The proposed Lilac Hills Ranch development in rural North County may be in trouble.

The state’s Fair Political Practices Commission advised County Supervisor Bill Horn this week not to participate in the county’s decision due to a potential conflict of interest first reported in Voice of San Diego.

Insiders expected Horn to be a “yes” vote on Lilac Hills Ranch. Without Horn’s support, the board may end up with a tie vote, effectively torpedoing the project. As the Union-Tribune pointed out, two of the supervisors voted against a similarly large housing development five years ago.

Horn issued a press release condemning the state’s recommendation: “I will abstain with great trepidation and grave concern over the chipping away at the foundation of what we as Americans believe.”

Developer Randy Goodson of Accretive Investments said he expects the remaining supervisors to approve Lilac Hills Ranch.

Still Looking for Answers

If you were hoping for a detailed policy discussion, last week’s forum featuring the mayors of Encinitas and Poway was sort of a dud, writes VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan. Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar joined Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer to talk about the drought, infrastructure, economic growth and housing with the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. But the mayors never got much further than talking about what makes each of their cities great.

Gaspar, for example, held up the short-term rental ordinance that Encinitas passed in 2006 as an example of the city’s proactive approach to the AirBnB issue with which San Diego is now grappling. Gaspar, however, provided few details on the city’s efforts to accommodate housing for veterans and low-income residents. Vaus pointed to Poway’s exceptional performance on water conservation but did not say much about how the city would deal with the potential impact of imminent El Niño storms.

Ballot Issues Brewing

• Carlsbad officials are looking for a remedy to Proposition H, the 1982 initiative that bans the city from spending more than $1 million on civic construction projects without first seeking voter approval. The city wants to rebuild two fire stations and dig railroad trenches to allow trains to travel below street level through the Carlsbad Village, according to the Union-Tribune. City staff say they don’t yet know exactly how much those projects will cost, but they are considering a new ballot measure that would repeal or modify Prop. H.

• Poway school board member Andy Papatow is the target of a new recall effort. Keith Wilson, who filed the recall petition, told the Union-Tribune that he wants to replace Papatow with someone who would vote to fire Superintendent John Collins. Backers of the recall will have to collect 10,767 valid signatures over 160 days to force an election, which could cost well into the six-figure range. The effort has hit its share of snags, though: For the second time in the past week, the Registrar of Voters invalidated the recall notice due to a lack of registered voters on the form. Expect to see a third attempt soon.

• The Solana Beach School Board is considering asking voters to support a new general obligation bond to pay for upgrades to two of its schools. The board last week hired political consultant Tom Shepard to study whether the community would support a new bond. (Del Mar Times)

Encinitas vs. Small Plastic

• The proposed Styrofoam ban in Encinitas is now on indefinite hold. City leaders say the issue needs to be studied further. Mayor Kristin Gaspar wants residents to know they can recycle Styrofoam containers as long as they’ve cleaned them first. (Union-Tribune)

• Meanwhile, the city’s ban on single-use plastic bags has moved into its second phase. Grocery stores, convenience markets and pharmacies have already stopped offering single-use plastic bags to customers. Now, other retail businesses — such as department stores, clothing shops and hardware stores — must do the same. Restaurants and other food vendors are still allowed to use plastic bags. (Encinitas Advocate)

• State Sen. Pat Bates met with restaurant owners in Encinitas Tuesday to talk about the challenge of staying profitable while complying with new state and local labor laws on minimum wage, vacation pay, sick leave and health care. In a press release, Bates admonished politicians at all levels to seriously consider the concerns of small business owners before adopting new regulations that could hurt their bottom line.

Also in the News

• An environmental nonprofit is cutting down a number of large eucalyptus trees around Lake Hodges in an effort to reduce wildfire hazards, but some neighbors say the group is doing more harm than good. The residents say they’re concerned about the use of herbicides to remove non-native plants. They’re also worried about the future biodiversity of the area. “You can’t come into a place that is a world-renowned bird area and take out 60 to 80 percent of the trees and think you’re not making a difference,” one resident said. (The Coast News)

• A 262-acre residential development in San Marcos has sparked complaints not because it’s too dense — the developer plans to build just 189 homes — but because it may encourage the city to extend a road, the Coast News reports. The afflicted residents say they don’t want to see North Las Posas Road extended to Buena Creek Road because it will encourage more commuters to take backroads to stay off the heavily congested Route 78 during rush hour.

• The city of Escondido expects to save nearly $500,000 over the next 10 years by installing batteries to manage energy demands at seven city-owned properties. The new systems would re-charge the batteries at night to avoid tapping the grid during peak hours, when electricity is more expensive. (The Coast News)

• About 200 people attended a community workshop on homelessness in downtown Oceanside this week, where both police and residents said well-meaning groups who feed the homeless are contributing to the problem. Police also said the amenities that make Oceanside attractive to residents and tourists — the pier, a bustling street scene, a public library and a major transportation hub — also attract homeless people. One resident said the city could help by making it easier for the homeless people in the area to access social services. (Union-Tribune)

Jeremy Ogul

Jeremy Ogul is a freelance writer and editor in San Diego. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter...

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