Special Report

4-Acre Recreational Parcel -- An Update

Background

Over the past few months, you probably have read bits and pieces in the Newsletter about the "4-acre parcel." In previous years, you probably also read about the trials and tribulations of the "Shea parcel" and attempts by the community to get Shea Homes to construct a recreational facility on the site. These parcels are the same plot of ground.

This Special Report is designed to give you some background information, update you with the current conditions, and answer some questions that you may have had. There is still a lot to do, but much has been accomplished. Additional information will be published in the Newsletter as it becomes available.

The Latest News

Escrow has officially closed on purchase of the 4-acre parcel by the City of San Diego from Shea Homes. As shown in the photo below, the parcel is located just west of the Scripps Ranch Marketplace (new Vons), on the south side of Scripps Poway Parkway, immediately west of the Jack-in-the-Box and Washington Mutual Bank.

The four community groups, who are charged with planning the site--the Miramar Ranch North Planning Committee (MRNPC), Scripps Ranch Planning Group (SRPG), SRCA, and the Scripps Ranch Rec Council (SRRC)--voted unanimously at their February meetings to recommend that the parcel be developed by the YMCA. The four groups also voted to empower the YMCA to immediately initiate a community needs assessment survey.

The current zoning designation is commercial-recreation, which is appropriate for developing a YMCA. The city intends to place a deed restriction on the parcel that will ensure it can only be used for recreation.

In Case You Wondered

The following are a few questions that you might have had.

Where did the money come from to buy the parcel?

The Scripps Ranch Village and Country Settlement Fund (V and C fund) was used in conjunction with City funds to purchase the 4-acre parcel. The 4 acres were appraised at $2.9 million; but the City negotiated a purchase price of about $1.2 million from Shea Homes, with approximately $1 million being paid from the V and C fund.

Approximately $73,000 remains in the V and C fund for future use by Scripps Ranch. The fund was established as a result of a lawsuit in the early 1990's involving the Milt Upton property, which is now the San Lucena and La Merida neighborhoods. The fund was created to benefit the Scripps Ranch community; funds are managed by the City and distributed by the City Council.

Who's overseeing the project?

The joint 4-acre parcel subcommittee, composed of members of the MRNPC, SRPG, SRCA, and SRRC, has been working on this project since last summer. This subcommittee has been recognized by our Councilmember Brian Maienschein, the City Planning Department, and the City Parks and Recreation Department.

The subcommittee is the community entity that will oversee this project to its full completion. They take their actions back to their respective groups for approval. The subcommittee will have its first meeting with YMCA representatives in April.

What criteria were used by the subcommittee for the site?

  • The use must serve the entire family;
  • The development and operations must be entrusted to a "major player;"
  • Programs and uses should not duplicate the Scripps Ranch Recreation Center in the community park;
  • Uses must be consistent with the Miramar Ranch North community plan; and
  • Land use must be consistent with the parcel footprint.

How was the YMCA picked to develop the site?

An initial survey was prepared by the 4-acre parcel subcommittee to identify possible uses for the parcel. The survey was distributed via:

  • A form in the January issue of the SRCA Newsletter;
  • On the SRCA web site; and
  • At a booth at the Scripps Ranch Farmer's Market during two weekends.

Results of this survey were summarized in the SRCA Newsletter and are on the SRCA website. The initial survey indicated a substantial positive response for the YMCA to develop the parcel.

Were alternative developers considered?

Yes, several were considered. These include the Boy's and Girl's Clubs, the Scripps Ranch Swim and Racquet Club, and a private recreational developer.

What happens next?

The YMCA has started the planning process, which includes performing a set of more detailed surveys. The "Y" will hire a professional firm to prepare and compile the surveys. They will conduct both random and directed samples of the community. These surveys basically will ask the community if they want a "Y," and if so, what facilities and programs they would like the "Y" to provide.

This second survey by the YMCA will test the ideas put forth by the community in the initial survey to see how the greater community would accept these facility and program ideas. From this information, a preliminary plan, cost estimate, and a relative timeline with the required sequence of steps will be prepared.

Following this scoping phase, a more directed feasibility study will investigate the anticipated timeline to seek potential donors, lead givers, and capital campaign leadership. Preliminary cost estimates range from $3 to 5 million dollars to complete the project. The YMCA has indicated it would potentially contribute as much as $1 million.

When will the "Y" open?

Timing of the opening is contingent on the desired scope of the project and the funds to be raised. Based on a similar project in Torrey Hills, this is likely to be 2 to 4 years. In the meantime, the YMCA will design and pay the costs for the interim use, which will be designed consistent with the survey's outcome of permanent use.

Can we use the site during fund raising?

The YMCA has agreed to handle the interim community recreational uses of the parcel. This allows for the development of the parcel and eliminates the need for city money to be used to fund temporary uses during the fundraising period for the permanent facilities. The YMCA should be able to begin providing programs and services soon after the planning process is complete, which is expected to take five to seven months.

What if this deal falls through?

A strong partnership between the community's needs and desires, assistance and support from the city, and experience from the YMCA in managing these projects gives the project a strong foundation for success. Also, the community's reaction to the first surveys indicate a positive response to a YMCA in Scripps Ranch. The primary challenge now that the City owns the parcel, is to raise sufficient funds to construct a facility that both the community and YMCA desire.

The subcommittee will oversee and monitor the progress of the surveys and their results. The subcommittee also is charged to review project costs and design efforts, as well as fundraising. Therefore, the subcommittee and its parent organizations will have awareness of ongoing successes and problems. If failure ever appears imminent, the subcommittee will need to start the process over to determine an alternate family-wide community recreational function for this community asset.

What kind of facilities or services can we expect?

The type of facilities and services will be determined based on the outcome of community surveys. A professional group who routinely does similar recreational surveys will conduct them. The subcommittee's first community survey indicated the top three interests were: a multipurpose facility, a pool, and a play field.

How much will residents pay to use the facilities?

When the YMCA is completed, fees will be based on the usual YMCA structure. Typically, the YMCA does not charge fees more than many in the community can afford to pay.

Most YMCAs do charge dues, but most also allow residents to pay for individual services and programs. For example, at the Rancho Family "Y" in Rancho Penasquitos, a family can have a membership or can just come and swim for a fee during designated hours.

The specific fee structure will depend on the services that are offered, which will be defined during the planning stages. The subcommittee and City Council office will be involved in assuring that the facilities meet the subcommittee's criteria and that the fees are reasonable since the City has a continuing interest as the property owner.

Questions or Comments

If you have any questions or comments, please contact members of the SRPG, MRNPC, SRCA, or SRRC, or call Peter Wulff at 518-3086, or Claudia Unhold at 549-8386.