Fanita Ranch Development EIR

Making a Strong Case for Smart Growth in Santee

The City of Santee initiated a major development known as Fanita Ranch, proposed to include 2,949 residential units, mixed-use, and agricultural components—plus a K-8 school site, parks, and open space on an undeveloped 2,638-acre site.

The City prepared a specific plan to address development standards on the project site while integrating with two concurrent planning processes: the Multiple Species Conservation Program Subarea Plan and the City’s Climate Action Plan, the Sustainable Santee Plan.

For years, Fanita Ranch has been steeped in controversy, with the public expressing concerns about possible impacts on the environment, including water supply, biological resources, fire protection, and traffic. The EIR thoroughly addresses these issues; however, the project will likely face legal scrutiny.

Harris got involved to prepare a comprehensive EIR and manage a large team of specialists responsible for the technical analysis of key environmental issues. Harris brings expertise in project management, preparation and peer-review of CEQA and NEPA environmental documents, strengths in noise, air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and biological resources, and regulatory permitting.

The Harris team coordinated regularly with the City’s legal team. To help withstand legal challenges, Harris staff worked to identify potential environmental concerns early in the process—and to ensure issues are adequately addressed in the environmental documents.

Core Elements

This major development would be clustered into three villages to preserve natural open space areas, drainages, and key wildlife corridors. The development would include residential space, retail and office space, civic space, a village green, a community park, neighborhood and mini-parks, a K-8 school site, an active adult neighborhood, and agricultural space. A centralized farm would serve as both a food source and focal point in the community. The project would also extend three Circulation Element roadways: Fanita Parkway, Cuyamaca Street and Magnolia Avenue.

Harris prepared a project-level EIR, analyzing the environmental impacts of two land use scenarios: 1) the proposed project with a K-8 school and 2) the proposed project without a school and instead adding 59 additional residential units. The second scenario would occur if the Santee School District does not acquire the designated site for a school use.

The EIR addresses 18 environmental topics, ranging from aesthetics, air quality and greenhouse gas emissions to transportation, wildfire and noise. The EIR also identified and evaluated five project alternatives that would reduce some of the project’s significant environmental impacts.

To support the EIR, the Harris team prepared technical studies and/or conducted a peer review of the following:

  • Noise Technical Report
  • Water Supply Assessment
  • Water and Sewer Studies
  • Air Quality Analysis
  • Health Risk Assessment
  • Energy Analysis
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions Analysis
  • Biological Technical Report

Due to the exhaustive analysis, the EIR is nearly 1,500 pages containing 34 appendices totaling more than 10,000 pages. The administrative record was also prepared concurrently with the EIR.

Meet the Team

Diane Sandman, AICP

Diane Sandman, AICP

Vice President / Environmental Planning + Compliance


City of Santee


Santee, California




Environmental Planning + Compliance