It was a classic and pretty much forgotten today radio-then-TV show, “Life of Riley,” starring William Bendix as wing riveter Chester A. Riley, who tag-lined in outrage “What a revoltin’ development this is,” when life, as it always seemed to on that venerable show, went wrong. It happened every week back then and it’s happening again around North County.
Nobody in North County wants the massive, and massively inappropriate, Lilac Hills Ranch project to be built. It’s been turned down by pretty much every local planning group and resident. It’s been rebuffed by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
Yet, due to attempted influence peddling in the form of of an end run ballot measure, there it is, on the November ballot with residents who won’t be affected in the least in places like El Cajon and Downtown San Diego able to vote on the measure.
Other developers have tried this tactic before, but not on the grand scale of a countywide vote. The Escondido Country Club cabal, i.e. Michel Schlesinger, tried, and failed, at Escondido. Carlsbad eminence grise Rick Caruso tried, and failed, to fast-track his shopping center near Carlsbad’s Agua Hedionda Lagoon.
Now, Randy Goodson, chaser of the cheap buck, is trying to make a ton of money off the backs of the people living in the Bonsall-Valley Center-Escondido area, endangering the community’s safety as well while he tries to fulfill his grand design, then take the money and run.
Where it comes to Life of Reilly and what a revoltin’ development this is, we have a poster child in, and you know where this is going, the big, bad, bogeyman, otherwise known as Lilac Hills Ranch.
Lilac Hills Ranch is a total knock-off, albeit one-third the size of Goodson’s previous large-scale project, San Elijo Hills at San Marcos. Lilac Hills might even be a good-to-go development should it be placed in a more urban area like San Marcos or south Escondido.
But it’s not.
Location, location, location and this beast simply is the wrong size and in the wrong place.
We’ve heard a lot lately about leapfrog development and how Lilac Hills Ranch not only is inappropriate for rural North County, violates community standards and even circumvents the costly and long thought-out General Plan. More than that even, this beast represents a clear, and present, public danger.
A dangerous road
It’s true. Anybody who has driven around Goodson’s proposed Lilac Hills area knows how dangerous and just plain dumb this project would be in that landscape. The winding two-lane roads with limited sight-lines, and no plans for widening either at developer or county expense, barely supports existing traffic.
Throw in 1,700-plus homes and thousands of people and you get a disaster waiting to happen.
The area has witnessed several full-scale conflagrations already this century with drought and climate change further compounding future issues. Evacuations already have proved problematic. During one fire, Valley Center Road and Lilac Road backed up and couldn’t take the large number of evacuees. In another fire event, the roads were closed and offered no room for escape.
It’s easy to see why Goodson doesn’t care. He’s got a nice project on paper and aims to put it precisely on the expanding commuter corridor between Temecula and Escondido where people want to live and more housing indubitably is needed.
That doesn’t make it right.
When projects are executed, Goodson picks up his chips and moves on to the next development game. The people left behind suffer the consequences. Should Lilac Hills Ranch be built, Goodson will be nowhere to be found while Bonsall, Valley Center, Pauma Valley and Escondido residents must weather the change and the consequences.
The first time disaster strikes around a developed Lilac Hills Ranch will be the worst time. It will happen as sure as death and taxes and it won’t be a pretty sight.
Long story short, and with due regard to William Bendix and Chester A. Riley, Lilac Hills is a revoltin’ development. Do the right thing, voters, whether it be around Escondido or Valley Center, Chula Vista or Oceanside, and send Measure B and Goodson’s Lilac Hills Ranch packing to somewhere other than our back yards, and where the sun don’t shine.