The developer of the Lilac Hills Ranch development, it turns out, supports the Lilac Hills Ranch development.

Randy Goodson, the developer of the massive development seeking approval in rural Valley Center, sits on the board of directors for the San Diego North Economic Development Council, a nonprofit advocacy group for North County economic growth, which voted in April to endorse the project. He decided not to recuse himself from the vote.

Goodson’s input didn’t swing the vote one way or the other – 19 board members voted in favor, and six either abstained or didn’t respond. Nor does the board’s vote amount to all that much – the vote results in sending a letter to the county, registering the organization’s support.

Nonetheless, it’s a well-established practice for nonprofits to ask board members to recuse themselves from voting on issues in which they have a clear interest. The IRS registration form for nonprofits specifically asks whether organizations have a written policy to deal with conflicts.

Carl Morgan, chief executive officer of the San Diego North Economic Development Council, couldn’t say whether the organization has a policy to deal with conflicts of interest. The organization’s bylaws aren’t posted online and staff members didn’t provide them upon request.

Morgan said the organization supported the project knowing it would still go through a full approval process with the County Board of Supervisors.

“We are not building enough housing in our county, and housing our workforce is a critical link to our economic development chain,” he said. “We are saying, ‘You can work here, but you can’t live here.’ When there’s a project that generates housing for our workforce, from the perspective of housing our employees in North County, I don’t see that as a bad thing. I leave all the design and all the rest up to decision makers.”

Andrew Keatts is a former managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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