See the guest column by Randy Lenac below…
It has been a nearly invisible process to most people in San Diego County, yet may ultimately have a tremendous impact on the right of the citizens to be safe in their knowledge that government can’t simply violate the basic tenet of private property rights. The decision will answer the question as to whether the County of San Diego is willing to completely ignore the will of the people in prior elections, or abide by that will.
The San Diego County Planning Commission is meeting tomorrow, Friday, April 16th at 9:00 a.m. to make its final recommendations on the General Plan Update before it goes to the Board of Supervisors. The commission will be grappling with the issue of proposed drastic downzoning and equity loss in the rural areas of San Diego County, meaning the loss of private property rights.
If you have any feelings at all about the significant socioeconomic impacts that the plan will have on our rural areas, your presence at this hearing is critical. Even if you have never been involved before, take the time to come down to 5201 Ruffin Road and have your voice heard on this important issue. The commissioners really want to do the right thing–they need your’re support in a situation where most citizens have no idea that the issue is even being discussed.
P.S. If you can’t attend the hearing, you may communicate with the Planning Commissioners by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
by Randy Lenac
President, Save Our Rural Economy
Your help is necessary to “save our rural economy” from an ill conceived downzoning scheme conceived by Duncan McFetridge and “Save Our Forests and Ranchlands” (SOFAR) that he has twice by ballot attempted and failed to foist upon the citizens of San Diego.
The voters of San Diego County know a bad thing when they see it and saw through this scheme and rejected it by large margins in 1998 and 2004. Now the same scheme is again being foisted upon us as the General Plan Update (GPU) and could be adopted by legislative fiat if we do not speak out loud and clear. The proposed GPU contains the same drastic 40, 80 and 160 acre downzoning that Mr. McFetridge proposed in Props B and A.
Tomorrow (Friday April 16th) at 9:00 a.m. the Planning Commission is scheduled to make determination on its final recommendation to the Board of Supervisors on the General Plan Update. The Downzoning/Equity issue, which has now become a front and center issue for the commission, will receive the most comment and attention. The down-zoning/equity mechanism issue, together with numerous other issues of critical importance, make Friday’s hearing very important.
This correspondence is a reminder and request for all stakeholders and citizens to attend and participate. Showing up and simply signing a speaker slip opposing the project will speak volumes at this hearing. We must provide a solid reason for these commissioners to do the right thing and send this plan back to staff for further work on the density/equity issue and other critical items. You would not buy a car with the promise that the engine will be provided next year. We should not accept a “half baked” general plan. Artificial deadlines are counterproductive when tryng to get a land use plan right for the next 30 to 40 years. The meeting is at DPLU on Ruffin Rd. Come early to get a seat.
A couple of years ago, when it became apparent that the County government was going full speed ahead with its drastic down-zoning scheme for the back country, a few local property owners, healthcare professionals, educators, and leaders of the Indian tribes came together to discuss how this would adversely affect our rural community and decided to form the organization S.O.R.E., which stands for Save Our Rural Economy.
Initially, S.O.R.E. asked the County to conduct an economic analysis of the affects that stripping all the equity from the rural lands would have on our rural communities and they essentially refused, stating that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) did not require them to consider the socioeconomic effects of their project. This answer did not set well with S.O.R.E. since we believed in our hearts that the legacy of this scheme would be a sad one for our schools, healthcare, community services, public safety and general socioeconomic condition. So we raised over $40,000.00 to pay for an independent analysis by a team of professors of economics from SDSU. The study showed that hundreds of millions of dollars in foregone revenue and economies of scale would result from this down-zoning scheme on our rural school districts, public safety and roads, alone. When you take into consideration the affects on devaluation of private property, the results will be staggering!
S.O.R.E. decided that this was too important to just let County government implement without a fight! We all believed that in a democracy it was critical for people to speak up against bad government and this was truly bad government at its worst. By the same token, we felt strongly that it was unproductive to just whine and complain without having some alternative that achieved the goal of environmental preservation without destroying our rural economy.
S.O.R.E. worked hard for almost a year to develop a conceptual alternative that preserves a reasonable amount of equity in the rural lands and at the same time provides an affordable pathway to the conservation of agriculture and open space. S.O.R.E.’s conceptual alternative has been vetted to many of the stakeholders in the County and it has been well received, because it is both fair and balanced. It essentially eliminates the hated 40/80 and 160 acre downzoning provisions that County voters have twice rejected in Prop B back in 1998 and Prop A in 2004. Voters know a bad deal when they see it and in this case the voters have seen it twice and summarily rejected these drastic densities. S.O.R.E.’s alternative returns a reasonable amount of density, but then offers these landowners the option to transfer their density through a transfer of development rights (TDR) program to areas where development is needed and can be supported by existing infrastructure. This is both a fair and smart way that many jurisdictions across our great Country and in other areas of California have used to voluntarily encourage development where it should be without violating property rights or destroying farmers and rural communities. We can find no other jurisdiction in the U.S. that is pursuing these riduculous 40, 80 and 160 acre zoning provisions.
S.O.R.E. has made a lot of progress in this fight. We have presented our alternative to the Planning Commission and all of the Supervisors. We are simply asking the County to take a step back from their arbitrary “Fall of 2010” deadline and add a reasonable and balanced alternative to the EIR process so that the Board of Supervisors will be able to consider it when that time comes. The current economy has surely provided a window of opportunity for this to happen.