to court the friendship and support of the Sierra Club. He explained that he wanted to build a green community with solar energy, recycling, and green building materials. With the support of the Sierra Club the next vote passed. In addition the City of San Diego forced Black Mountain Ranch to pay a substantial cost in roads, including funds to complete the State Route 56. This was an unprecedented requirement, since no private company has ever been forced to pay for an interstate highway before. Maas sold another property which is now called Verrazzano.
Finally in 2001 the City of San Diego approved the construction of a community to be called Del Sur for construction on Black Mountain Ranch property. In 2003 construction began with a bridge, then grading and internal street construction. The “Ranch House” which serves as a community information center was also created at this time. Home construction soon followed with beautiful energy efficient green living houses. Many homes were available by 2006, but construction still continues in order to meet the demand for this popular and award winning community.
Black Mountain Ranch LLC kept their word to the Sierra Club and created one of the most energy efficient, environmentally conscious, green communities in the world. Many of the areas are completed while some are still under construction. Residents adore living there, and it is a perfect balance of small town community, convenience to San Diego, modern convenience and vast open natural spaces. 60% of the land will be left open for the enjoyment of hikers, and as a buffer between other communities.
When this vast project is completed, Del Sur will feature 2,582 single-family residences and 469 affordable apartments for those who make below 65% of the area’s median income. There are plans for a business park, a hotel, a fire station and two schools. There are also plans for a town square and retail space.
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