General Plan 2020

San Diego County General Plan 2020

As San Diego County’s General Plan Update takes shape, San Diego County's Board of Supervisors has an obligation to accommodate population growth and influence its distribution in order to protect and use scarce resources wisely; preserve the natural environment; and promote the economic and social welfare of the region. These laudable goals are nothing new. They are part of San Diego County’s existing General Plan, adopted in 1979. What is new is an attempt by county planners and their allies in the private sector to move away from the goals and policies established in the old plan (based on regional resource categories) toward adoption of an entirely new set of goals and planning criteria based on population density, which will erase urban limit lines and “country-town” growth boundaries, putting the protection of “scarce resources” and the “rural character” of the backcountry in serious doubt.

It’s important that the board recognizes that the goals and policies of the original plan need no improvement. Rather, it’s their responsible implementation that should be the central concern of the county’s update effort.

Regrettably, the county is allowing misinformation about the current plan to undermine the planning process. Many people apparently believe that the county now favors a planned reduction in population density for the unincorporated areas of the county from approximately 855,000, when in fact the 855,000 is a rogue figure from an earlier and invalid county proposal, not from the current plan. Nonetheless, the density deception has shifted the public focus away from regional resource categories toward density-based goals and policies.

In our view, the county must not abandon the sensible goals and policies approved (and legally adopted) twenty years ago for the "economic and social welfare of our region." Twice the county has tried to cater to special economic interests in its efforts to rezone almost 200,000 acres of backcountry agricultural, watershed and ranchlands in its GPA 96-03 amendment, and twice a judge has rejected its feeble (and unlawful) product.

It's time for the supervisors to find the courage to put the interests and welfare of county residents before the economic self-interest of absentee landowners, investment trusts, and developers by rejecting population-based planning. Regional, resource-based planning, with clearly defined urban growth boundaries and commensurate zoning, is the key to a sustainable future that lives up to the goals of the original plan and gives the supervisors a true claim to public service.

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