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The League of Women Voters has commented throughout the evolution of the county General Plan, supporting the principles of compact growth, livable village communities, preservation of habitat and open space, as well as identifying and safeguarding agricultural land. The League of Women Voters emphasized the need to enforce fire-safe development. Additionally, it highlighted the belief that in regard to land use planning and regulation, “government must provide for involvement of citizens in the earliest planning and regulatory stages and throughout the process, developing mechanisms to minimize conflict of interest on the part of persons who make land use decisions.” Those principles and beliefs are now being jeopardized by the Board of Supervisors’ recommendation to process private General Plan amendments at the public’s expense.
What is at stake here is the increased density of almost 13,000 acres consisting predominantly of sensitive wildlife habitat, agricultural land, steep slopes, wetlands and even flood plains contrary to the principles of the new General Plan. The requests under consideration are not minor changes. These properties, when developed, will be incompatible with surrounding properties requiring changes in the General Plan’s Land Use map and/or Mobility Element network, in turn, impacting the Transportation Impact Fee program. Some requests also include evaluation of additional properties beyond the original request in order to maintain consistency in land use mapping.
The direct transfer of up to $2.36 million tax dollars, with no public benefit and considerable private gain, to a select group of landowners would be compounded by permanent public subsidies to provide infrastructure and services to dispersed development, exacerbated by the creation of even more development in high fire hazard areas. Typically, the project proponent pays for the costs of the General Plan amendment, not the taxpayers. These subsidies are inappropriate; private profit needs to be privately funded. The county has already expended too many taxpayer dollars deliberating over these landowner’s requests. To avoid further conflict of interest implications, all future funding should be at the expense of the property owners.
The League of Women Voters of San Diego County believes that this General Plan Amendment Work plan is fiscally and environmentally irresponsible. Landowners need to pay for their own General Plan amendments and follow the regulations. We urge the county board to adhere to the principles and guidelines of the General Plan which you adopted just last year.
Veronica J. Seay is the president of The League of Women Voters of San Diego County and Jösan Feathers is the natural resources director.
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