Valley Center, CA
June 5, 2023
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Mostly cloudy

County readies to disrespect the voters—big time

Anyone who knows me knows I generally turn up my nose at conspiracy theories. But there is something going on at the County’s planning department that is worthy of the word “conspiracy,” one that involves the ultimate disrespecting of the voters.

Unless I’m missing something, it also has the unspoken complicity of the lame duck members of the Board of Supervisors who will exit the board at the end of 2018.    Something this big could not be carried forward by the staff of County Planning and Development Services without their knowledge and tacit approval. 

Fortunately, we don’t need to look for proof of this conspiracy, all we have to do is watch and listen to this video:

That’s Mark Wardlaw, director of the department. The scheme is nothing less than pulling the rug out from under the voters of San Diego county before they can vote on a matter of land use that is worth billions of dollars. 

Earlier this month I ran an April Fool’s article that predicted the County was preparing to pass a bunch of general plan amendments before the voters could gather enough signatures to qualify the Safeguard Our San Diego Countryside (SOS) Initiative for the November ballot.

That was a joke.  Ha ha! From my clown face to God’s ear! The joke was on me. 

As Mark Wardlaw, the director of the department explained recently to the Planning Commission, state law limits the number of General Plan Amendments that can be passed in a calendar year to four. It so happens that this year there are quite a few General Plan Amendments in the pipeline, including the Lilac Hills Ranch reboot and Newland Sierra.

Rather than simply process each General Plan Amendment in its turn, Wardlaw has proposed “bundling” them so they can be voted on all at once. Thus, eight or nine developments can be approved in one year.

Now, why would the County want to do that? Why, for instance, shouldn’t Lilac Hills Ranch—which tried to jump ahead of all of the other developments by use of the initiative process two years ago—not be forced to  the end of the line and be voted on after everyone else?  I’m a process person. I’m less interested in whether a development is approved or how many units it has than how it got there. Rewarding arrogance violates my sense of justice. 

What’s the hurry? Well, the hurry is that several supervisors will be termed out at the end of this year, and this process allows them to approve these General Plan Amendments before they leave office. This way none of the incoming supervisors will be tarred with the brush of having not only ignored but acted in total contempt for the will of the voters, who by a margin of 66% two years ago turned thumbs down on Lilac Hills Ranch. 

Another way of looking at it is that it allows the incumbents to slip these developments under the door before any no growth or slow growth candidates can take office. 

Yes, we know, LHR is a “reboot” as the new developer, Ranch Capital, informs us. So like I said earlier, it should go to the back of the line!

I’m less concerned about circumventing possible supervisors like Jacqueline Arsivaud or Michelle Gomez than I am about contemptuously flicking aside the voters themselves—like lint. To me, scheduling a vote on a “bundle” of developments to slip them in before the voters approve or disapprove of the initiative that would make that sort of thing impossible is the ultimate sign of disrespect. It says to the voters, “Go ‘way, you bother me!”

Putting it before the board months if not weeks before the people may be voting on whether to take this power away from the board is neither, illegal, immoral or fattening, but it is despicable. It is also corrupt. 

It is the County’s “deep state” thumbing its nose at the people who pays its salary.

Members of this SOS group are actively collecting signatures. I don’t doubt they will gather enough to put the measure before the voters. I’ll wager better than even money the voters of San Diego County will approve of it. Our county is remarkably anti-developer considering how many people live in homes that were built by developers—but there is no accounting for hypocrisy. 

I’m not a member of that group, and I’m not especially sympathetic to their goal of removing a major portion of the board’s power and influence and handing it to the people. Making the voters, not the supervisors, the final arbiter in the matter of land use. 

I’m a believer in representative democracy, not direct democracy. I won’t be signing one of the petitions and I’ll doubt that I’ll vote for the measure.

However, I’m even less sympathetic to some old pols, term-limited out of office, who nevertheless insist upon one final attempt to affix a dead man’s hand onto the future of San Diego’s undeveloped land. 

I’m equally contemptuous of a County warhorse like Wardlaw shepherding through this huge bundle of development, and then retiring into obscurity and prosperity as a land consultant wise in the ways of San Diego’s labyrinthine regulations.  How do I know he will do this? I don’t. But it’s the way to bet.  

Many cities in this county already operates under such an amendment to the city charter. The SOS initiative would extend that power to the people in the unincorporated areas. If you are worried about urban sprawl you have every reason to be concerned that the County is maneuvering to render your concerns and your vote moot.

Attention, attention must be paid to the voters of San Diego county! And it starts with those voters who ought to demand that the County show them some respect. 

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

4 responses to “County readies to disrespect the voters—big time”

  1. Ken Rice says:

    They are willing to do anything for a buck even hostile take over of Julian volunteer fire dept .

  2. Miriam Raftery says:

    David – Brilliant editorial. Might we get permission to reprint it on East County Magazine, including a link back to your site? It’s important for everyone to read this and see what the county is up to, which sounds unethical to me. If we can run this, please email me.


  3. Steve says:

    I have read the EIR for this project personally, and attended all the meetings where this was talked about. Newland has lied to everyone using the media outlets to push them, over their opposition. The truth is that they will be buying carbon credits out of the country with no way to verify they actually are being used, and so in no way is it even a positive thing for California or even our country. They have lied about the mitigations their EIR which states: that there will be unmitigatable and unavoidable impacts to local schools all over capacity, it will give the I15 in this area an F rating by CALTRANS, CALTRANS stated that newland has been deceitful about road improvements to the I-15 non of which are in planning or represented in their EIR, the improvements to Deer Springs will disrupt large scale archaeological sites which will turn their 10 year time frame into a long drawn out process since they will be pulling bones and relics at every step, they will be destroying over 50 acres of endangered species habitat using a mitigation parcel past ramona that does not even contain the animals, they did not include a single fire evacuation plan or incorporate how it will affect the evacuation of other local communities they only have 2 roads in and out which will create a bottleneck for this community located centrally in a extreme fire danger area, they did improper studies for seasonal wetlands site located on their property containing possibly federally protected creatures, they will be blasting into highly dense silica granodiorite for at least 3-5 years which is proven to be extremely harmful for wildlife and the local community sending fine particulate that can travel for miles in the air and then settles to be kicked up by whomever disturbs it, they are locating their most affordable housing well over 500k in the cancer risk section of the I15 located near a known leaking underground gas holding chamber that has poisoned local groundwater, and the list goes on. The are extremely deceitful about their advertising of this community. They say it is affordable housing yet most homes will be above the 600k range up to and over the million mark. We all know once they get built the prices will only increase as their operating cost do. They claim to be fixing the I15, Caltrans said they lied about it. They say it is the most environmentally friendly, but the EIR shows it has significant unavoidable impacts on sensitive protected animals, and the wildlife corridors they use to avoid spilling over the freeway. Bill horn took 25k in campaign contributions from them and the San Marcos mayor has done a good job of keeping this development hush hush in his city. They will have the population density of Del Mar in less than 800 acres. They will add over 10,000 more cars to the local streets furthering the gridlock we experience locally. They will be sending a majority of their kids to local schools which will exacerbate this traffic problem because parents will be commuting through town to drop off the students. The county supervisors under Bill Horn changed the meeting times in September for discussion of this to the morning when most cant attend to mitigate the impact of local opposition. Bill Horn also has land in Valley Center which he stands to make a large equity gain by streamlining this project. He was abstained from voting on Lilac Hills because of this fact. Don’t believe the false advertising of this development, Rita Brandon the President of Newland has redacted video where she names opposition by name using derogatory terms and false slandering statements in her lobbying to the City Commerce Board in San Diego. They claim to be a San Diego company, however are not a California company. They are a national company which is actually partially owned by the largest developers in Japan, owning large shares of the company. These people only care about money, they are liars, and the media is willfully publishing their lies without educating themselves first on the facts don’t buy into it, this project is a terrible idea for San Diegans. Also Kirk Effinger is featured in their promotional ad videos and has a heavy presence online in favor of them furthering their lies.

  4. AN says:

    Don’t trust him . I was married to him

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