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A new developer is working to resurrect the highly controversial Gregory Canyon Landfill project near the Pala Band of Mission Indians reservation off State Route 76. While the site has been zoned for landfill use for more than 20 years, the private equity firm that now owns it still faces an uphill battle to open a 30-million-ton dump site there, writes Voice of San Diego’s Ry Rivard.
The new owner, Sovereign Capital Management Group, claims San Diego County will run out of landfill space within the next 10 years, but that estimate is based on a 2011 study that does not account for more recent developments at other dump sites around the county. Sovereign Capital Management will have to prove to regulators that there is a need for the landfill and that there is no better alternative elsewhere. They’ll also have to fight critics, including environmentalist groups concerned about impacting the water supply and the Pala Band, whose members say the landfill would desecrate a sacred site.
Grappling With the Drought
• Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar will challenge County Supervisor Dave Roberts for his seat in 2016, writes the U-T’s Logan Jenkins, who also explores whether Toni Atkins, the speaker of the Assembly, will try to unseat her fellow Democrat, Marty Block, in the Senate. She didn’t deny it.
After a public shaming in the national media earlier this year, customers of the Santa Fe Irrigation District seem to be doing a good job of cutting the amount of water they use. The district, which serves Rancho Santa Fe and Solana Beach, used 37 percent less water in June 2015 than it did in June 2013. That was a greater reduction than any other water district in the county. Customers in Carlsbad, Valley Center, Rainbow and parts of Encinitas missed their own reduction targets. (10 News)
• The San Dieguito Water District in Encinitas will spend an extra $100,000 a year to bill its customers monthly rather than every other month. Officials hope monthly billing will help customers track their water usage and conserve more. (Union-Tribune)
• Solana Beach residents want to tap into those purple pipes to water their lawns with reclaimed water, but officials say that solution is neither as simple nor as affordable as it sounds. (Del Mar Times)
• In the nearby Olivenhain Municipal Water District, researchers from Cal State San Marcos are testing a hypothesis that people will conserve more water if they are asked to make a personal commitment to use less. (Encinitas Advocate)
• Farmers in the rural areas beyond Escondido are cutting their water use by switching from citrus and avocado groves to higher-value crops that require less water. Capital Public Radio took a tour of the area and interviewed a Valley Center family that traded orange trees for grapevines. (Capital Public Radio)
• Meanwhile, construction on a massive desalination plant in Carlsbad is nearly complete. Construction workers are now putting the finishing touches — exterior walls, parking lots and landscaping — on the project. When it begins operating this fall, the Carlsbad Desalination Project will be the largest desalination plan in the Western Hemisphere, providing 50 million gallons per day to customers in the region. (KPBS)
VOSD’s Ry Rivard explained back in May why San Diego County water customers’ bills will jump thanks to the desal plant, even as cheaper water sits unused in reservoirs.
The New Yorker explored the question of whether desalination can really save us from the drought, given the technology’s failure to live up to expectations in other U.S. cities, as well as its high costs and potential to negatively impact the environment.
• The increasing likelihood of a wet El Niño weather pattern this winter has some wondering whether that desalinated water will even be needed. Satellite images show water temperature patterns that look strikingly similar to those seen during the last major El Niño event in 1997, but a climate researcher warns that the images don’t guarantee rain. (KPBS)
• That “blob” of warm water has brought some unusually large fish to the area. The Orange County Register detailed the story of a man who caught a 96-pound opah about eight miles off the coast between Oceanside and Encinitas. Opah is usually only found in waters farther south.
More North County News
• Members of the Carlsbad Planning Commission said last week that the city’s new General Plan is too generous to pedestrians and bicyclists and that cars should have a higher priority on major streets. Commissioners were also concerned about the amount of residential development planned for the largely undeveloped northeastern part of the city. Nonetheless, they approved a draft of the plan and forwarded it to the City Council. (Union-Tribune)
• The Del Mar City Council is not sure what to do about its Tourism Business Improvement District, which collects a 1 percent fee from guests at the city’s six hotels and spends the money on marketing. The district, which was first authorized five years ago, will expire at the end of September if the Council does not act to renew it. (Coast News)
• An attorney for the city of Oceanside says it’s not the city’s fault that a speeding driver killed a 29-year-old woman in a collision at the intersection where Route 78 ends and turns into Vista Street, just west of Interstate 5. The victim’s mother is suing the city and Caltrans for failing to respond to years of complaints about the safety of the road design there. (Union-Tribune)
• It took 77 days for the federal government to release an Escondido man on bond after he was arrested by immigration agents last December, despite the fact that he was married to an American citizen, had no criminal record and had been living in the U.S. for more than a decade. His long wait illustrates the problems of an immigration enforcement system that is struggling to bear the weight of an unprecedented caseload, KPBS reports.
• The Fallbrook Public Utilities District plans to elect board members by geographic districts in response to a voting rights lawsuit by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. The lawsuit, filed under the California Voting Rights Act, claims the Fallbrook district’s at-large elections disenfranchise Latino voters. (Union-Tribune)
• The guy running an Uber knockoff in North County once lost a case against the city of Carlsbad, which claimed he maliciously and fraudulently trademarked the city’s golf course logo and tried to profit from it, according to 10News.
• A plan to build a high-end shopping mall proposed along the south side of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad would not adequately protect the sacred archaeological remains of former Indian villages in the area, according to representatives of the Luiseño Band of Mission Indians. (Union-Tribune)