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Joseph Manrique, a rancher in Harmony Grove, worries traffic from new development will make it hard for him and his horses to flee a fire. / Photo by Ry Rivard

Housing development projects like the Newland Sierra near San Marcos or Lilac Hills Ranch near Valley Center were already controversial. But the recent death and destruction wrought by the Camp Fire in Northern California has renew attention.

Ry Rivard reports that those projects would add thousands of new houses in fire-prone parts of San Diego County.

Developers have told the public not to worry. They’ve submitted fire protection plans to the county. And in some cases, they’ve argued that new homes could act as fire breaks that protect older homes nearby.

But nearby residents aren’t buying it. Putting hundreds more people on the road during an emergency without investments in road expansion is a recipe for disaster, they argue.

Several developments are planned on sites that have burned in the past. Not unusual, though, given that much of San Diego County east of the coast and west of the desert has burned over the past century.

FAQ: What’s Up With Balboa Park?

For a place as beloved as Balboa Park, the place sure does seem to confuse people.

As part of our People’s Reporter series, Lisa Halverstadt compiled some of the most common questions we hear about how the park operates, and its future.

For example, the San Diego Zoo receives a share of a property tax measure but those funds can’t be distributed more broadly around the park to fix a backlog of maintenance needs. “A city charter amendment – and another public vote – would be necessary to direct property taxes to the rest of Balboa Park,” Halverstadt writes.

We’ve also got answers to your questions about the future of the Museum of Man, zoo discounts for San Diego residents and more.

North County Councils Will Look Much Different

Democrats scored bigger wins in the last election than the initial results suggested. As the final ballots are counted, it’s clear that the next city councils in both Escondido and Carlsbad — bastions of conservatism — will be majority-Democrat.

The latest North County Report details that the election had a lot to do with immigration. Escondido Mayor Sam Abed’s visit to the White House in May galvanized activists and turned off moderate Republicans.

Paul McNamara, who is likely to become Escondido’s new mayor, is a registered Democrat but describes himself as a centrist. Decades ago, he could have easily run as a member of the GOP. He presented himself on the campaign trail as a source of civility and a skeptic of development.

“It’s not that these cities are shifting from being rabidly conservative to rabidly liberal,” said a UCSD political science professor. “It’s just that the center is this kind of smart-growth coalition.”

VOSD Podcast: The ‘San Diego Special’ Special Edition

In the latest podcast episode, hosts Scott Lewis, Sara Libby and Andrew Keatts discuss what exactly defines a “San Diego special” and unravel the issues that have politically paralyzed local leaders over the last couple of years.

VOSD’s Jesse Marx joined the crew to break down how a dispute over a legal marijuana dispensary took a dark turn.

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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