San Elijo Hills considering ridge line golf course

Staff Writer
SAN MARCOS ---- Developers of the 3,400-home San Elijo Hills project are weighing whether to build a ridge line golf course that would have views of the Pacific Ocean and overlook the city, a developer said Monday.

Curt Noland, general manager of San Elijo Hills, said Monday that approved plans for the development allow a golf course but that there are still no concrete plans to build one.

Noland said that if plans move forward, San Elijo Hills could submit an application to the city by year's end. But he said San Elijo Hills may choose to delay or scrap the project altogether because of design challenges and economic constraints.

"We want to focus on getting our town center up and going, our schools up and going, our park up and going," Noland said. "(A golf course) isn't the top thing on our agenda," Noland said.

The development will include a 19-acre San Elijo Hills Park, that will be connected to the 207-acre San Marcos Regional Park and 18 miles of trails. It will also include a 13-acre retail center, two elementary schools and a middle school and sites for churches and a day-care center.

If built, the 18-hole championship golf course will stretch along the Cero de las Posas ridge line from just below Double Peak west toward telecommunication towers at the western border of San Elijo Hills.

The area where the golf course would be is preserved for open space in the approved development plans, city Planning Division Director Jerry Backoff said.

Elfin Forest resident Kim Hunter, a vocal opponent of San Elijo Hills, said she'd like to see the space remain open. At a workshop on a separate 260-home development last week Hunter said she was concerned the golf course would create more traffic.

"It's very upsetting that's supposed to be open space for San Elijo Hills," she said Monday.

Hunter said she'd rather see the area preserved for parks or trails, which generate fewer visitors and less traffic.

"It's just not the right place to be sticking a golf course," Hunter said, citing the area's proximity to Lake San Marcos and smaller waterways. She said she worried about drainage and chemicals that would be used finding their way into those water ways.

"We have enough golf courses. We don't need another one here," she added.

Although there is a golf course in Lake San Marcos, San Marcos has just one golf course ---- the Twin Oaks Valley Golf Course off Twin Oaks Valley Road.

San Elijo Hills could veto the golf course for a number of reasons, Noland said. "There are challenges up there. We may not pursue it for economic reasons," he said.

Among the challenges, the soil is rocky and irrigation would require a separate water storage unit, he said.

In some neighborhoods, a golf course appeals to residents and homeowners are willing to pay more because they have a view of the greens, said Noland.

But since houses can not be built on the ridge line the golf course would be above the community, Noland said. "We'd be building a golf course we couldn't see from the community," Noland said.

The golf course would likely be open to the public, but Noland said that plans are still very tentative. For instance he isn't sure what amenities would be built along with the golf course.

San Elijo Hills would work to make the golf course fit into the natural environment using native vegetation as a buffer between the course and homes below and using as little turf as possible, Noland said.

"Rather than scraping out all the natural habitat. We would emphasize that rather than try to minimize it or obliterate it," he said.

Backoff said that a golf course would be allowed in the development but would require a conditional use permit and a number of approvals from other government agencies such as the State Fish and Game Department.

Contact Katherine Marks at (760) 761-4411 or