The Watchdog Newsletter
15 May 2002


On the advise of our attorney's, SOFAR is settling the lawsuit over GPA 01-01. Having won this lawsuit three times over and causing substantial improvements in the County's environmental review of this project, we have pushed this particular CEQA litigation to it's ultimate limit in affecting any further policy change from what the San Diego Union-Tribune called a "Derelict Board." We remain in fundamental disagreement over the County's zoning policy on these lands and on their method of analysis. However, CEQA is no longer the arena in which to challenge these actions by the Planning Department and the Board of Supervisors.
In the battle over GPA 01-01, we have accomplished three fundamental changes; a grading ordinance that requires environmental review before any clearing of the land, a minimum lot size increase on affected lands, and perhaps most important, the County has been forced to finally admit the truth that the real nature of this project concerns residential use, not simply farming. Six years ago, at the beginning of GPA 01-01, the County assumed that 100% of the land would be used for farming, and now, after loosing three times in court the County is finally admitting that less than 3% of the land will actually be used for intensive agriculture.
We argued this case from a basis of fact and law. In the conclusions that we drew from this base and upon which we filed each successful lawsuit, we were joined by other independent parties who drew the same conclusions; the Environmental Protection Agency, the California State Attorney General, scientists, economists, planning professionals, and numerous environmental groups. The San Diego Union-Tribune voiced similar outrage about the "Derelict Board's" land use planning failures. And, of course, the Superior Court agreed with SOFAR's position on the law. The County, on the other hand, teamed up in court with the Building Industry, the Farm Bureau, and the Pacific Legal Foundation (a private property advocacy group) to argue one and only one cause; to preserve development potential of the last of San Diego's resource rich lands.
This has been a momentous struggle over the future of San Diego County. We are indebted to our supporters for helping us to gain the victories that we have won because with each victory we have gained ground in both the political and environmental arena, while the Board of Supervisors keep loosing credibility as stewards of our land resources. As a result of these efforts, we are now better prepared to meet the next battle that looms just over the horizon.
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