For several decades, county officials, developers and environmentalists have been working on a plan to preserve habit across 290,000 acres of mostly rural North County while still allowing construction of new homes and businesses.
But as the long-delayed plan nears the finish line, environmentalists worry it’s being used to give a leg up to an unapproved and controversial housing development.
The developer Newland Communities wants to build a 2,100-unit housing development, called Newland Sierra, along Interstate 15 near San Marcos. Before it’s built, Newland’s project must be approved by either the County Board of Supervisors or voters.
It does not yet have such approval. That’s why environmentalists are wondering why the project appears along with a half dozen already approved projects in a March draft of the county’s Multi-Species Conservation Plan for the North County. The plan is supposed to save wildlife and habitat while also allowing for development.
In late April, a group of 16 San Diego environmental groups wrote a letter to Supervisor Dianne Jacob arguing that county staff is trying to help Newland by lumping it in with approved projects.
The plan draws lines around where developers can and can’t build projects in North County to preserve certain areas for wildlife and habitat. It wouldn’t determine what can be built in specific areas, but it could determine areas where nothing can be built.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
A leg up? Of course! This project, like Lilac Hills Ranch, is yet another General Plan Buster being enabled by the serial underminer of the approved County General Plan disguised as a "planning" director. The master of fake planning has emptied the department of its former expertise and forthrightness, gutted the once-excellent County training program for Community Planning Group members and evidently is instructing his all-new crew to ignore community input that challenges the Orwellian logic the department applies to justify its astonishing recommendations for approval. For instance, the current regime is arguing that a gas station and a convenience store on a freeway qualifies as a "Village" ... and so Newland Sierra's proposal for 2100 houses on mountainside behind the gas station is just a little bitty village expansion.
If these reports and their tortured language were not thousands of pages long, everyone would know how ludicrous they are.
The County General Plan is a GOOD PLAN. It designates thousands of acres for housing in Village areas where infrastructure, services and amenities are already in place. Remember, General Plan Amendments such as the ones proposed by the developers of Newland Sierra and Lilac Hills (which 60% of the voters turned down in November,!) are LAND ENTITLEMENTS -- not housing. These political actions are less about providing housing and more about making buckets of dough on political zoning changes.
But pushing urban islands in rural areas is just the half of it. Using Valley Center as an example, the County planning department is undermining the County's entire plan for development and conservation also by supporting suburban-style single family housing in Village areas where the General Plan asks for a healthy diversity of housing types to accommodate, singles, young marrieds, families, AND empty nesters.
In short, in North County the so-called planning department is entirely ignoring the public plan it is supposed to enforce. Why?
Ask your County Supervisor.
The article mentions that a letter was written to Supervisor Dianne Jacob. However, it doesn't say whether she replied and, if she did, what her reply was.
It seems dishonest to include Newland on a list of approved projects when it hasn't yet been approved. Does anyone know if there has been any response at all from elected representatives in regards why?
“I would challenge the authenticity of fighting a project in the context of the 290,000 acres,”
The environment dies by the death of millions of cuts. Cuts like this development are important because the building is in an environmentally sensitive area. But this is just part of the story. This development is in a high risk area for wildfires and the roads that serve it are inadequate for the population planned for it. Not marginally inadequate but extremely so. I invite anyone who doubts that to to there, look at the terrain and drive those roads.
I think Newland should have done their research on the cheap land they bought on a whim....Merriam Mountain is not just any other mountain range. It is ONLY ONE OF TWO REMAINING LARGE BLOCKS OF NATURAL HABITAT LEFT West of I-15! Newlands proposed housing project will have SIGNIFICANT Impacts on Merriam Mountains water, wildlife, scenic views and ridgelines, not to mention traffic, air quality and way of life for the residents of Twin Oaks Valley and beyond. Today, it is hard to distinguish between who exactly the San Diego county Supervisors represent....The residents of San Diego seem to have taken a back seat to the real estate developers the county is undoubtedly enabling.