Gambling on Sprawl—Big Box Grocers bet on the Backcountry

Testament to the fact that one cannot let down the guard against sprawl and the establishment that, literally, paves the way for it, the backcountry is faced with a new challenge against projects that are laying a bet on the proven record of County officials to approve inappropriate development in rural areas. In what threatens to become the I-15 of East County, County officials are laying the foundation for a massive expansion of metropolitan San Diego into the backcountry.

Along the I-8 corridor, two chain-market retailers are moving forward with plans to build large grocery complexes in Lakeside and Alpine. These projects are not whimsical dreams of smalltime operators, however. They are carefully calculated decisions made in expectation of the future growth in demand in east county. Market studies (pardon the pun) show that the communities in which these are being built cannot support the capacities of the projects.

These corporate powerhouses are betting on the proclivity of our land use department to continue to approve sprawl-inducing projects and they’ll be in the perfect position to profit from it. The odds are obviously in their favor, look what happened between Mira Mesa and Escondido. Las Vegas, or Viejas for that matter, couldn’t give better odds.

Projects such as these not only change the face of rural areas but have enormously devastating impacts on the character of the communities. Increasingly, the costs associated with development outweigh the perceived benefits of bringing conveniences to remote areas. Small business owners are often wiped out by the invasion of corporate stores who can afford to sell under priced goods until they dominate the marketplace; land, valued for its natural and aesthetic qualities, or its generational ties to a family, becomes cheapened as a speculative commodity; traffic and noise pollution degrade the quality of life as development permeates the surrounding area and the thoroughfares of the community.

So how can the tide be stopped? What can be done?

SOFAR has teamed up with three other local groups formed in opposition to the project, Lakeside Preservation Coalition, Citizens For The Preservation Of Alpine, and East County Trails Preservation Association. We’re actively protesting these developments as well as the County’s predisposition to approve projects like them that lead to the destruction of rural communities by soliciting public support against the two granddaddies of these schemes, Albertson’s and Ralph’s.

Help us to battle these giants with a contribution to our campaign against the Gamble on Sprawl. With your help, we can continue the fight to save the backcountry by getting the message out to east county communities, and hiring consultants to write professional comments on the projects.

The risk is real, we can’t afford to hope for the best and wait and see what happens. Please help today.

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