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I only have one question about the latest plan to force San Diegans to take the bus, live in high rise condos and destroy billions of dollars in property with downzoning: Haven’t we seen this somewhere before? Yes we have.
Twice in the last ten years, county voters rejected almost identical measures at the ballot box. Both sponsored by the same group: Save our Forests and Ranchlands, headed by Duncan McFetridge. Yet for some reason, county staffers decided these rotten ideas would improve with age or San Diego voters are too stupid to remember. Either way, they are back. This time, dressed up as something called the county’s General Plan Update.
The first thing we always hear about the General Plan Update is that county officials have been working on it for 11 years. So we might as well just go ahead and do it. Not so fast: The plain fact is that McFetridge in drag is not any more appealing than the real McFetridge.
The next thing we hear is unless we get people out of their cars and into high rise condos near the trolley, people like McFetridge might have to wait an extra minute when he drives from Descanso to his downtown office to preach the evils of driving to downtown offices.
When San Diego voters figured out that McFetridge’s so-called plan to save the back county was really all about destroying property values and forcing people to stop driving their cars, they sent him and his plan packing back to his Descanso ranch (not that he actually grows anything there).
If he were a real rancher, he would know that his scheme — in its latest form as the General Plan Update — is the worst thing that could happen to ranchers and farmers. Real ranchers know the value of their land is often the only think keeping them in business. It’s how they borrow money to buy seed and stock and equipment. Downzoning will rob farmers of the value of their land and drive them off their soil as surely as drought or floods or disease or heat or cold. Or, if the business of farming and ranching dries up from foreign competition or an increase in the price of water — as has happened in North San Diego County — the value of that land, the ability of the farmer to sell his property, is the only thing keeping his family out of the poor house.
Real ranchers know that and so do the people writing this General Plan Update. They just don’t care. But, the rest of us should. This General Plan Update is another scheme to stop roads, schools, water and homes in the hopes that we can crowd more people into already crowded places and call that planning, that we can kill property values and destroy new jobs, all without damaging our ability to make a living.
Voters have seen through this collectivist pipe dream two times already. Now, it is the county’s Board of Supervisors’ turn to make the third time a charm.
Dan Auld is a San Diego businessman and lives in the Marina District.