WE DID IT!

On Nov 27, 2018 the Registrar of voters confirmed the “No on Newland Sierra and Bad Development” referendum has gathered the required number of valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. San Diego County Supervisors now have to decide between rescinding their approval of the proposed project or placing the project on the ballot for a public vote.

“NO ON NEWLAND SIERRA” REFERENDUM QUALIFIES
WITH MORE THAN 94,000 SIGNATURES
REGISTRAR OF VOTERS VALIDATES VOTER SIGNATURES

San Diego County Registrar of Voters L. Michael Vu released a memo today confirming the “No on Newland Sierra and Bad Development” referendum has gathered the required number of valid voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. San Diego County Supervisors now have to decide between rescinding their approval of the proposed project or placing the project on the ballot for a public vote.

“We appreciate the diligence of the Registrar and staff, particularly with the timing of the General Election,” said Baldwin. “We don’t think a people’s referendum has ever been put on the ballot in San Diego County, so this overwhelming outpouring of voter interest really shows the Board of Supervisors there is huge concern over bad development.”

County Supervisors are expected to make a decision on the referendum at the next regular Board meeting on December 11.

 

The Truth Surrounding Newland

Newland Sierra Project Inconsistency with North County MSCP

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services personnel in San Diego County have significant concerns about the Newland Sierra Project and its impacts on habitat and viability of the MSCP (Multiple Species Conservation Act). Documents linked show that local agency experts were silenced after Newland Sierra proponents exerted political pressure on senior agency officials.

Very High Fire Severity Area

The Newland Sierra Project is in a Very High Fire Severity Zone where the County General Plan restricts the density of housing. Newland’s evacuation study is inadequate. The road capacity could not handle a large scale evacuation which only includes 2 evacuation exits for a project the size of the city of Del Mar. Total evacuation time could take over 3 hours.

I-15 Gridlock!

Newland will add 28,862 new trips per day to local roads and the I-15 and will pay NOTHING to mitigate the gridlock!  There will be 26 miles of failing freeway service where Newland will contribute ZERO to. Their fair share of cost would be at least $153 million.

ZERO units of Affordable Housing

Newland Sierra is inconsistent with the General Plan Affordable Housing Policy H-1.9 which requires developers to provide an affordable housing component when requesting a General Plan Amendment for a large sale residential project when it is legally permissible. Newland is failing to provide any affordable units in the 2,135 units that they are building.

Newland CANNOT Build 2 Million Square Feet of Big Box

Contrary to their claims, Newland cannot build 2 million square feet of Big Box and Office Commercial per the General Plan.  As the previous developers of this property stated: “The proposed Office Professional and Commercial designations are poorly located and unresponsive to market demands.”

Merriam Mountain is an Important Wildlife Corridor

Merriam Mountain is only one of the 2 large habitat blocks that remain west of the I-15 and is also listed as a pre-approved Mitigation Area in the Draft North County MSCP. The Newland project will isolate habitat in the area and reduce its viability. The connections available for wildlife to move through this area are crucial!

In the News

Fate Of North County Housing Development Rests With San Diego Supervisors

The largest new housing development proposed in North County comes up for a vote before the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday, September 26.
KPBS North County reporter Alison St John says Newland Sierra would build more than two thousand new homes to an area known, until now, for its wildlife and quiet retreat centers.

Should housing developers be allowed to pay their way out of climate pollution?

Board of Supervisors is now on the verge of doubling down on allowing developers to pay their way out of climate pollution. Citing the state’s desperate need for housing, it’s poised to adopt a potentially precedent-setting strategy that would allow developers to buy millions of dollars in carbon offsets in exchange for building projects that dramatically increase the number of cars on the road.

Proposed developments will dramatically increase traffic congestion along 1-15

The full scope of the impact of these various developments is extremely important given that SANDAG does not plan for any transportation infrastructure improvements to the I-15 corridor north of Escondido until at least 2050, and that even then, funding for such improvements may be in jeopardy.

Measure would force countywide votes on backcountry housing projects.

“The public needs a vote so it’s not left to developers who come in from out of town, buy cheap land because it is zoned for very, very low density, and then go before a very compliant board of supervisors and get their plans approved, make their windfall, leave town, and then go do it again,” said former Supervisor Pam Slater-Price.

County Officials Set to Consider Allowing Nearly 6,000 New Homes in High Wildfire Risk Areas

There’s an invisible line where human development meets flammable vegetation, and it’s where the most destruction from wildfires occurs.

It’s called the wildland-urban interface. In San Diego, developers are looking to build nearly 6,000 more homes along this frontline.

Lessons learned? Lilac Fire tested strategies drawn from '07 and '03 fires

“When the Santa Ana winds come through, there’s no stopping them.”

What plays into making sure we are prepared to fight wildfires is: Air Power, Collaboration & Conflict, Weather and PLANNING!

Does ballot box planning make sense given recent results?

Four times in the past three years, developer-intitiated ballot measures, all in the North County, have appeared on local ballots. All four times, they failed. Which raises the question, will more developer-sponsored ballot measures appear in the future?

Battle brewing over Newland Sierra development

A downsized proposal to build more than 2,100 homes in a mostly undeveloped area north of San Marcos and west of Interstate 15 was met with derision this week by many residents who successfully battled a larger project previously planned for the site.

The land in question is zoned for only about 100 homes, but the developers are seeking an amendment from the county that would allow massive project to move forward.

This is not about Fighting Change.
It’s about Good Planning.

Only a few years ago, the County decided where growth should be directed—it was not here!

The Downfalls of Newland

Fire Hazard

The Project is located entirely within an area designated by the County as a “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone.”

Traffic

Overcrowding already crumbling infrastructure.

  • The County of San Diego spent 10 years developing a General Plan which found that Merriam Mountains was NOT an appropriate place for urban development.
  • The County Board of Supervisors already rejected the Merriam Mountains development project as inconsistent with the County General Plan principles.
  • Newland Sierra is back with the same proposal that was rejected twice by the County as a matter of public policy.
  • Alternative Are Available: The County should allow the Project Site to be developed with approximately 100 homes—as currently zoned.  Significant new housing should be located in previously developed areas near transit nodes in accordance with modern planning principles and the County’s own General Plan.
  • The Project is located entirely within an area designated by the County as a “Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone.”
  • The Project is in an already traffic burdened area and does not provide enough emergency access routes in the event of a fire. Gridlock during an evacuation would compromise the safety of the entire region.
  • Newland Sierra will funnel thousands of new car trips on to Deer Springs Road and I-15.
  • Newland Sierra proposes to widen Deer Springs Road to six lanes and build a new I-15 Interchange, drawing thousands of cut-through commuters.
    • Yet, Newland plans to start building before Caltrans finishes its analysis and approval of a re-designed interchange at Deer Springs Road and I-15.
  • Newland proposes no new freeway lanes and no new transit infrastructure.

The Vallecitos Water District projects a water supply deficit for the next 20 years. The District’s Water Supply Assessment requires a 36% water supply cut to existing customers in order to serve Newland Sierra.

  • The Project Site sits on one of only two remaining large blocks of natural habitat west of I-15 in a valuable “Pre-Approved Mitigation Area.” Newland Sierra would sever important regional north-south and east-west wildlife corridors.
  • Yet, Newland is seeking special treatment from the County to have the Project “carved out” of the regional biological mitigation plan before the plan has even been adopted by the County and federal and state wildlife agencies.

The Project will require condemnation of some existing property owners’ land and other private property impacts. In particular, expanding Deer Springs Road will require additional right of way and drainage, slope, and support easements.

The Project would impact significant cultural resources, particularly by expanding Deer Springs Road—including a site with Native American human remains.

  • The Project will cause long, single-occupant vehicle trips because of its location far from jobs and urban centers and the area’s lack of transit infrastructure.
  • The County should not consider Newland Sierra until the County completes its Climate Action Plan (“CAP”).  The Golden Door and Sierra Club recently won a trial court decision invalidating the County’s threshold for measuring greenhouse gas (“GHG”) impacts because it was inconsistent with the County’s promise to base GHG analysis on a CAP

Previous News Articles

Judge Taylor overturned the County’s threshold for evaluating GHG impacts.

On April 28, 2017, Judge Taylor ruled in favor of the Sierra Club, The Golden Door, our community and our environment.  He overturned the County’s threshold for evaluating GHG impacts.  His decision prevents developers from relying on a “pre-approved” GHG threshold that would have failed to adequately reduce GHG emissions.  As a result, it will be very difficult for Newland (or other any developer seeking a General Plan Amendment) to do a legally adequate GHG analysis in their Environmental Impact Report (EIR) before the County approves its Climate Action Plan some time next year.

As background, the County’s General Plan requires the County to prepare a Climate Action Plan as a comprehensive scheme to reduce GHG emissions in accordance with State-wide goals.  The Climate Action Plan would provide a “budget” of available GHG emissions for development across the entire County – a “zero sum” budget that accounts only for projects in the General Plan, not unplanned greenfield projects.  Any new proposed project still has to fit within the total GHG budget, and must be weighed carefully against other, better alternatives for new housing.

Developers, like Newland, should wait to publish their EIRs until the County has completed the Climate Action Plan and developed the “budget” for Countywide GHG emissions.  If a developer chooses to push forward with publishing their EIR in the near future, they will have to either use County’s GHG threshold which was just overturned in court or to make up a new GHG threshold “on the fly” – either of which creates a significant risk that project opponents could successfully sue the project over its GHG analysis.

For last week’s hearing, the Sierra Club had also requested that the judge halt ALL General Plan Amendments until the County completes its Climate Action Plan.  While the judge did not take that extraordinary step in his ruling, he chastised the County for dragging its feet on the Climate Action Plan and told the Sierra Club they could come back and try again in a few months if the County had not made significant progress.  This should send a clear signal to any developer that trying to approve a big project before the Climate Action Plan is completed would be a huge risk.

All in all, this was a big win for the environment and the community.  Developers won’t be able to rely on a pre-approved County threshold to get projects approved that exceed the budget for GHGs the County considered with its General Plan. 

New housing battle looms in North County

Like Lilac Hills, the project would require an amendment to the county General Plan, a hard-fought blueprint for future housing growth that focuses on minimizing urban sprawl and putting new homes in more densely populated areas.

Battle brewing over Newland Sierra development

The land in question is zoned for only about 100 homes, but the developers are seeking an amendment from the county that would allow massive project to move forward.

Measure A bankrolled by out-of-town infrastructure interests and one environmental group

“The infrastructure is just plain not here,” resident Dee Folse told Fox 5 News in March.

New plan for Merriam Mountains site

The board of supervisors rejected Merriam Mountains in 2010 by a 3-2 vote, with the majority of the panel saying the days of such sprawling housing developments in rural areas may be coming to an end.

Merriam Mountains project starting over

It was the “wrong project, wrong time, wrong location,” Jacob said at the time.

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