Why Aspen?

We’ve gotten some questions about moving the Esperanza Hills project access to Aspen.  This post should clarify things.

The possible access points to Esperanza Hills, per the Environmental Impact Report were:

  • Option 1 – Stonehaven.
  • Option 2 – Aspen.
  • Option 2A/B – San Antonio Canyon.

Option 1 is the project’s ONLY legal access, but due to twists and turns, elevation changes and it’s location in Blue Mud Canyon with limitations from the existing easements (MWD water line), it was not the preferred route.  Additionally, it could not handle the amount of traffic expected to be generated by this project, so a second access was needed as the main entrance.

Option 2A and 2B was a route down San Antonio Canyon behind existing homes.  2A included an equestrian and hiking trail next to the road, while 2B did not.  Allowing this road to cross this city-owned land would have violated City laws. As residents we rely on certain governmental planning documents to know what the city has planned for our region’s future.  These documents are the adopted by the City and include: the General Plan, Zoning & Land Use Maps, Specific Plans and the Municipal Code.  Furthermore, when the houses were put in along San Antonio, the City and developer (Warmington Homes) agreed to certain stipulations–the most important one was that the land behind the homes on San Antonio was always be open space and parkland.  The City’s Municipal Code states very clearly that roads are not allowed on open space lands.  To have allowed a road down San Antonio Canyon opened the City up to future litigation by us and the homeowners, not to mention it sets a terrible precedent that our own laws don’t matter.

Option 2 is the Aspen route.  This street is already owned by the City and had been planned for use as access to this project in the City’s General Plan since 1993.  That said, using Aspen (as well as 2A/B) would required access rights and grading easement across the neighboring property Cielo Vista.  Removing the 17 homes lots in Planning Area 2 meant that Cielo Vista no longer needed access via Aspen, but Esperanza Hills still needs access.  This access is currently being negotiated between the two property owners.

In short, Protect Our Homes and Hills simply asked that the City follow its own laws and the Council opted to do that—for now.

The reiterate the status of the project:

  • It was approved in June with the requirement that access be worked out with the City and neighboring Cielo Vista.
  • We do not believe the project is safe–especially in light of the 2008 Freeway Fire.  We all know that existing residents had trouble evacuating on both sides (San Antonio and Via del Agua/Stonehaven) and with more houses in the hills, surely it will be worse.  Whether the bottleneck happened on San Antonio or on Aspen–there is still a bottleneck.
  • Our lawsuit continues and the access battle continues. The battle presses on and we will continue to fight to stop this project, now with the focus on Aspen.