Court leaves most of Lilac Hills Ranch opposition ballot statement standing

What would become Lilac Hills Ranch.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Eddie C. Sturgeon Wednesday told Lilac Hills Ranch supporters to forget about changing opposition ballot statements.

Sturgeon denied the request of Lilac Hills Ranch advocates that opponents alter language in their ballot statement, in effect legitimizing the right of opponents to frame their arguments as they chose fit.

“The court supported our concerns about Measure B,” James Gordon of the No on B campaign said. “It is inconsistent with the General Plan. It will not provide affordable housing, and the developer’s contributions to address known traffic impacts are a drop in the bucket compared to what it will cost taxpayers to keep traffic flowing.”

Gordon added: “San Diego voters are committed to defeating this ill-conceived measure.”

The entire case revolved around Lilac Hills Ranch developer Randy Goodson’s end run around a San Diego County Board of Supervisers disapproval of his attempt to place 1,700 homes and 90,000-square-feet of commercial space on agricultural land that is currently zoned to hold 110 new homes and no commercial space in very rural North County. The San Diego Planning Commission had attached additional environmental conditions to the project as well.

Goodson’s supporters gathered enough signatures to place Measure B on the November election ballot. His end run presumably benefits his efforts as it allows voters from Imperial Beach to Oceanside to decided the fate of the proposed development rather than voters in the potentially affected areas immediately surrounding the rural landscape around Bonsall, Pauma Valley, Valley Center and Escondido.

The County’s analysis of Measure B indicates that the project would add more than 19,000 daily car trips to regional roads, freeways and highways, according to No on B spokeswoman Nina Erlich-Williams. It also showed that the developer’s contributions toward essential infrastructure for the project will only cover a fraction of the costs associated with the project, she said.

The court agreed that the developer’s contribution to road improvements would likely leave a significant shortfall in the total cost of needed improvements, leaving taxpayers to pay for additional costs.

Sturgeon’s decision also supports the arguments made by opponents of Measure B that representatives of the project misled the public in claiming that Lilac Hills Ranch would provide affordable housing,  Erlich-Williams said.

“With this court case behind us, the truth about Measure B is clear,” former County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price said. “Lilac Hills Ranch is a bad project for San Diego County, and Measure B would set a terrible precedent for our region. Voters should be very cautious about allowing big money developers to push their agendas through the ballot box instead of conforming to local laws and planning requirements.”

Individuals who endorsed the ballot statements were named in the lawsuit. Aside from Slater-Price, defendants in the lawsuit included: Jeanne Brown, President of the San Diego Chapter of the League of Women Voters; Diane Coombs, President of San Diegans for Managed Growth; Martha Cox, President of the North County San Diego Chapter of the League of Women Voters; Dr. Lou Obermeyer, retired Superintendent of the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District; Victor Reed, retired Escondido Fire Chief; and Pat Zaharopoulous, President & CEO of Middle Class Taxpayers.

Across the county, concerned citizens are uniting against this effort to secure what amounts to taxpayer subsidies for an ill-conceived, poorly-located development,”  Slater-Price said. “I stand by every statement in the ballot arguments submitted against Measure B.”

“Every word in our ballot statement and rebuttal is based on the County’s analysis of the ballot measure or on statements previously made by representatives of Accretive Investments,” said James Gordon, member of the No on B campaign committee.

“This lawsuit is just one more attempt by this developer to distract the voters from the truth: Measure B is a bad deal for San Diego County,” Gordon said. “San Diegans will not be intimidated out of speaking the truth.”

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