San Diego County has a lot of land – a little less than four times as much as the state of Rhode Island – and much of it lays outside the control of cities.

With the task of managing the very large unincorporated part of the county falling to the five-member County Board of Supervisors, this year’s District 3 race is a particularly important one for development interests.

District 3 includes Encinitas south to Mount Soledad, and inland from Scripps Ranch to Escondido, where voters are relatively conservative, but like their environmental protections.

Supervisor Dave Roberts puts a lot of stock in the county’s general plan, which forbids large development in the backcountry. He is being challenged by Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar, who has received a lot of financial contributions from developers and frames land use issues in context of the county’s housing crunch.

The supes face a number of upcoming decisions about developments seeking special permission to build in rural areas, which goes against the general plan. Many of them would go in areas at severe risk for wildfires.

District 3 is also important in terms of its impact on the makeup of the board – especially as term limits come into effect. Districts 1 and 4, which are currently held by Republicans, could eventually go Democrat, leaving District 3 as a swing district.

“Supervisor Ron Roberts seat is likely in 2018 when he’s termed out, to go Democratic. And in 2020, Supervisor Greg Cox’s seat is likely to be represented by a Democrat. So District 3 likely ends up being a potential swing seat,” Tom Shepard, a political consultant, told KPBS.

More Legal Trouble Aimed at ‘Slow Growth’

Del Mar and Encinitas are having problems with housing density, which is preventing them from meeting their legal obligations.

At least, that’s according to two attorneys who have made their names opposing what they deem “bad development”: Marco Gonzalez and Cory Briggs.

Briggs is targeting Del Mar, over an area that was slated for higher-density development under the city’s 2013 housing element. It’s also the site of the controversial Watermark Project, whose opponents rallied to craft Measure R, an item on this year’s ballot that would enact a slow-growth measure similar to one in nearby Encinitas.

Briggs said he’ll sue on behalf of the Affordable Housing Coalition of San Diego County if Del Mar doesn’t follow through with plans to develop the site at the density it said it would.

Gonzalez, for his part, said he would sue Encinitas if residents don’t pass Measure T, the city’s attempt to adopt a housing element. An earlier initiative passed in Encinitas requires changes involving density to go before voters. That means the city might be put in the awkward position of voters rejecting a plan that’s required by state law.

“Basically, I’m going to tell the City Council that they have to adopt a housing element outright and that’s it,” Gonzalez said. “State law pre-empts city law when it comes to housing.”

Cannabis Could Help Remedy Farmers’ Water Woes

While most North County cities have bans on commercial cannabis, Proposition 64, which would legalize marijuana statewide for adults over the age of 21, could be a windfall for local farmers.

As Ry Rivard notes, in the face of high water prices, the ag community has a hunger for more profitable crops, and at least two North County water districts say if the state and local leaders allow commercial marijuana in their areas, they’ve got the water.

“I’d love if they start springing up, if they spring up near our recycled water line,” said Christopher W. McKinney, Escondido’s utilities director.

Valley Center Municipal Water District Director Gary Arandt said high water prices have, in part, made it harder for farmers to make money on all but the most profitable crops, and he expects that many local farmers will be looking for more lucrative crops.

“Unless you’re prepared to subsidize the farmers to grow food, then they are going to grow what’s profitable,” he said.

Several North County Districts Want Money for Classrooms

Amid the hubbub of candidates’ yard signs – either going up in places where they shouldn’t, or disappearing from people’s yards – another set of yard signs appearing around coastal North County caught my eye, urging voters to approve Measure MM.

What the heck is Measure MM?

Leo Casteneda at inewsource had a timely answer: Measure MM is MiraCosta Community College’s bond measure to pay for upgrades to its Veterans Center and career training facilities, among other needs, and it’s just one of many requests by school districts across the county to approve a total of $1.6 billion, Casteneda reports.

Interest rates are still low, and it’s cheap to borrow money right now, so a host of districts are putting a hand out to voters.

North County school districts looking to issue bonds include Fallbrook Union High School, requesting up to $45 million for building upgrades and repairs; Bonsall Unified School District, requesting $58 million for a new high school and repairs of existing facilities; Cardiff School District, requesting $22 million for facility upgrades and Solana Beach School District, seeking $105 million to replace and upgrade facilities.

Also in the News

 Someone installed a cross in a park in Carlsbad, and now the city says it must go. (Union-Tribune)

 Rep. Darrell Issa is more likely to vote along party lines than nearly 200 other members of Congress. (KPBS)

• Del Mar City Council candidates share a lot of views, but differ on establishing a police department, and creating a design review committee to review residential construction projects. (The Coast News)

 Escondido has resumed plans for a new library. (Union-Tribune)

 Oceanside’s neighborhood services director faces child molestation charges in San Bernardino County. (Union-Tribune)

 Oceanside’s Homeless Outreach Team shares its experiences with other police agencies in the county. (Union-Tribune)

 A ban on expanded polystyrene containers will come back to the Encinitas City Council. (The Coast News)

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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