Staying in touch and watching for windows of opportunity has been a Rancon Group axiom since 1971. In fact, it’s our business to know the people and issues that shape the real estate market here in Southwest Riverside County. Recently, we hosted a small meeting of landowners and stakeholders in the area to discuss current and future opportunities. The news was good.
“What has been making us frown for the past several years is now making us smile,” Rancon Group President and CEO Jeff Comerchero told the group. “We are seeing movement in the market with new gains in home sales and prices being recorded almost every month. There is another cycle starting and the window of opportunity is becoming more visible each day.”
The purpose of the meeting, which was held on La Veranda at Europa Village, was to share the Rancon Group vision and plan of action ahead in an ever-changing landscape. In addition, the meeting provided the chance to review and discus some of the changes on the horizon. Comerchero noted that both the County of Riverside and many of the municipalities within Southwest Riverside County are gearing up for the next development cycle by reviewing and revising their respective entitlement processes.
“There are a lot of things that have changed since the last cycle,” said Comerchero. “Entitlement has always been an arduous process and it will continue to be difficult given new environmental and sustainable communities regulations.”
He mentioned two California bills often associated with global warming or climate change. SB 375 and AB 32 are seen as efforts to combat pollution issues by creating sustainable community strategies that result in a more sustainable environment. A part of these strategies is to create clustered development with commercial and recreational resources located closer to residential development.
Comerchero said that municipalities are leaning toward smaller lot development so that subdivisions can include more amenities such as parks and walking paths. In a recent case, the Rancon Group submitted a redesigned tract map to the County of Riverside that included higher lot density and more recreational amenities.
“The County told us that it was the best subdivision plan they’d seen in years,” said Comerchero. “This new strategy is a win for us as land owners and developers, and it’s a win for the counties and municipalities as well because these new subdivisions are more economically viable so they can be built and sold, which in turn helps the economy as a whole.”
He cautioned that development will still be on a “case-by-case” basis and that regulations are constantly changing.
“Environmental issues continue to play a huge role in development and the days of acquiring a negative declaration as opposed to an environmental impact report for larger projects are basically gone,” said Comerchero. “That’s why at the Rancon Group we work closely with environmental groups from a project’s inception to create a project that benefits everyone.”
Part of the Rancon Group strategy moving forward is to utilize a “Mitigated Negative Declaration” that allows a project to go through the entitlement process without an expensive Environmental Impact Report.
Mike O’Donnell, a longtime member of the Rancon Group Builder Developer Team, told the audience that the Rancon Group has a long history of working with environmental groups to help mitigate any concerns.
“We’ve been a leader in bringing people together to achieve common goals in the development of infrastructure,” said O’Donnell. “From the creation of Domenigoni Parkway to numerous water, sewer, flood control and park systems, we have been at the forefront of finding viable solutions to complex problems.”
Rancon Group Founder and Chairman Dan Stephenson added to O’Donnell’s statement saying that the Rancon Group takes a big picture approach realizing that ultimately individual projects and properties in a given area are all bound together, and successful solutions to development require all of the stakeholders working together.
“We learned early on that the key to creating successful, and sustainable, communities is by working with people like you, the land owners, as well as with fellow developers and all the various departments involved with entitlement to ensure that what is ultimately built in an area is beneficial to that area,” Stephenson told the group.
Comerchero had noted that “you can’t pave your way out of sprawl,” and that development in the future will require even more innovative land uses.
“We believe the next cycle for development has begun and if you’re a landowner with plans to develop your property, the time to start is now,” said Comerchero. “The entitlement process, the environmental hurdles, the infrastructure demands all take time. With our knowledge and expertise in the area, we can help streamline the process. The target window is opening and there’s no time like the present to get started.”