Commission gives Home Ranch designs passing grade

Lolita Harper

Hours of debate over Home Ranch were avoided at the Planning

Commission meeting Monday night, as most speakers -- even those

staunchly opposed to the massive development -- paid compliments to

the developers of the project's residential component.

Planning commissioners easily approved designs proposed by

Standard Pacific, whom the Segerstroms chose to design and construct

60 single-family homes and 83 townhomes on the northeast portion of

the 93-acre Home Ranch site. Although some portions of the proposed

housing tract call for the bending of city rules, commissioners said

the accommodations were painless to grant because they made for a

better overall project.

"This is a quality development that allows [Standard Pacific] to

build above and beyond what was expected," Planning Commission

Chairwoman Katrina Foley said.

Major aspects of the project fall in line with existing city

building codes, but the builders asked for exceptions in parking

requirements and in building heights for the free-standing homes.

Designs for the townhomes fall in line with city standards.

The proposed single-family homes exceed general height

requirements by 3 feet. Pacific Standard officials asked to build

30-foot homes -- just over the 27-foot maximum -- with chimneys that

would reach heights of 33 feet, which also exceeds the city's usual

maximum of 29 feet.

The project calls for a mix of four home styles: Tuscany, Italian

Country, Monterey and French Tuscany, which is the design that would

require a height variance. Standard Pacific representative Dana

Beaver argued the variety in the homes, and subsequently in their

heights, added to the architectural flare of the housing tract.

Planning commissioners and most audience members agreed.

Speakers said they appreciated the developer's effort to steer

clear of the cookie-cutter mold that is typical of many gated

communities. The rest of Costa Mesa touts variety in its housing

styles and designs and the proposed Home Ranch community would follow

in that vein, people said.

Resident Cindy Brenneman, who helped lead the opposition to the

Home Ranch project last year, complimented the designs and said she

believed Pacific Standard would build a quality project. However, she

was concerned that city officials were too ready to compromise the

city's rules. Brenneman said Standard Pacific should be able to build

a high-quality project that fell in line with building height

requirements.

"We set these criteria for a reason, and people come in asking for

a variance and we just give it to them," she said.

Commissioner Walter Davenport said the isolated location of the

new tract provided for reasonable leniency in the city codes.

Resident Paul Wilbur said Standard Pacific should make sure that

potential homeowners were aware of the truck traffic through the

area, which he attributed to the nearby U.S. Post Office.

Beaver assured him that prospective buyers would be forewarned.

The Pacific Standard project site is on the northeast portion of

the Home Ranch site, on the corner of Sunflower Avenue and Susan

Street. It lies alongside the administrative offices of the Auto Club

of Southern California. The gated community would consist of a mix in

townhomes and single-family homes, as well as two community parks, a

pool and a recreation center.

Other major components of the overall Home Ranch development

include an Ikea retail store, Emulex industrial headquarters and a

mix of campus-style office space.

The former lima bean farms, once cultivated and still owned by the

influential Segerstrom family, are bordered by Harbor Boulevard,

Sunflower Avenue, Fairview Road and the San Diego Freeway.

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