North County Report: The Pitchforks Are Out Over North River Farms - Voice of San Diego

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North County Report: The Pitchforks Are Out Over North River Farms

The Oceanside City Council’s November approval of the North River Farms development has spurred a movement to reverse the decision at the ballot box and to recall a councilman who supported it.

A rendering of North River Farms / Image courtesy of Integral Communities

Residents in Oceanside are collecting signatures in hopes of overturning the City Council’s November approval of North River Farms, a controversial 585-home development in Morro Hills.

Integral Communities, the project’s developer, says it will have 68 acres designated for agriculture and 17 acres for parks and open space. A majority of the Council members and proponents of the project say it’s needed to increase housing in the city.

But opponents say the development would cause the loss of more than 150 acres of farmland, and would increase urban sprawl.

On Nov. 20, residents upset by Oceanside City Councilman Christopher Rodriguez’s support for the project served him with a notice of their intent to gather signatures for a recall. The notice said that he has a potential conflict of interest because he owns property in Morro Hills, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. (City Attorney John Mullen said at a recent Council meeting that it’s not a conflict of interest because that property is 1,000 feet from the site.) It also says the development will cause traffic congestion and create evacuation concerns.

The San Diego Reader reported in July that Rodriguez asked for support for the project on his Facebook page. Community members said it was wrong for Rodriguez to not only reveal his stance on the project before it had come before the Council but to actually rally support for it.

On Dec. 6, Preserve Calavera, a nonprofit organization, filed a lawsuit challenging the Council’s approval, citing its impact on the environment and public safety, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The project “epitomizes the kind of old thinking about sprawl development and is exactly the opposite of what our region needs to be doing to protect our natural resources, preserve community character and help move our world toward climate stabilization,” the group wrote on its website.

If residents gather enough signatures by the Dec. 20 deadline, the project would go before Oceanside voters next year.

Integral Communities project manager Ninia Hammond called opposition to the project “anti-growth sentiment” in an email to VOSD.

“These days, any residential project is going to attract opposition from those who don’t see the value of diverse housing and forward planning,” Hammond wrote. “We are not surprised by anti-growth sentiment and remain focused on developing a community that provides a holistic life to the neighbors, farms and diverse community members who will call us home.”

The Water’s Back on in Poway, But Questions Remain

On Tuesday, representatives from water districts across North County came together to blame Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and the city for its handling of a recent water boil advisory put in place after residents discovered discolored tap water. They allege that Vaus urged citizens to drink contaminated water prior to testing results, according to a press release.

The initial advisory was made on Nov. 30. The state’s Water Resources Control Board lifted the warning on Dec. 6.

Now community members and regional leaders have questions: Did the city handle the situation properly?

City officials said the discolored water was a result of stormwater that got into the city’s water delivery system,10News reported.

The Poway Unified School District sent parents an email about its water action plan, which included covering up water fountains and increasing its supply of water bottles for students and staff.

The state’s Water Resources Control Board lifted the warning on Dec. 6. Now, some Poway businesses are struggling to make up for the financial losses they suffered during the ordeal, 10News reports.

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