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The developer of Lilac Hills, a proposed 1,700-home development in Valley Center, has gathered enough signatures to place their project on the ballot, and now it’s up to the County Board of Supervisors whether to outright approve the project or send it to voters.

It became uncertain whether the Board of Supervisors would greenlight the project after Supervisor Bill Horn was forced to recuse himself.

And there were other reasons the developer, Accretive Investments, decided to gamble on sending the project to the ballot: If it went through the county’s normal process, it would need to deal with two outstanding safety issues that it hasn’t yet figured out how to address. If it goes to the ballot, it won’t have to address them at all – it wrote the measure in a way that would exempt the development from the safety standards, which deal with emergency response and road safety issues.

Those two exemptions in the initiative have sprouted opposition from neighbors, who now say they’ll sue the county if it approves the project.

Gathering the signatures to qualify for the ballot shields Lilac Hills from lawsuits under the state’s environmental law, but the neighbors contend it doesn’t shield the county from other types of lawsuits.

“Yes, it’s exempt from [the California Environmental Quality Act]. That just requires that you disclose the impacts. Civil liability is a whole different set of issues – it would mean the county voted and knowingly had a hand in safety issues,” one person told VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan.

This week, the board decided to create an analysis of the initiative before it decides how to move forward, likely at their Aug. 2 meeting.

Moving Poway Unified Forward

In the wake of the firing of Poway Unified Superintendent John Collins, school board member Kimberley Beatty has written a damning op-ed piece about the board’s refusal to institute accountability and oversight measures.

Beatty says when she got on the board, she saw “self-dealing, conflicts of interest, backroom deals and other improprieties by the superintendent and others.” Now, she lays out specific steps the district should take to avoid corruption, including hiring staff to fill jobs that contractors hold, changing the district’s legal counsel and dropping the Dolinka Group, which has contracts to act as a consultant and financial adviser for the district but has created numerous headaches.

Beatty also said the state wasn’t willing to provide the oversight it should have when she reported illegal actions: “While everyone supports ‘local control,’ enforcing the law shouldn’t have to be dependent on a board majority’s will. When bad acts are left unchecked, they become accepted business practices.”

But Do They Tweet Where They’re Cooking Next?

In a few North County cities, about one of every four adults over the age of 65 is considered low-income – making less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $23,000. For seniors on a fixed income, that means making the choice between paying bills, and eating a healthy meal.

But a coalition of North County nonprofits cooked up an idea to run a food truck to combat poor nutrition and social isolation, which are some of the leading issues facing seniors, the Sacramento Bee writes.

North County Seniors Connection operates the food truck in Oceanside, Vista and San Marcos and makes hot lunches for seniors at community centers and mobile home parks, and other places where seniors gather and live.

One man who goes out for the weekly lunches say it allows him and his wife to eat the kind of fresh food they’ve eaten their whole lives. Another woman said it gets her out of the house meeting people, when she would otherwise just be sitting around.

Also in the News

• An Oceanside organization that serves as a soup kitchen and temporary homeless shelter in the winter is looking to operate a year-round shelter for the homeless. (The Coast News)

• The Faculty Association in the San Dieguito Union High School District led a small protest against two members of the school board who voted against the budget for the next school year. (Encinitas Advocate)

• A whale that was once a social media star found a second act in making posthumous appearances at beaches from Los Angeles to Encinitas, where a crew was finally tasked with cutting it up and taking it to a landfill. (Surfline)

• In other decaying news, the remains of Oceanside’s drive-in theatre, which was shut down in the late 1990s, have been torn down. (Union-Tribune)

 About a dozen people held a rally in Oceanside to highlight the experiences of minority communities. (The Coast News)

 Carlsbad is allocating $14.8 million to pay off debt from the construction of The Crossings, one of the most expensive municipal golf courses in the country. (Union-Tribune)

Ruarri Serpa

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at ruarris@gmail.com and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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