Wednesday, November 25, 2015 • 03:49

VC Parks and Rec announces property acquisition

Details of the Lilac Hills Ranch project were discussed at the subcommittee meeting on July 16.
July 30, 2014
The Valley Center Parks and Recreation board began the July 16 meeting with discussion of a park proposal presented by Lavonne Norwood, subcommittee member for the Lilac Hills Ranch Project. Lilac Hills Ranch (LHR) is a proposed master-planned community built on 608 acres including 1,746 residences and 90,000 square feet of commercial office and retail space. The developer proposes civic facilities that include public and private parks, a private recreational facility, as well as public facilities including a school and fire station.

With every new development, a certain area is dedicated to parks. LHR intends to dedicate a 12-acre area for a public park. The ordinance states: "As a condition of approval of any development, the applicant shall dedicate land, pay fees in lieu of or in combination of both." Norwood proposed dedicating a six-acre park instead of the suggested 12-acres with the remainder to be applied toward fees in lieu of the six acres.

General Manager Doug Johnson stated that for every house built in Valley Center, $3,800 is applied to PLDO (developer fees) and further clarified Norwood's proposal stating maintenance and operational fees were being considered, not PLDO fees. In addition, in acquiring a park there will be fees associated with the park and the residents who are benefitted by it are responsible for the fees to maintain the park.

Norwood proposed, "In order to receive final approval of the LHR Project, the developer must dedicate a six-acre public park to the VC Parks and Recreation Special District plus a fee in lieu of land to go to the VC Parks and Recreation Special District for rehabilitation of existing parks or recreational facilities."

To this proposal, Vice President Tom Bumgardner stated, "I know for a fact that the county is going to want monthly money to pay for maintenance besides this. That's what they told us in the meeting."

According to Johnson, the money in lieu wouldn't be spent for maintenance of the park. Instead, there would be an assessment; a Mello-Roos that property owners would be responsible for.

"In the paperwork, it said it would be taken care of by the Home Owners' Association from the Specific Plan," said Johnson. "There's $3,800 per unit built in our sphere of influence. That goes to the county and can only be used on new parks, the acquisition of park land, or a playground in a park. It can't be used for the maintenance."

Johnson further explained that the HOA can get a certain amount of money, but if they fall by the wayside, all that money is lost.

"So there's another way of going about doing this," said Johnson. "Maybe it's wrapped up in their CCRs so they can't get out of paying that money in the future."

The question was asked if a six-acre park was built instead of the 12-acre park, where would the extra money go? Bumgardner explained the County Parks would set aside a trust fund to determine how the money is used.

"We'd like to get our own fund set up so we can handle funds through our own park system and get out of the county system," said Bumgardner. "The county wants to do a JEP with us and we've got to get out of that because no matter what we try to do, they say wait a minute, you can't do that, you've got to go through all this litigation which burns up half our money."

If VC Parks and Rec disassociates from the JEP with the county, a Community Service District would be established subservient to the State of California not the County of San Diego.

"We have that much power because we're a Special District in the State of California just like a city would be," Johnson said. "We have to legally get this thing organized so we have control over our own funds and we don't have it yet. So by doing this, they'd have to set up a fund for us, a maintenance fund for those parks, and that would be good for all the parks. So the money could be used for the maintenance of the park. The PLDO funds are used to build things, capital investments, not to maintain the property. That's why we're having such a problem."

Concerning the escrow update, VC Parks and Rec is in the middle of escrow, which ends Sept 29. The Board reported doing due diligence on working on boundary lines for the 15 ˝ acres out of a 43-acre plot being purchased from funds recovered from selling corner property. The money from the sale went back to the county requesting Parks and Rec buy at least 6.9 acres within nine months.

The $300,000 property is located between Vesper and Valley Center Road. A working 90-foot well exists on the property with water at 24 feet. Because it has its own meter, domestic water would not be used but it would require $6,000 to be updated.

Presently engineering is being conducted on boundary lines metes and bounds. The requested easement along the western borderline could be problematic due to county sight distance requirements for cuts and driveways, however if the easement is only intended for due purposes, it is a viable solution as long as the gates are not used as a thoroughfare.

According to Johnson, there have been some designed activities on the park plan for the property being acquired. Park costs would be phased out with developer fees as projects are built on the property. Over time with PLDO funds, state parks, playgrounds, or a community center, for instance, could be built.

Included in the General Manager's report was the Western Days update in which Johnson reported not receiving any money from the county. After a previous check associated with 2012 Concert in the Park is cashed, the county will issue the $15,000 to pay back the grant in question. According to Johnson, because the county is closing their books for the end of the fiscal year by July 1st, the issuance of a check is not a priority.

There was an unfortunate incident of graffiti reported after a wedding held at the park recently. After the event, bathrooms were non-functioning so it was determined that park restroom facilities would be blocked off and portable facilities used to remedy the problem for future events held at the park.

It was also reported that YMCA is removing modulars in Adams Park and contacting Parks and Rec to advise them on taking out the modulars in a way not to tear lines or break the asphalt.

The water shortage affects everyone in different ways. There now exists the problem of a well starting to run dry along Cole Grade Road. After 30 minutes, the pump saver turns on shutting down the well requiring a 30-minute wait for the return of water. This differs drastically from many previous years when water was pumped without interruption. Furthermore, the well located on the Little League field is pumping excess calcium and sand, clogging the irrigation ends creating constant maintenance. Due to the decreased water supply, there is a problem irrigating the six acres of grass in 100 degree heat dependent on the water.

During the meeting, the General Manager announced that men's softball is starting. In addition, the Skate Park is planning a fundraiser in August. Furthermore, the Bike Pump Park was reported as being almost completed. Concerning other interests, the 1 ˝ -2 acres of mountainside created by extensive grading to create the trail behind Cole Grade Park will be utilized as terrain for mountain bikers.

This year's Park and Rec budget allows for the resurfacing of tennis courts to be financed by developer funds. Before the Board discussed the 2014-15 budget, it was noted that an active pool program was implemented in which the Adams Park pool is rented every Saturday and Sunday. It was announced this program has created a $20,000 profit for the Parks and Rec District this season.

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