|The Watchdog Newsletter
19 September 2001
GPA 96-03 UPDATE
The Board of Supervisors quietly rescinded GPA 96-03 on September 18 as a consent item on the day's agenda. Prior to the meeting, they removed from their resolution language objectionable to SOFAR's attorneys. Our attorneys had objected to a clause in the original resolution that would have reinstated the original illegal zoning.
We decided, in light of current events that a press conference could be held at a later time.
Perhaps when an action item comes up on the new EIR for 96-03. As we mentioned in an earlier Watchdog, the County is rushing forward with a new EIR on virtually the same project that failed so miserably to meet factual and legal standards. Perhaps their behavior recalls Aristotle's observation in the Topics where he pointed out that not all problems can be solved by rational persuasion; for example if you don't believe that snow is white you don't need rational persuasion you need a pair of glasses.
Final comments on the new EIR are due September 24. We have our full professional team working on this latest disaster in the making.
There will be a Star Party at Mt. Laguna Observatory on October 27,2001
Save Our Forest And Ranchlands
For Release: Tuesday, September 18, 2001
County Drops Appeal of Landmark Court Decision Regarding 200,000 acres in San Diego Backcountry
Board of Supervisors meets to rescind GPA 96-03 today, September 18, 2001
In dramatic confirmation of a recent finding by the Public Policy Institute of California linking corruption in
government with a failure to solve regional growth problems, the County of San Diego has called an end to its five-year campaign to illegally rezone 191,000 acres of rural lands in San Diego's backcountry. Attorney's for the County notified representatives for Save Our Forest And Ranchlands (SOFAR) that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors has decided to abandon its legal challenge to a Superior Court order issued last August which found the County's General Plan Amendment (GPA) 96-03 in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The case took on statewide and national attention when it drew the interest of the Attorney General of the State of California and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In commenting on the County's action, the EPA stated that "the anticipated development will impact the quality and quantity of the regions drinking water supply." The Attorney General took the unusual step of filing an amicus brief in support of SOFAR stating that "The potential clearing and grading of vast amounts of natural habitat in San Diego County without any further environmental review will impair or destroy the state's biological resources, damaging habitats utilized by numerous sensitive plant and animal species."
The County's decision to drop the appeal is clear and unprecedented admission of wrongdoing which cost county taxpayers $2 million and creates, in the midst of critical, long-range planning efforts like the County's 2020 General Plan Update and a new regional governance plan, a giant credibility gap for the Board of Supervisors and the County Planning Department. Underlining the significance of this case is the fact that the Superior Court in its original ruling in 1996 placed a subdivision moratorium on the affected lands, removing all permitting authority from the County and designating SOFAR as interim land use authority. SOFAR has held this position for five years.
Joining SOFAR in friends of the court briefs were the California Attorney General's office, San Diego Sierra Club, San Diego Audubon Society, California Native Plant Society, Center for Biological Diversity, Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Bay Keeper, California Oaks Foundation, Environmental Health Coalition, and the Mountain Defense League.
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