The Watchdog Newsletter
28 July 2000


The Board of Supervisors on 26 July 2000 followed the CAO’s of the Department of Planning & Land Use recommendation to direct the project applicant to revise the Jacumba Valley Ranch project, recirculate the EIR, and come back to the Board in about 8 months time. None of the recommended revisions to the project, such as adding medical facilities to the congregate care facility and expanding the equestrian facility, change the substance of a massive, misplaced, inappropriate project proposed for prime farmland in a remote area of East County.


Two proposed projects in Bonsall, Hill Ranch and The Grove, are being reviewed for time extensions for their tentative maps. Hill Ranch would subdivide 145 acres of productive citrus orchard into 38 dwelling units. The Grove would subdivide 293 acres of native hillside, sloping down towards the San Luis Rey River, into 85 dwelling units. Both projects are prime examples of ill-planned projects for San Diego County’s agricultural and open space lands that are allowed to occur because our county lacks the protections that would be afforded by an Agricultural Element for our General Plan.


Ramona is in a crisis caused by developers proposing to develop much of the remaining grasslands and grazing lands of Ramona. Most of these projects are located in Specific Planning Areas (SPAs). These SPAs would allow intensive, urban-style developments to occur in outlying areas far from existing services necessary for development. Proponents of these projects are anxious to receive vesting rights before GP 2020, the update of San Diego County’s General Plan, is adopted. GP 2020 would remove the SPA designation and require much larger lot size minimums, up to 160-acres, for any projects. Proposed projects in Ramona include:
MONTE VISTA RANCH – 4,223 acres with hundreds of dwelling units & hotel
CUMMING RANCH – 664 acres with 166 dwelling units.
HIGHLAND HILLS ESTATES – 569 acres with 100 dwelling units.
BARNETT RANCH – 648 acres with 187 dwelling units.
RANCH ESQUILAGO – 147 acres with 38 dwelling units.

Just these projects total over 6,000 acres and hundreds of dwelling units. The Ramona Community Planning Group is discussing asking the County for a moratorium for all subdivision projects until GP 2020 is adopted.


We would like to introduce SOFAR’s new Vice President Doug Bell by publishing his editorial on a suggested moratorium for land-use projects until GP 2020, the County’s draft General Plan update, is adopted.
"GP 2020, the County’s land use blueprint for the next twenty years, is due to be adopted by the Board of Supervisors soon. For the County this is another defining moment. Having failed once before to draft and implement a responsible (and legal) land use plan and by rejecting (and actually campaigning against) Proposition B, the Board of Supervisors now has a chance to earn the “smart growth” credentials it so publicly advertises by declaring an interim moratorium on all new development until GP 2020 is adopted.
The reasons why a moratorium is necessary are the hundreds of vested commercial and residential projects already in the planning pipeline that stand to be approved regardless of their non-conformity to the new plan. These projects, which will litter the backcountry with big box retail stores, supermarkets, strip malls, and housing tracts, are to smart growth what glassy-winged sharpshooters are to the local wine industry.
Their impact on our county’s natural and economic resources would be devastating. Responsible action, starting with a moratorium ordinance the supervisors are legally authorized to impose, is needed now to protect the county’s ability to accommodate recently approved development as it formulates strategies to address the caravan of county-wide problems that take turns in local headlines‹from sewage and pollution control to water and power distribution. With little wiggle room left, the Board of Supervisors might at last decide that the right thing to do is also the legal thing, and vice versa."
Doug Bell
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