San Diego County Measure A, Voter Approval For Land Use Amendments to County General Plan probably sounds more than a little wonky.
However, it is a measure that affects regional housing, transportation and development in a profound way; and is on the March 3 primary ballot. Supporters refer to it in a somewhat more people-friendly manner as “Safeguard Our San Diego Countryside (SOS) Citizens’ Initiative.”
In a nutshell, the measure would require voter approval for any amendments increasing residential density for properties already designated as semi-rural or rural in the General Plan.
It has drawn a kind of David versus Goliath matchup.
Escondido Mayor Paul “Mac” McNamara, former San Diego County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, Del Mar Councilman Dwight Worden, League of Women Voters of California, Climate Action Campaign, and Grow the San Diego Way support the measure. A group called Safeguard Our San Diego Countryside is leading the effort
“It encourages smarter development decisions without allowing special interests to change the plan that the public and other stakeholders spent over a decade and $18 million developing,” Slater-Price said in Ballotpedia.
In a rare display of “bipartisan” unity, fighting at the opposing side of the ring: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, San Diego Democratic Party, Republican Party of San Diego County, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and San Diego Housing Federation.
“Adding more barriers in San Diego County during a housing crisis that already puts scores of homes and apartments out of reach for most employees is a bad idea,” Jerry Sanders, CEO of San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said.
The Escondido Grapevine strongly supports Measure A. It gives residents a fighting chance to have a say on future development rather than allow corporate and real estate interests along with career politicians to continue gaming the system.
Yes on Measure A, The SOS Initiative:
• Prevents sprawl development
• Stops backroom political deals
• Give voters a voice
• Promotes needed development
Meanwhile, today, Wednesday Feb. 5 at Downtown Escondido
Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara and Vista City Councilmember Corinna Contreras today urged San Diego County voters to vote Yes on Measure A, the Safeguard Our San Diego Countryside (SOS) Citizens’ Initiative. At a press conference in Escondido, the two elected officials highlighted the benefits of voter involvement in approving General Plan Amendments and spoke about the history of Proposition S, an Escondido land use rule comparable to the countywide Measure A.
“In Escondido, the passage of Proposition S encouraged development where it was needed most,” McNamara said. “Prop S has not impeded economic development or housing development in Escondido, and there is every reason to believe that Measure A will similarly guide developers to build housing closer to jobs and infrastructure.”
Under today’s system, developers have repeatedly proposed large luxury developments in fire-prone areas of unincorporated San Diego County. Measure A gives voters a voice in deciding whether zoning changes for large housing developments in rural and semi-rural areas of San Diego’s backcountry should be allowed.
“Measure A encourages following the County’s smart growth general plan, which is the key to meeting our greenhouse gas emissions targets and creating a more sustainable region,” said Vista Councilmember Corinna Contreras.
“When the County does not follow its smart growth general plan, it destroys habitat while creating more congestion in our region and making housing less affordable,” Contreras said. “Sprawl is bad for the cities and bad for the countryside. Vote Yes on Measure A to limit sprawl.”
San Diego County’s General Plan concentrates new housing in areas where roads, public safety, schools and other services are already available. These locations are easier to defend from wildfire and have a lower taxpayer burden because they don’t require new infrastructure. The General Plan also zones for housing in areas that would limit traffic impacts.
San Marcos Councilmember Randy Walton, who was unable to attend, released the following statement, “San Marcos and other North County cities are working hard to build the right kinds of housing in the right kinds of places. If the County continues to approve sprawl projects requiring amendments to their smart-growth general plan, it undermines smart regional planning for our entire county.
Walton added: “A vote of ‘yes’ on Measure A will help limit congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and habitat destruction while contributing to a vibrant, livable North County with housing and job opportunities for all.”
“Measure A will give voters a say in San Diego’s land use decisions and will reduce the outsized influence of political contributions from developers; it will be a game changer,” said JP Theberge of Grow the San Diego Way and the Yes on A Campaign.
“The General Plan has areas zoned for 60,000 more housing units in the county,” Theberge continued. ” Measure A will encourage us to build where we smartly planned for development rather than inefficiently and in a haphazard manner in our fire-prone backcountry. This approach has worked in Escondido and in many other jurisdictions, and it will work in the unincorporated San Diego County too.”
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