Small problem, big mess

When the county Board of Supervisors meets on Tuesday (Sept. 11), it will have a real sticky wicket on its hands—a relatively small matter that has turned into a big mess, procedurally and otherwise.

As we reported last week (”Canyon builders have residents fuming,” Newslines), two men from the San Diego area who want to build two homes off Centerville Road in Butte Creek Canyon have stirred up, willy-nilly, a hornet’s nest of opposition to their effort.

At issue is their request for a grading permit to put in a driveway. The county Planning Commission, after holding a lengthy hearing over two meetings earlier this year, denied the permit. The supervisors will be hearing an appeal of that denial.

The rub? The driveway has already been dug—without a permit.

The parcel map called for two separate driveways, but instead the developers dug a single driveway in another location designed to serve both houses. Unfortunately, the driveway they cut is too steep and is eroding, apparently into a historic duck pond across the road. It is also sited on a blind spot in the road, creating a potential hazard.

Neighbors’ efforts to alert the county to the problem got no response—until an attorney stepped in.

So what to do now?

The supervisors can approve the permit, with the proviso that the narrow driveway be widened to allow access to emergency vehicles, but that wouldn’t solve the traffic problem and would reward bad behavior. Or they could deny the appeal and order the developers to fill in the cut they’ve made—at which point the developers could apply for permission to grade two other driveways.

Either way, county officials need to watch this project more closely than they have in the past. And they need to sit down with the developers and their neighbors to work out a solution all can agree on. This little problem has gotten way bigger than it should be.