History of San Diego County's Rural Planning Failure

SOFAR's actions are predicated on the evidence that San Diego County legislators have repeatedly failed to plan for resource protection. A brief synopsis of the more significant ruptures in leadership follow here. At the bottom of the list are examples of two Citizen Initiatives to correct County Failures.

1965- Williamson Act Legislation

What it is: This beneficial Act provides for the establishment of agricultural preserves to grant tax breaks for agricultural uses.
County Failure: Residential underlay zoning has produced exactly the opposite of the Williamson Act intent making the public subsidize future development and causing the loss of thousands of acres of agricultural land.
Estimated Planning Cost: $50,000.

1973- Open Space Element

What it is: State-required General Plan Element that identifies and protects productive open space lands.

1973- Draft Open Space Element

What it is: Recommended 25-acre rural zoning.
County Failure: Not adopted. Open space lands do not have State-required zoning nor co-equal status with other land uses.
Estimated Planning Cost: $ 100,000.

1973- Supervisor Jack Walsh Letter

Documenting that Open Space Committee was packed with special interest.

1973- Proposed Large-Lot Zoning

What it is: Proposed zoning ordinance amendment to provide
for larger minimum lot sizes in the agricultural and limited control zones.
County Failure: Result: not adopted.
Cost: $20,000.

1975- Conservation Element

What it is: State-required General Plan Element to identify and
protect all community, cultural, geographical, and natural resources.
County Failure: Result: enactment of Resource Conservation Areas with no regulatory power.
Cost: $100,000.

1978- Land Use Element

What it is: State-required General Plan Element.
County Failure: no rural densities but required as mitigation the
adoption of an agricultural element.
Cost: $200,000.

1979- Draft Agricultural Element

What it is: An exhaustive economic and land-use study; affected 750 square miles of rural lands; and was two years in the making.
County Failure: Not adopted.
Cost: $500,000.

1980- Rural Community Plan Updates

What it is: Ten rural community plans were up-dated with
accompanying EIRs.
County Failure: Still no rural zoning.
Cost: $1,500,000.

1981- Central Mountain Plan Update

What it is: County initiates GPA 91-02, the Central Mountain Plan update, planning for the heart of the forest lands.
County Failure: legal challenge, and court-ordered moratorium and processing of new plan.
Cost: $1,000,000.

1982- Multi-Species Conservation Plan

What it is: Mitigation plan to protect 85 endangered species.
Developer-driven plan with little scientific base. Plan is acquisition-based with public slated to pick up most of the cost. Sprawl continues unchecked.
Without rural zoning, cost to American taxpayers would be exorbitant.
County Failure: Plan adopted in late1997.
Planning Cost to City and County: $4,000,000 plus.
Acquisition Cost could be $1 billion or more.

1993- GPA 94-01

What it is: Proposed urban limit line and rural zoning general plan amendment.
County Failure: Legal challenge and court-ordered moratorium.
Cost: $100,000.

1994- Rural Task Force

What it is: Group to tackle issues facing County's rural lands.
County Failure: no actions adopted.
Cost: $32,000.

1995- AG 20 Lawsuit

What it is: SOFAR's successful legal challenge of County's
urban Zoning on agricultural preserve farmlands.
County Failure: Court-ordered moratorium. County required to bring its General Plan into compliance with State law. Mandated adoption of Agricultural Element.
Cost: $100,000.

1996- GPA 96-03

What it is: County's response to court order to properly protect
agricultural preserve farmlands. Will control fate of almost 200,000 acres of Country's backcountry farmland. Will also impact additional 500,000 acres
of agricultural land to be covered by Agricultural Element.
County Failure: Planning Commission hearing scheduled for January 21, 2000.
Estimated Cost: $100,000

1998- General Plan 2020.

What it is: Update of County's General Plan. Could take 3 years. County population expected to grow by 1 million residents by 2020. Plan will determine how that future growth will be absorbed and distributed in
the unincorporated.
County Failure: Too little, too late.
Estimated Cost: $3 million.

Cost of rural planning failure by County of San Diego OVER 11 MILLION DOLLARS.


1992- Forest Conservation Plan (Successful Initiative)

What it is: Qualified with 110,000 signatures. Plan to save the forest with 40-acre large-lot zoning.
County Failure: Inappropriate zoning forced citizen's group to amend
Forest Plan.
Cost: Virtually no cost to taxpayers.

1997- Proposition B ­ Rural Heritage & Watershed Initiative (Unsuccessful)

What it is: A land-use measure that would amend the General Plan to prevent urban development from County's rural lands. Would implement County's own growth management plan.
County Failure: Special interests and the Farm Bureau teamed up with the Country to defeat citizen's initiative. Evidence County officials illegally campaigned against Prop B.
Cost: Virtually no cost to taxpayers.
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