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Development meeting

About 200 people attended Tuesday night’s development presentation at the Murieta Equestrian Center.

Red square See the meeting presentation (7.5-MB PDF)

The North developers announced Tuesday night that they are withdrawing their application to annex the first phase of the Retreats development into the Rancho Murieta Association, an application that has generated an RMA survey of community sentiment and a petition drive to force a yes-no vote.

“Our goal was to have one association,” development partner Tom deRegt told about 200 people at a community meeting called by the developers. “Ultimately, ownership feels strongly, I feel strongly, that that is the best thing for this community. It appears that is not going to happen, you know, based on the process that the RMA board has pushed forward.”

Tuesday’s meeting, the second offered by the developers since they filed plans with the county a year ago, was held at the Murieta Equestrian Center.

“We’re going to talk to the RMA board,” deRegt said of annexing the 22 Retreats homes, “but we just don’t feel that we’ve got the support. We think the community believes that one association is the best thing; a lot of people I talk to do.  But we don’t have the ability to, obviously, get it done at this point. We’re going to continue the dialogue, but we will be moving forward with the Rancho North Association.”

The meeting was structured much like the first, in August, which resulted in a turn-away crowd at the Community Services District Building.

The session was opened by Carol Anderson Ward, head of the development group and owner of the equestrian center. She emphasized her family’s connection to the community before turning the mic over to deRegt. There was warm applause at the conclusion of each of their presentations.

Ward said she and John Sullivan, her former husband, have lived here more than 35 years.

“We’re not going anywhere,” she said. “We want the things to happen to be built in this community that make this an even better place to live. ... We want amenities. We want growth. We want rooftops to support a shopping center that brings us everything we need so we’re not up and down the highway so much. We want a community center. ... We want it all here, and we’re trying very hard to do it right.”

The crowd applauded when she spoke of the new North Gate, which the developers designed and helped fund. “We’re very proud of the front gate. It was the first thing we were really involved in out here, and I think we’ve got it as good as a front gate gets,” she said.

DeRegt, a Carmel-based developer and partner in the Murieta project, covered a range of topics in a presentation that ran about a half-hour.

He said the original plan to the county called for 924 lots. Now the plan is at 827.

“All I can tell you is what we proposed in October 2014 is not going to be what’s in front of the board of supervisors, and it’s not going to be the final approved project,” he said. “It’s an iterative process, based on consultants, environmental constraints, community feedback.”

Here are some of the topics he covered.

The Mutual Benefit Agreement, which the previous developers and RMA signed in 2003

“Our proposed total unit count is less than the total unit count in the Mutual Benefit Agreement,” deRegt said. “I want to clear one thing up here. When we submitted our application in October 2014 to county staff, we told them that our unit count was above the MBA agreement, but that we knew during the process, that where those lots were going to be placed, that we were going to back down at the MBA number. So never did we jam through a plan with more lots. We’ve always known the MBA document was there.”

He called the MBA “a flawed document” that doesn’t serve the developers or RMA well.

MBA “Exhibit H,” which sets lot-number limits in different areas

DeRegt emphasized the change in plans in the last year, reducing the count of planned homes, and acknowledged some areas aren’t in line with the MBA. “We know there’s some areas we still need to talk about, to look at,” he said.

He argued that planned Village A, the land along Murieta Parkway, is poorly served by the MBA’s limits. The MBA allows as many as 329 lots, but that would mean smaller lots and higher density than proposed or the removal of many more trees, he said. “We think it’s very inappropriate and will not be proposing it,” he said. Instead, the developers want to move some of these lots to other proposed villages, which has generated criticism because it means increasing the number of homes in areas of great natural beauty.

Lot size

“One thing I want to make sure I emphasize here," deRegt said. "With our proposed 827 lots, 292 of those lots are proposed to be less than 12,000 square feet. Over 550 (approximately) of our 827 lots are estate-sized lots. No one’s trying to jam production (housing) in here on anybody. These are very generous lots.”

The Retreats

DeRegt pointed out the current developers inherited approved plans from the previous developers.

“Now, there were flaws, or variances, in the approved product, in the approved map, because design guidelines changed after that product was approved by the county,” he said. “So some of the discussion that’s going on, as far as the motivation and the product, we want to understand that we inherited product, we inherited lots, and lot locations, and we attempted to make that product better and bring that forward.”

He said the county was “extremely rigid” about attempts to change the tentative plan and improve it.

Community center

The developers believe it’s important. “We think it’s going to be more difficult now that we’re going down the road of two associations. ... It’s another layer, but we’re not going to give up on it,” deRegt said.


DeRegt: “One of the questions that was asked of me was ‘Why didn’t you come forward sooner in this process?’ I said, ‘Well, to be perfectly honest, we have to be respectful with the county. We have to respect the county’s process and work with staff. If we jump too far out ahead of them, they’re not going to be very cooperative as we work through the process.’”

Rather than field questions from the full audience, the session broke up into small groups where participants could focus on a particular topic – shopping center, Retreats, infrastructure, hotel, Murieta North.

One person in the audience objected to the arrangement and said there should be a forum for questions to be asked and answered in the full group. Some audience members applauded his comment.

Recent related coverage:

PDF icon dev-presentation-1015.pdf7.56 MB

Graig Miller's picture
Joined: 05/16/2011
Posts: 18
Post rating: 24

Development and HOA...

In my opinion...

Development of Rancho Murieta is inevitable and part of the master plan of the community.  It is going to happen, but my concern is HOW it happens.

It is not a good idea to have multiple HOAs.  Pooling money, resources, and efforts together will allow our community to benefit the most.  It would be impossible to limit access to parks, firework shows, gates, and roads from another existing HOA.  A new HOA will utilize the existing ammenities whether you like it or not.  We need to be ONE community, instead of separate chopped up factions within an existing area.

At the same time, the Development group should show some sincere understanding of what makes Rancho Murieta have the character that made all of us move here.  The wildlife, terrain, oaks, river, and lakes are beauty that we enjoy...beauty that made us move AWAY from the city.  If new development removes the feel and character of the community, that's not good either.  Part of the character of the North exists because of the rules and regulations that have been put into place by the RMA; big garages, custom homes, certain types of roofing, etc.  While a developer may be ABLE to find ways around these items to maximise profit, that doesn't mean they SHOULD do those things...in the spirit of what makes Rancho Murieta great.

To me...the community should not try to make developers miserable for every nail that they hammer... but developers should not railroad a maximum profit by overhaulting the character of this awesome place to live.

The best part of Rancho Murieta is how everyone waves to one another, enjoys parades and fireworks together, and shows a sense of caring for the community.  In that same spirit, there is definately common ground for development while maintaining the existing character of our community...and done so in the same warmth and kindness that I see every time I take my family on a ride in our golf cart.

There is compromise out there, we just need to find it.

Douglas McDevitt's picture
Joined: 05/24/2011
Posts: 54
Post rating: 28

Variance Voter Ballet

So, does this mean it is no longer necessary to drop off our ballets or, should we still drop them off for good measure?


Bunky Svendsen's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 165
Post rating: 210

No annexation-so what?

Looks like the developer saw a little opposition and decided to take their ball and go home. And I say good. Who would want to annex something that is totally out of sync with what has been deemed mandatory according to the CC&R's and MBA. I believe I heard something about "zero-lot lines" for The Retreats? Did I hear that right? Isn't that where you can grow shrubs and anything imaginable up against your neighbors house or bounce a few basketballs on your neighbors wall with no consequence? Sounds pretty cozy to me. And also it appears that 3/4 of these production homes are going to have 2 car garages. 2 car garages? Youve got to be kidding me! What century are we in?  Why don't they just take it back to the 50's and build 1 car garages and give them a little more living space?Are the developers selling storage space over by the airport? 3 car garages shoud be the standard, period. And by the way, build them to the proper depth according to CC&R's...What would it mean? A couple less feet in the back yard?

Janet Bach's picture
Joined: 02/27/2013
Posts: 35
Post rating: 31


Does anyone see these 22 homes as very short term rentals? Similar to what the Villas used to be? Just curious.

Jan Bach

Al Dolata's picture
Joined: 08/09/2007
Posts: 94
Post rating: 129


It is regrettable that RMA was not able to find a way to annex the Retreats and forestall the addition of yet other entity to the community.  Almost every one, including all three candidates for RMA office , would prefer a unified HOA, but many on their own terms only.

The board was unable to get by the CC&R sub section entitled "Prohibition on Tract or Production Housing".  It is fair to say that there is no state of the art definition of either of the operative terms in that title.   The Retreats will consist of 22 units.  There are four models, these vary in square footage from 2200 square feet to 2800 square.   A substantial difference.   But wait.   Each model comes with three different facades.  The difference here is also substantial.  There is no uniformity at all.   Do the math:  three facades on four models equals twelve looks among 22 units.   Uniformity?   I don't think so.   

I am part of the consensus that holds the current board to be truly excellent, maybe the best we have ever had, but I think they got this enormously important call wrong.  Now we have a house even more divided against itself. 



Al Dolata

John Merchant's picture
Joined: 08/30/2007
Posts: 122
Post rating: 225

MBA Exhibit H

I wanted to point out that the MBA numbers used in the developer's horse barn presentation continue to be both incorrect and out of compliance. The developer has taken credit for a reduction of lots in the "Residences" sub-division.  Those lots are not included in this proposal and they do not belong in this analysis.  The MBA allows for 238 units to be constructed in the Residences.  A tentative map was created in the county planning process that reduced that density to 198 units.  This tentative map will expire before any future submissions will allow development in that section to proceed.  A new owner might well resubmit maps to expand that density.  He would be within his rights to do so. A final map in that subdivision could well call out 238 units. In fact, THIS developer should be allowing for the 238 units in the total cap of units that is being allowed for all of RM North so THAT developer gets what he is entitled to.

 The math remains fuzzy but I suspect it will take a reduction in total lots to approximately 750 to get in compliance with the present agreement. When the dust settles and all the mapping and lot reductions are complete, the RMA Board can evaluate the result and compare it to the agreement,  It can then do what it fees is right and enforce the agreement. Presently, the numbers do not work.

The reductions in the Village A densities reflect the topography. The overlay map of what the property would look like with more units is appreciated, but irrelevant. The reductions of density in Village A do not impact the requirements of the agreement that the developer comply in all of the other Villages. The agreement allows for a ten percent fudge of the Exhibit H numbers. That is all it allows. 

The posts above state a well known fact that everyone would like one homeowners association. I wish to point out that even if the rules could be bent to accomodate these three, separate annexations totalling 84 units, it would be virtually impossible to bend them for the future annexation request of a Village A.  Two associations was (and is) a foregone conclusion without the negotiation of some kind of new, global agreement.

The harsh realities of development, annexation and architectural control are the same now as they were in 2003. Like 2003, there is lot of pro/anti annexation conversation, but a complete lack of alternative ideas that protect the RMA with regard to the key issues of ingress/egress, collection of comparable homeowners dues and use of parks and common streets. This is NOT about four different types of houses and six garages.  It is about fidicuary responsibility and protecting the rights of the association's membership.

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