San Diego County voters are facing a number of important choices this November. From president on down, the future of our nation, state and local community seems to be hanging in the balance in this election.

At the local level, San Diego County’s Measure B stands out as a particularly bad deal. Whether you are passionate about stopping climate change or preventing unnecessary public spending, voting no on Measure B should be a no-brainer.

Measure B would allow a private developer to set its own terms for building a town the size of Del Mar in the middle of agricultural land. Lilac Hills Ranch would consist of more than 1,700 homes and 90,000 square feet of retail space on land that is zoned for 110 homes and farming.

Lilac Hills Ranch is a poster child for the worst kind of sprawl development. The land has no existing infrastructure to support a community of this scale; sewer, fire and police, and other basic services would need to be extended (the majority of which will be ultimately paid for by taxpayers) to support growth on this scale.

While the developer is peddling a vision that paints Lilac Hills Ranch as a sustainable development, nothing could be further from the truth.

Lilac Hills Ranch would make our freeways more congested. Future residents would face significant car commutes to work or school because of its remote location. Five-thousand people will be left to wind through miles of narrow country roads before reaching a major thoroughfare to take them to jobs, errands or places of worship.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

The county estimates that Lilac Hills Ranch would contribute significantly to regional gridlock, ultimately requiring more than $1 billion in freeway and road improvements. Measure B only requires the developer to contribute $5 million toward its fair share – leaving taxpayers to cover the rest.

Bad Project, Bad Process

An independent report drafted by San Diego County showed that Measure B would leave the majority of required road and public safety improvements to county taxpayers. That conclusion should be no surprise to anyone who has been following the sordid tale of this proposed development, which has been in the works for more than a decade.

The developer sought endorsement for Lilac Hills Ranch from the Planning Commission and intended to pursue approval from the Board of Supervisors. Those approvals were required because Lilac Hills Ranch goes directly against the county’s $18 million general plan and therefore required a general plan amendment.

The Planning Commission offered tentative approval for the proposal, but under a series of conditions that would have limited its environmental and public safety impacts. When it became clear that the Board of Supervisors would not approve the project under these conditions – in no small part because Supervisor Bill Horn had a conflict of interest and was forced to recuse himself from the vote – the developer pulled the application and decided to try its luck with voters instead.

Where the Planning Commission required significant upgrades to local roads to improve traffic flow and safety, Measure B cuts corners on exactly what standard those roads should meet. And while the Planning Commission required the developer to meet county requirements for emergency and fire response times, Measure B bakes an exception into those rules just for Lilac Hills Ranch, allowing response times to almost double for future residents.

These variations between Measure B and the Planning Commission’s approved version of Lilac Hills Ranch mean that taxpayers would be left to make up for developer shortfalls on investments in traffic and safety. This measure essentially blesses the insidious process where developers buy land cheap and then beg, borrow and steal to maximize profits, public impacts be damned.

Land use approvals at the ballot box mean that the developer gets to write its own ticket. Under Measure B, Lilac Hills Ranch can be built without any further environmental review, and with no opportunity for appeal. If voters approve Measure B, they are sending a troublesome message to deep-pocketed developers: With enough money, you can build anything anywhere.

As voters head to the ballot box, here are some key facts to keep in mind. Lilac Hills Ranch is far from transit, jobs and services and is therefore projected to add 19,000 more car trips to county roads and freeways every day. This type of leapfrog development is explicitly avoided in the county’s general plan and is completely unnecessary to meet demand for new housing. Land is already zoned to accommodate more than 70,000 new homes in the unincorporated parts of the county. Developers that buy land zoned for housing can build quickly without pursuing these types of extraordinary approvals from voters.

San Diego voters should make it clear once and for all this November that we will not allow corrupt projects like Lilac Hills Ranch swindle voters through glossy campaign ads. We should send a signal that housing belongs near existing housing and services, not in the middle of precious farmland. And we should make it clear that we are looking for more investment in transit and affordable housing, not houses that will cost more than half a million dollars and cater only to the well-to-do.

San Diegans should soundly defeat Measure B.

James Gordon and Mark Jackson are members of Citizens and Taxpayers Against Lilac Hills Ranch Measure B.

    This article relates to: 2016 Elections, Lilac Hills Ranch, Opinion

    Written by Opinion

    Op-eds and Letters to the Editor on the issues that matter in San Diego. Have something to say? Submit a commentary.

    chimichanga subscriber

    While Measure B should be defeated to stop the development in North County, we South Bay voters need to STOP PROPERTY TAX AND RENT INCREASES by voting NO on Proposition Z. Southwestern College is once again asking for a $400 MILLION hand-out that they do not deserve. Through prior bond measures they have demonstrated they cannot be trusted with public funds. Keep the cost of housing from rising from one end of SD County to the other by voting NO on B and Z!!

    Janet Shelton
    Janet Shelton subscriber

    One problem with putting that development out there is that developers are going to profit on it, people are going to pay a lower price to be out there, and then taxpayers are going to get the bills for infrastructure development.  And then there is the wildfire risk, and the difficulty of evacuation.  If you think this is such a great idea, go out and drive the roads 5,000 people are going to use and imagine what they will be like during rush hour or an evacuation.  I am 100% sure there are going to be a high rate of traffic deaths on those roads.

    And then there's the issue that if this is put in, we could have a parade of back country developments.  There are a huge number of issues with this, which I could list, but that information is out there for your review.

    Founder subscriber

    San Diego residents are now getting slammed with Big Density and it going to get much worse.

    Very soon we will be another Orange County or even LA as our elected Leaders continue to support what is becoming un-restricted Growth, all in the name of (pick one or more) providing "affordable" (aka market rate) housing, reducing "Climate Change" or saving Energy and water (so that ever more can move here and make things even worse for everyone).

    San Diego voters are going to get to vote (again) for the least worst candidate (instead of the best person to do the job) and many other propositions that have been written by special interests groups financed by Big Money interests that have made a mockery of our election process!

    Imagine if a candidate stood up and said that they would only support no public stadium money, slow growth spread evenly throughout SD, preserving neighborhoods first and ordinances that doubled the required amount of rent long term restricted Low and Low Moderate housing that must be built as part of every new development in San Diego, then San Diego might have a chance of remaining Americas Finest City instead of becoming another "suburb" of an expanding LA...

    Don't worry about that happening any time soon because big money interests (like Developers and sport team owners) would spend/donate heavily (and use their control of MSM) to prevent that from happening, since they cannot afford to loose their Real Estate golden goose (which is buy low, build higher Density and then rent/lease rather than sell) as San Diego's cost of living starts to skyrocket again!

    craig Nelson
    craig Nelson

    I'm starting a go-fund-me account to send the authors to a grade school economics course. They want more affordable housing but are against more supply and against construction in areas where its cheaper to build. It's because of pawns like these two that housing in San Diego will continue to soar - the cost of government approval spirals higher and higher - great if you own a house already, tough beans if you are just starting out. Lack of supply coupled with the increasing cost of any new housing will push rents and home prices ever upward. YES ON B. 

    Greg Martin
    Greg Martin subscriber

    @craig Nelson A better measure of affordability considers housing plus transportation costs.  The more urbanized areas of San Diego fare far better by that measure because there are more transportation options than in the more auto-dependent parts of the county.,-117.0008255004883,32.73000234696766,11,cbsa,&mapL=104,-117.0008255004883,32.73000234696766,11,cbsa,

    If we are concerned about overall affordability, we should be building more housing in the areas with greater transportation options, not in the areas where one is forced to drive due to the lack of any other transportation options. 

    craig Nelson
    craig Nelson

    @Greg Martin @craig Nelson Sure , great in theory except all of the mixed use in fill projects get protested and voted down as well (Carmel Valley , Del Mar, Solana Beach) .  

    Between the NIMBYs and the Government , costs will continue to skyrocket and only the existing property owners will benefit while home prices and rents climb ever higher (and those that cause it will have symposiums and hold hands). 

    Joe Jones
    Joe Jones subscriber

    How terrible...trusting the voters to make a decision. As for the absurd proposition that rejection of B will "keep the country country," please. The region is growing, and nothing--repeat, nothing--will stop it. That land will ultimately be housing, and the progressive fantasists who comprise the core VOSD readership will rue that resulting hodge podge infinitely more than Lilac Hills.

    Demi Mirr
    Demi Mirr

    There is very little mentioned about the Old Highway 395, The Rainbow Bridge and the Old Highway 395 Bridge

    From Hwy. 76 or 15 South the residents of this development will be traveling up a very steep narrow road, an old Historic Road once back in the days known as "Slaughter Alley" This road can not be turned into 4 lanes, Steep mountains to the West, steeper drop-off to the east.also from that direction accessing the development you would have to travel over the very majestic Rainbow Bridge, also 2 lanes and very little chance or widening , the cost would be exorbitant and put on to the taxpayer. Heading in the other direction south on the Old Highway 395, a public road in very bad disrepair, steep and narrow with streets coming off of the old Highway and the Bridge which is also in need of widening.... Lots of money to be spent on public roads,if  not improved; will be dangerous, due to the lack of space, the grade and conditions of the roads. Also the Palomar Observatory ask that people in the nearby area( which includes Bonsall and Valley Center) try to maintain the minimum of light pollution for better observance of the night time skies .

    Accreatives  end run around the Department of Development and Land Use is a slap in the face to the taxpayers in all of San Diego County, as over 8 million dollars  has been spent in developing the current plan for the county to follow. Disregard for enviornment and safety issues..... I just watched a commercial on TV saying that Yes on B will provide better housing for ALL of San Diego........ thatis  just a lie

    Build the 110 homes and let it be

    I do appreciate the article and it is appropriately titled.... Measure B is is Bad for San Diego County and set bad precedent  accountability of our 

    Toasterific subscriber

    Keep the country country.

    chimichanga subscriber

    I'm curious to know why Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas is such a strong proponent of Measure B. She's on TV ads promoting it and elsewhere talking it up. Why does she care about promoting "affordable housing" in an area of SD County more than 40 miles away?? 

    What's in it for her? Is there a backroom deal going on? Is anyone sniffing around for a smoking gun across SD County? Cross-County quid pro quo??

    I'm unimpressed by her support for this measure. It seems it could be causing folks NOT to look at Chula Vista as a place to live, although there are still many vacant homes in THIS part of SD County, due to the historic downturn in the housing market (burst of the housing bubble).

    What's going on, Mary? There's something about Mary...and I'm not sure I like it.

    Sean M
    Sean M subscriber

    Heaven forbid people pay to live in an unaffordable community and go where they want, without the majority of the community's approval.

    If it's as bad as the author says, nobody would want to live there and the houses will sit vacant

    The editorial seems to assume that those who would move there don't drive to work and worship from where they live now, I highly doubt they take the bus.