Mayor Desmond Pressures San Elijo Hills Development Company on San Elijo Hills Town Center Development

San Elijo Hills

Council member Chris Orlando invited HomeFed/San Elijo Hills Development Company to give an update on the status of the undeveloped portions of the San Elijo Hills Town Center. Paul Borden, President of HomeFed spoke before City Council on Tuesday evening. You can watch his recorded presentation here about 15 mins into the agenda. Here are our efforts to summarize the presentation and the exchange with The Mayor and Council Members.

Paul Borden started with some history. San Elijo Hills Development started developing San Elijo Hills in 1998. The Town Center was started in 1999. Albertsons was built in 2007, and the MarketWalk shops were completed in 2009. In 2011 and 2012, Chase Bank and Pacific Preschool purchased land and developed the respective buildings. Paul stated the remaining portions have been HomeFed’s “Achilles’ heel”.

Borden explained that HomeFed has looked at various mixes of retail, medical, office, live/work units. HomeFed has worked with two different agencies to secure a developer or builder. Borden spoke about the slowdown in retail and his resistance to bringing a big national chain. Borden spoke of his patience and support of the current retail and the San Elijo Hills Development Company marketing campaigns to encourage residents to shop locally.

Borden briefly mentioned that he has two developers/builders that are interested in developing the parcels and HomeFed is now in negotiations with those perspective developers/builders. He did not give specifics.

Mayor Desmond asked what is the status of completing the entire development of San Elijo Hills? Borden responded with the fact that there are roughly 3,300 approved units/homes with 150 units/homes left to build-out. Borden estimated they are 85% to 95% complete with San Elijo Hills. Mayor Desmond responded “The time is now to build out the Town Center. People have bought into the dream.” Borden responded: the residents of San Elijo Hills are our biggest supporters and they have purchased multiple homes in our community and sold homes to friends etc. Mayor Desmond responded with “Get it going, get it done.”

Borden explained this is a project of pride for HomeFed and they would like to keep the standards high and they did receive the feedback from the residents who were not looking for 40 more residential units in the Town Center. HomeFed just could do the  “Just build it and they will come concept”.

HomeFed did not volunteer any specifics on the two negotiations they are engaged in. Council Member Jabara pressed this issue and Borden responded with: they’re looking at a mix of residential and retail and no longer interested in building the approved parking structure. It sounded like they are looking at 9-12 row homes and up to 13,000 SQF of retail but Borden said the retail will not work. HomeFed would like to keep the quality of spaces and construction on par with the rest of San Elijo Hills.

Council Member Orlando stated “I’ve been involved in this project for a very long time, but we now have roofs and we now have traffic it’s been 14 months since your last plan was presented in a San Elijo Hills community forum and you’ve been silent with the public and residents”.

“Residents have seen significant retail go up around them. They ask how are they able to get that done?” Council Member Orlando felt the shops are doing well and it’s time to talk about “what is next”.

Borden again stated he was not supportive in placing a national brand and he was going to work with The City and possibly scale back their current entitlements. Borden stated he was willing to meet with The City.  Council Member Orlando encouraged them to be receptive to more community input.

At this point the tension escalated the mayor said “Same old song and dance. Same story waiting for the perfect time, you guys made a lot of money in San Elijo Hills, you are still going to have ups and downs but I’m very frustrated. I will not vote to approve anymore parcel maps for San Elijo Hills residential units.” Borden responded “That is not helpful. I did not come here to get into an argument with Council”.

Council member Jabara stated you are 85% to 95% built-out, the roads are impacted, the schools are impacted, residents see large new anchor tenants nearby in La costa and they are frustrated. Borden said we hear you, maybe we need to scale back maybe we need to be more flexible, we just can’t build retail and have it sit vacant.

Mayor Desmond removed item 8 from the Council consent calendar, this was a final map approval for tentative subdivision map for Phase 5 units 8 and 9 (48 Lots) of San Elijo Hills near Double Peak park and the water tower.

Listen to the video recording of the meeting here the Town Center discussion starts at 15 mins:



  • I can’t wait to see something go in there. I suggest a Lululemon. Have you seen how many of the ladies in SEH wear that exclusively!? Also the sign that reads something to the effect of “shopping and eateries” on the way into SEH kills me. There is no shopping there. Take it down or get something in there. If you put something in with a big enough draw, it will boost business for the surrounding businesses.

    • Great comment on Lululemon, but doubtful that the store would expand here. However, the same boutique-style retail with a cautious mix of big chain (condensed version) retail is the appropriate mix. Greater foot traffic would slow down the ridiculous road traffic (more on-street parking). Just get going, Borden and stop holding out in hopes of adding more residential units. Move on to the next development but finish ours first!

  • Why not let chain stores come in? They would actually know how to stay in business. I now drive 15 mins to go eat at La Costa Town Square and spend my San Elijo money over there. Maybe if the residents started a civil suit things would get done faster.
    Built it and they will come.

  • I was at the meeting 14 months ago. He said he would come back with a new proposal and we haven’t heard from him since. You can’t tell me that an Einstein Bros. and a Jamba Juice or something like that would do poorly here. Borden needs to think outside the box or give back the nationally acclaimed master planned community title. Think about it, we’ve waited longer to get a town center than the Chargers have for a new stadium. We need both!!!

  • “Borden said the retail will not work.”
    Of course they just want to build more condos instead, to put more green in their pockets.
    The city of San Marcos hasn’t done much either on this side of the hills in 14 years ( compared to Carlsbad).
    The new K8 school is also another example of poor planning.

    It is up to us, residents to fight and claim what we’ve been promised !
    Retail will work!

  • This is a joke on the part of Homefed not getting anything done. Glad the city is finally putting pressure on. SEH residents should take action and demand a vibrant town center as promised for over 10 years.

  • The City should continue to pressure these Developers. I bought into the dream in 2004 and am tired of seeing empty, weed-packed lots with ugly chain length fencing surrounding the so-called dream area of thriving businesses. The Developers need to fulfill the dream ASAP. Residents are getting really tired of this situation and the City pressure is our only hope. n

  • Come on!!!!!! Let’s stop hearing excuses from these Developers who have made a lot of promises to the residents of San Elijo for many years. Get going on completion! It really has become ridiculous! Thank you, Mayor and Council, for speaking up for us. The Developers should have the property owners’ interests as a primary concern since the buyers believed and supported these Developers. You’d think it would be the Developers who would have our best interest in mind…….obviously NOT.

  • The pressure from the Mayor and Council comes too little too late, they were part of the whole process with the developers since the beginning and haven’t done much to help SEH.
    Now faced with complaints from voters they pretend to act on it 12 years later!
    Of course they’ve blamed SEH residents for the departure of Lowes and the lack of revenue of some businesses in San Marcos.
    They see SEH residents as a stream of revenue for San Marcos and they don’t want to see it to be too self contained
    SEH residents want to shop, dine in SEH as promised rather than to go over the hills in San Marcos!

  • At least make it look pretty while you’re taking 10 years to decide what you’re going to do… Plant some grass or some trees… Take down the chain link fence… I bought into the same “promise” – twice. National retail is fine – a legitimate restaurant serving 3,000 homes will be incredibly successful. A legitimate Starbucks would do just fine… Or at least plant some grass.

  • How do we engage the mayor for an update? It’s ridiculous to have a fence up in the towncenter for 14 years. What are they protecting us from with the fence? Weeds?

  • Mayor Desmond Contact Information
    Phone: (760) 402-0448
    Fax: (760) 744-9058