Homeowners Sue Developer
Rancho Cielo residents say they were duped, amenities
haven’t been delivered.
By David Garrick, .Jan. 25, 2014
SANTA FE Five Rancho Cielo Estates homeowners are suing
the developer of their upscale neighborhood, arguing it isnt
as exclusive as they were promised.
residents claim their luxury homes would be worth significantly
more if the developer hadnt begun allowing some smaller
houses to be built in the 528-home neighborhood, and if all
the amenities promised to early buyers had been completed.
Those amenities include a competition-sized swimming pool,
sauna, formal gardens, an equestrian center, a fitness center,
a formal courtyard and a recreation center with multilevel
Rancho Cielo Estates LTD instead decided to build additional
housing where those amenities had been planned, the suit alleges.
In addition, the developer began allowing lots as small as
5,000 square feet, down from the 1-acre minimum originally
in 1,740-acre Rancho Cielo, which is on the eastern edge of
Rancho Santa Fe near Lake Hodges and Escondido, typically
sell in the $2 million to $7 million range. Homes elsewhere
in Rancho Santa Fe often sell for $10 million or more.
Fagrell, president of the company developing Rancho Cielo
Estates, declined to comment on the suits.
our policy not to discuss pending litigation, he said
lawsuit a class-action filing that could eventually
include more Rancho Cielo homeowners says the developer
used high-end mass marketing to dupe buyers.
reasonable person would expect that if a seller in this type
of situation represents certain amenities and touts a certain
exclusivity, then the community should have those
amenities and that status, the suit says.
homeowners attorney, Lee Sherman, said Friday that the
neighborhood his clients were promised wasnt delivered.
declined to say what the homes of his clients are worth, or
what they would be worth if the community had been built as
initially planned. But he said analysis of sale prices in
the area shows his clients lost a lot of money.
value of land decreased in a way that was inconsistent with
the market, once the high-density projects got rolling,
for Rancho Cielo were initially approved by the county in
1981 but have been amended at least six times since then.
While some amenities have been eliminated, two parks have
been built and a 9-acre recreational area is planned for the
undeveloped northern section of the neighborhood when housing
is built there, county documents show.
in the eastern part of Rancho Cielo are under construction,
while the southern and western portions of the neighborhood
have been partially developed.
said he expects the number of plaintiffs in the suit to increase.
About 50 Rancho Cielo homeowners attended a community meeting
about the case on Monday, he said.
addition to reimbursement for financial losses, the suit asks
the court to impose punitive damages to discourage future
alleged fraud of a similar nature.
in Rancho Cielo began to increase in 2012 when the developer
proposed building 42 condominiums at the neighborhoods
southern edge off Del Dios Highway. County supervisors rejected
the proposal, but in August approved 24 single-family homes
for the same area, which straddles Via Ambiente.
group of residents has appealed that approval and filed a
separate lawsuit contending the environmental analysis is
flawed because it relies on studies conducted in the 1980s.
on Del Dios Highway is a lot different now than it was then,
said Escondido attorney Everett Delano, who filed the suit.
details, visit cieloawareness.com