With the November election just weeks away, I am encouraging San Diego voters to vote No on the Lilac Hills Ranch Measure B. Measure B is a countywide measure on which all San Diego County voters – including residents of incorporated cities – will vote.
Measure B would allow a deep-pocketed developer to build Lilac Hills Ranch, a development of more than 1,700 homes and 90,000 square feet of retail space, in northern San Diego County.
This project would place a town the size of Del Mar in the middle of farm fields and rural roads, far from existing water and sewer lines, emergency services and jobs, all on land that is zoned for agriculture and 110 homes.
Lilac Hills Ranch would generate 19,000 daily new car trips on rural roads without making substantial improvements to support the additional traffic. An objective County report about the impacts of Measure B noted that it would significantly increase traffic on the already over-burdened I-15.
Measure B would contribute to the need for more than $1 billion in road and freeway improvements; the measure only requires the developer to contribute $5 million toward these vital investments. The remaining funds would come from taxpayers.
If Measure B passes, San Diego County taxpayers and future Lilac Hills Ranch homeowners will foot the bill for improved roads, water, sewer and other essential infrastructure to serve the development. The measure allows Lilac Hills Ranch to evade the county’s 5-minute rule for emergency and fire response times, despite its wildfire-prone location.
Perhaps even more worrisome is the precedent that Measure B would set: that with enough money a developer need not conform with General Plans or safety requirements set by public agencies.
Nothing in Measure B requires the developer to include affordable units. Detached single family homes will be priced between $500,000-700,000. Add home-owners association fees and Mello-Roos taxes to those starting prices, and this housing will be out of reach for the majority of San Diego County residents.
A Superior Court judge agreed that the measure’s proponents misled the public to place the measure on the ballot by touting the project as one that would provide affordable housing and homes for veterans.
Planning decisions of this scale are far too complex to be made at the ballot box, and developers should not be allowed to draft lengthy initiatives (this one is more than 600 pages long) and attempt to snow voters into supporting poorly-planned, taxpayer-subsidized projects.
I hope all San Diego County residents vote No on Measure B.