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Planners envision future of South Village


April 09, 2014
In the next few years change is coming to Valley Center. Between the impending sewer expansion, plans for several residential developments, and a surge in commercial proposals, our small country town is about to get a makeover.

And in an effort to get ahead of the changes, over forty community members gathered at the Valley Center Library April 2, to share their vision for the future of the South Village. Representatives from San Diego County Planning and Development Services, as well as RBF Consulting were on hand.

RBF Consulting has been working with property owners in Valley Center since October 2013, to create a form-based code, which would provide a clear framework for future development in the South Village. Ramona and Alpine have recently gone through similar processes. The code should be completed by the end of this year and will be used as guiding principles in the county's general plan as soon 2015.

"You'll have a sense of where the buildings are going to be, what the nature of those buildings is going to be, what the streets are going to be like, and the area between those buildings," said Dan Wery, senior project manager for RBF Consulting.

The South Village generally covers the area along Valley Center Road between Lilac and Woods Valley roads. The area includes existing residential, commercial, and agricultural properties, as well as the proposed 118 acre Orchard Run subdivision, Hatfield Plaza shopping center, and several other properties awaiting development.

Much of the visioning process involved ideas for the street front, which Wery called the "public living room." The form-based code would hopefully ensure continuity of parking, distance of buildings from the street, and sidewalks on Valley Center Road.

Community members who attended the visioning session were invited to post sticky notes with ideas of challenges and opportunities in developing the South Village, as well as what their "ideal village" would be. By the end of the night one wall in the room was covered with hundreds of yellow notes, ensuring the RBF team had their share of homework to do.

Some recurring ideas of challenges were: slowing down traffic, keeping the small-town character of Valley Center, staying mindful of fire hazards, and implementing a more expedient drainage infrastructure. Opportunities included: making Valley Center more pedestrian-friendly, beautifying medians and roadsides, increasing the sense of community, and fostering local businesses.

However, the answers for an "ideal village" were much more varied. Pasadena, Paso Robles, Santa Barbara, Julian, Sedona, and Riverside's Victoria Gardens were all put forward as models for the future of Valley Center.

An open house, continuing from the visioning workshop, took place on Saturday, April 5 at the Valley Center Municipal Water District. Based on the ideas and objections from these two visioning sessions, as well as additional outreach from the past few months, RBF Consulting will prepare a first draft of the form-based code.

There will be several opportunities for the public to comment on the development guidelines before a formal proposal will be submitted to the county.

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