Are ‘significant and unavoidable’ impacts worth it to develop land west of Old Town?

Coming back from our Fallbrook offices Friday, Nov. 10, I sat in traffic on Interstate 15 for a much shorter time than usual. On any given day, I am looking at a 90-minute trip between our Fallbrook and Temecula offices during rush hour. However, on Friday, it only took me about 50 minutes to transverse the dreaded I-15 during rush hour, probably because it was a federal holiday.

That time is still too long in my opinion.

On a day when I have to beat the traffic between the two offices, I can do the drive in 25 to 30 minutes, and that’s OK. But as I sat in traffic Friday, I began thinking about what the newly proposed Altair housing development would mean for those daily commuters.

According to the article “Temecula planning commission to look at large development slated for land west of Old Town” in this week’s Valley News written by Associate Editor Alex Groves, this housing development, which is proposed for the foothills west of Old Town Temecula, would be one of the biggest in the city’s history.

With 1,750 housing units, an elementary school, trails, bike paths and a public park, all those cars will feed onto Main Street, and I have to say, I have some concerns.

I know there are worries regarding what this kind of development would do to the mountain lion population, which is already hemmed in by development. The developer’s plan to pay for a study on the viability of a mountain lion crossing across the I-15 is just ludicrous if you ask me. I don’t believe, for even a hot second, that this plan will work. Even if signs were posted, I would hazard a guess that we are still going to see animals being struck on the interstate. While the posted speed limit is 65 miles per hour, I get passed up daily by those drivers rushing to get from place to place, and I freely admit that I never drive the speed limit. I am pretty sure a sign or two won’t get people to slow down.

Speaking of people, let’s get back to those commuters. I am one of the fortunate ones who on a typical day does not have to get on the interstate to get to work, but my husband does, my kids do and I have countless friends who take the I-15, twice a day, every day, Monday through Friday.

The finalized environmental impact report said that the I-15 southbound ramps as well as Ynez and Rancho California roads are areas which could possibly be affected by the development.

Let’s do some math, just for the fun of it. They want to build 1,750 units, which means about, oh, I don’t know, maybe 1,750 more cars on the road – at a minimum. If each of those units has two drivers commuting, that’s 3,500 more cars on the road every day. Aren’t our roads congested enough?

Other concerns according to the finalized environmental impact report included “significant and unavoidable” impacts to greenhouse gas emissions, noise and vibration.

I understand that we need more affordable housing in the valley, and I agree with that fact. But when you factor in the impact that this development will have to the hundreds of thousands of people who call this valley home, it just seems like a bad idea to me.

Without increasing the number of lanes on I-15, this kind of development is just going to make things worse for those who must commute to and from work.

By the time you read this article, the planning commission will have already met and made a decision on the proposed development. I sincerely hope they decide to send this one where it belongs, straight into the trash can.

But, hey, it’s only my opinion.

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