The Watchdog Newsletter
18 July 2003


Thank you for all of your contributions to SOFAR's annual fund drive. The response to our appeal has been running very strong. This is a critical time for regional planning issues as confirmed by the latest San Diego poll showing that housing, traffic and beach pollution are the public's top concerns. With your help, SOFAR will continue to insist that a regional Urban Growth Boundary is the only realistic way to plan for a sustainable future and to combat the thousands of sprawl projects that keep undermining all of our planning efforts. We will keep you posted on our progress!


Residents of Pine Valley, a rural area bordered on four sides by the Cleveland National Forest in eastern San Diego County, were appalled recently to learn of AT&T’s proposal to build a fiber optic amplification facility in the heart of their rustic residential neighborhood. The proposed project, which would involve the construction of a substantial structure posing the threat of a noise nuisance, was clearly at odds with County General Plan policies governing “one of the most scenic areas in the County.” Having lost the first administrative round, local residents turned to Save Our Forest & Ranchlands for help.
We were able to retain the law firm of Shute, Mihaly, & Weinberger in San Francisco who argued not only that the large and noisy facility would violate the County General Plan, but also that it plainly did not fit within the zoning policies governing the area. Supportive of AT&T’s proposal, County staff had claimed that the project was an allowable “civic support facility for the local populace,” and suggested that it was “strongly vested with public or social importance.” The firm was able to demonstrate that the amplification station would not serve Pine Valley’s residents and visitors, but rather would provide high-speed data transmission services to AT&T network service customers outside of the area. Far from a civic use, the proposed facility was simply a commercial enterprise benefiting AT&T shareholders and customers.
On March 21, 2002, a phalanx of AT&T lawyers and other consultants appeared at the San Diego County Board of Appeal, ready to walk away with the necessary permit. It was not to be. By unanimous vote, the Commission concluded that the Pine Valley neighborhood was not the best site for a noisy generator, and granted the SOFAR appeal.
Sound land use planning carried the day, but the dust had hardly settled when the County announced a scheme to have the AT&T project move into an unused restaurant building next to the site just rejected by the Commissioners. Stay tuned…


As many of you already know, SOFAR is currently engaged in a highly publicized battle with a proposed Albertson's project in Alpine. The Alpine Planning Group has approved Albertson's Environmental Impact Report, so the next step in this project will be at the San Diego Planning Commission in approximately two to three months.
The Lakeside Ralph's supermarket strip-mall project EIR is due to be released this month and we are gearing up to oppose it.
The Ralph's project is connected with the adjacent 200 home subdivision proposed on 600 acres of prime avocado groves (see photos on our website
We will keep you informed as these battles develop!


Due to Ballpark redevelopment, SOFAR is looking for a new affordable office space. If any of our supporters have creative ideas, please let us know. We need to relocate as soon as possible!


SOFAR has begun updating our website by including photographs of project sites around the County. Please take a look and please help us by sending photographs of project sites in your community. Our goal is to build a photographic archive of what kinds of natural and agricultural resources are being destroyed and developed.
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