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San Elijo Hills takes smart growth principles to heart

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Smart growth is more than a cliché at San Elijo Hills, coastal North County's award-winning, ocean view community, where a lively town center is now under construction and more than half of the 1,920-acre community has been set aside as open space

The town square is the center of community life in San Elijo Hills. It is surrounded by a 19-acre park, a 30-acre educational campus with an elementary and middle school and several urban-style residential neighborhoods.

"San Elijo Hills embodies many of the principles put forward by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Smart Growth Network and other smart growth advocates," said Curt R. Noland, general manager of the community.

It's no coincidence that San Elijo Hills is at the cutting edge of smart growth. During the initial planning stages, the developer sought counsel from one of the masters of the New Urbanism movement, Peter Calthorpe, principal of Calthorpe Associates of Berkeley. Calthorpe's plan for the town center included a unique road configuration that greatly enhanced the walkability, efficiency and charm of the towncenter.

San Elijo Hills' town square has become a venue for casual gatherings and community-wide events, such as the annual Easter Egg Hunt and Fourth of July Parade. It has even become a favorite location for wedding photography -- at least once a week professional photographers can be seen positioning brides in front of the fountain.

Today, the town square is bordered by urban-style condo neighborhoods, the entrance to San Elijo Hills Park, San Elijo Middle School (which is temporarily being used as a K-8 school until the adjacent elementary school opens this fall), San Elijo Café and the visitor center.

When complete, San Elijo Hills' walkable business district will feature a grocery store, hardware store, post office, neighborhood retailers, cafes and offices.

The adjacent San Elijo Hills Park is the main trail head for a growing 18-mile network of trails that winds through San Elijo Hills' 1,115 acres of open space. The trail system, which offers sweeping ocean and countryside views, has been cleverly designed to include periodic points of interest, such as viewpoints, rock formations, nature quotes and seating.

San Elijo Hills has accumulated some of the most sought-after awards in the homebuilding industry from the National Association of Home Builders, the Pacific Coast Builders Conference and the Southern California-based MAME Awards.

Since the community opened in 2000 on the highest point in coastal North County, it has been one of the top selling planned communities in the county. There are now approximately 2,500 families living in eight neighborhoods. It will ultimately be home to about 3,400 families.

The community features a wide array of neighborhoods designed to meet the needs of singles and families of all sizes and circumstances. Home prices currently range from the $500,000s to the high $1 millions.

"By fully addressing economic, social and ecological issues, San Elijo Hills protects the environment, helps to reduce automobile use, maintains open space, offers homes in a variety of styles and prices and provides a lively mixed-use towncenter," said Noland. "It's the picture of smart growth."

Information on San Elijo Hills can be found at www.sanelijohills.com

Submitted by San Elijo Hills.

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