Jim Desmond was lobbied to change language of Measure A, emails and texts show
By J. HARRY JONESDEC. 17, 2019 2:17 PM
Backers of Measure A, the Save Our San Diego Countryside initiative that will be voted on in March, say a series of texts and emails obtained as part of a public records request show that Supervisor Jim Desmond was working with the building industry when he tried to change the ballot language at the last minute.
Measure A would require countywide votes for big developments in the unincorporated parts of the county that are not now zoned for them, something the building industry says would likely put an end to such projects. On Dec. 10, the Board of Supervisors had been scheduled to consider changing the ballot language of the measure just one day before the Registrar of Voters deadline. Desmond had placed the item on the agenda saying a change was needed to better inform voters. He also told at least two people that the language change was written by his staff. But texts and emails show that it was representatives with the Building Industry Association of San Diego County who approached Desmond, and lawyers for the No on A campaign, which is funded by the building and real estate industry, who not only asked for the item to be put on the agenda, but also crafted the wording which was very similar to what Desmond ended up proposing.
Op-Ed opposing County rezoning of 69-acre lot west of the landfill (sent to San Elijo Life by Friends of Copper Creek)
Urgent Appeal to Save San Elijo Hills Quality of Life:Deadline September 12!
A huge increase in zoning is currently being proposed that, if approved, will permanently change San Elijo Hills.The 69-acre property is just west of the closed San Marcos Landfill, south of San Elijo Road.This project is called SD15 in the County and Copper Hills in the City of San Marcos.
The developer could have named this project “Toxic Hills” as this land never produced copper and County reports document (1) on site signs of landfill leachate and/or landfill gas intrusion and (2) possible health risks to future residents and tenants.
This will change the community forever by
harming the character of the community;
dramatically increasing traffic;
impeding emergency evacuation and diverting fire resources; and
causing environmental harm to Copper Creek and neighboring habitat preserves.
Right now, this property is in the unincorporated County.An amendment to the County General Plan proposes increasing SD15’s maximum density almost six-fold from 61 dwelling units (SR-1 zoning) to 362 dwelling units plus a large amount of commercial space (C-1, SR-0.5, VR-10.9 zoning).
This project will be heard at a Board of Supervisors meeting on September 12 and will be approved unless San Elijo Hills and other neighbors vocally protest.While the San Dieguito Planning Group voted against this project, County staff and the Planning Commission are recommending approval.Nonetheless, this project can be stopped by our elected representatives if residents speak up.
If this property is rezoned, County studies report there will be an additional 16,231 average daily trips.That is approximately a 27-fold increase over the number of trips allowed under current zoning.This will negatively affect the quality of life.
Impedes Emergency Evacuation
Existing roads and connectors are already inadequate to provide a safe exit from San Elijo Hills.In the 2014 Cocos fire, there was traffic gridlock causing people to wait hour(s) to evacuate.The proposed residential and commercial density will make this problem much worse.
Diversion of Fire Resources
This property will primarily rely on the San Marcos Fire Department and will divert fire protection resources from San Elijo Hills.This property will be very difficult to defend on up to three sides from a fire.Because of the proposed density concentration, fire departments would likely prioritize this property over single family homes.
Harms to Copper Creek/Escondido Creek/San Elijo Lagoon
Copper Creek (leading to Escondido Creek and San Elijo Lagoon) is already suffering from siltation, sedimentation, scouring and flooding from projects such as this that did not adequately mitigate the impacts.The intensity of this proposed development/hardscape will only increase the harms to the Creek and property downstream.
This project is opposed by the Escondido Creek Conservancy.
This Project Is Harmful to Habitat, Including Nearby Preserved Lands
This property serves as an important connector/corridor from the County Core to the San Marcos habitat areas.Development of this property as proposed will fragment the habitat and decrease habitat connectivity between the County and San Marcos.Edge effects will harm neighboring habitats and fuel modification arrangements will cut into the habitat.Light and glare effects will affect neighboring preserves and decrease resident’s quality of life.
This project is opposed by neighboring land managers, including the Center for Natural Lands Management.
County Neighbors were Held to a Double Standard
Before the County’s 2020 General Plan Update, this property and its neighbors were all zoned 1 dwelling unit per 2 acres.As a result of General Plan 2020, this property was already doubled in density to 1 dwelling unit per 1 acre while its County neighbors lost their density and are now zoned 1 dwelling unit per 10 acres.That means this project will have 52.5 times the density of its County neighbors.This just isn’t fair!
There have long been concerns with the San Marcos landfill.The landfill is mostly unlined and took 18.75 million tons of material between 1979 and 1997.The landfill reportedly accepted residential, commercial and agricultural waste including paint and paint thinners, oil, treated sewage sludge and medical waste.No laws prevented “certain types of low level radioactive waste, known as decommissioned materials” from disposal in the San Marcos Landfill.
A 2017 letter from the County about SD15 states, “While the San Marcos Landfill has closed, it can be expected to remain biologically active and generate landfill gas and leachate for more than 30-50 years after closure.”Monitoring may need to continue forever.
The County writes that “Landfill gas represents a health and safety issue” and gas can “migrate off-site.”Landfill gases “can pose an explosion and human health threat.”
SD15’s onsite groundwater monitoring wells are detecting toxic chemicals of concern (“COCs”).According to the County, there are two likely sources: landfill leachate and landfill gases. Per County documents, “[t]he source of COCs outside the waste area is likely due to migration of [landfill gas] and, to a lesser degree, leachate.”County letters concerning SD15 state that “Landfill gas has been documented to travel in the subsurface 1,000 feet or more from the source.The underlying geology of [SD15] is fractured rock, which adds another layer of complexity to potential gas migration.”
County maps show that most of the groundwater from the landfill flows towards the west, towards SD15/Copper Hills.
News articles report that the San Marcos landfill “is leaching chemicals known to cause cancer, reproductive harm and other health problems.”It continues, “officials said that because these chemicals don’t occur naturally, any leak exceeds standards set for those sites” and “[a]ny volatile (organic compound) that’s detected in groundwater is an indication of release from the landfills” (emphasis added).
Unfortunately, the County has limited ability to protect residents/tenants from landfill gases and landfill gases.The County has stated that the Solid Waste Local Enforcement Agency “has no regulatory authority to require [this] Project to be constructed with measures to mitigate the effects of the landfill” (emphasis added).
The County has only the power to request Department of Environmental Health monitoring of residents, resident notification of landfill proximity, and installation of landfill gas mitigation measures such as explosion-proof conduits/sealing, use of a gas migration barrier with passive venting and hard-wired methane detectors.Will this developer follow the County’s requests?
In 1999, eighty acres of San Elijo Hills was condemned by the County as a landfill buffer.News reports state the condemned land was located 1000 feet to 1.5 miles away from the landfill.SD15/Copper Hills is within 1000 feet of the landfill.
This property should not be aggressively developed and this project should be stopped.
Doesn’t this project include a Boys and Girls Club?
As the property is currently zoned for 61 homes only, with no commercial zoning, it is highly unlikely that there is any definite plan for any specific commercial tenant. I have seen real estate developers frequently make big promises to push through their projects.Often these promises are not kept and communities disappointed.
Real Estate Speculators Should Not Benefit at the Expense of Neighbors
This property was purchased by the developer, Steven A. Bieri, for only $48,755 per acre.That price reflects that this land is not suitable for intensive development.Now, these real estate speculators want to benefit themselves at the expense of the San Elijo Hills, Harmony Grove and Elfin Forest communities.
We can build a better world for our families and children by speaking up because every voice matters in local politics.The more public input, using different communications methods, the greater the likelihood that we can preserve the community:
Oppose this in person at the Board of Supervisors Meeting on September 12, 2018 at County Administration Center (CAC), Room 310 (Board Chambers), 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego;
The first three of seven large housing developments proposed to be built in various parts of unincorporated San Diego County will go before the Board of Supervisors Wednesday for approval.Two are controversial; both are planned for the Harmony Grove/Elfin Forest areas just west of Escondido and south and east of San Marcos in a semi-rural pocket of the county surrounded by urban dedevelopment.The third is a much larger project in Otay Mesa that has limited opposition and has flown through the planning process.It is the North County projects that have nearby residents and environmental groups up in arms.The Harmony Grove Village South and Valiano projects combined would bring 779 homes to the region. When the local community planning groups evaluated both projects, they unanimously voted to recommend denial, citing traffic, fire danger and community character issues, among others concerns.
Subject: The County of San Diego’s SD15 Property Specific Request (also known as Copper Hills in San Marcos) proposes up to 362 dwellings and 138,000of commercial space on San Elijo Road (next to old landfill) will be on the Planning Commission agenda for a Public Hearing. This is the last step before it heads to the Board of Supervisors for approval
When: This Friday, June 22 at 9am.
Important details: This is part of a larger County-initiated GPA called Property Specific Requests. There will be 43 PSRs presented to the Commissioners on Friday. Some will be quick and others will be more extensive. The Planning Commission requires that people fill out a speaker slip before 9am. SD15 will not be heard until later in the day, but you will still need to fill out a speaker slip (you can leave and come back later). Read the Notice of Public Hearing for more detail.
Location: County Planning Commission Conference Center, 5520 Overland Avenue, San Diego 92123
What will happen: The County Staff will present their findings and recommendation to the Planning Commission who will then vote to recommend for or against recommending approval. This is part of the County of San Diego’s process since the property is in the unincorporated County. It then goes the Board of Supervisors later this year.
Why should I attend? The County is specifically asking to hear from residents who might be affected by the project. Community input is important in projects like this, so the more attend the better. Public testimony can make a difference in approving or denying projects like this.
What if I can’t? Live bodies are always best and it is always important to do your civic duty to participate in the process even if it only once in a while… but, if you cannot attend, please make sure to email your comments to the County Planner, Kevin Johnston at the contact info below (and please cc the Town Council firstname.lastname@example.org).
Mayor Jim Desmond has been cleared of wrongdoing after an independent investigation found no “probable cause” to validate claims he violated campaign finance laws concerning his bid for the District 5 seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.The complaint was filed on May 29 by Realtor Ana Rosvall, among others, who claimed Desmond violated the city’s municipal code (2.16.010), which prohibits votes within 12 months of receiving a donation or receiving donations within 12 months of a vote. Rosavall’s complaint alleged Desmond accepted campaign donations from several sources prior to votes on development projects in the city.“Unfortunately, it was a last-minute campaign hit,” Desmond said. “An independent Elections Council was able to determine very quickly that there was no wrongdoing and I’ve been cleared of all allegations. So, we’re going to continue full speed ahead with the campaign.”Desmond, a republican, is running against Oceanside City Councilman Jerry Kern, also a republican, and Democrats Jacqueline Arsivaud and Michelle Gomez. Many consider Desmond the frontrunner for the June 5 primary. On June 2, Desmond continued his campaign by reaching out to voters.“We are phone calling, we’ve got several people walking precincts,” Desmond said. “We’re making sure people are going to get out and vote.”A letter to Desmond from investigators dated June 1 confirmed he did not violate any ordinances. The independent Elections Council verified what Desmond and his campaign believed since the complaint was filed. John Hoy, Desmond’s campaign consultant, said on May 31 the municipal code in question does not apply to elections outside the city. The code, he added, only applies to candidates running for election in a city race, and not any other jurisdiction.Also, Hoy said Desmond’s attorney, who is also his campaign director, did not send a formal letter to the Elections Council or have any contact with investigators.“Our position is it just simple doesn’t apply to him,” he said on May 29. “That’s a City of San Marcos ordinance drafted to regulate elections in San Marcos. He’s running in the county of San Diego for supervisor under the rules of the County of San Diego. This ordinance is just not applicable in this situation.”A letter from the law firm, states the alleged violations in question are not covered in the municipal code, are barred by the statute of limitations or will be by next Tuesday (June 5) and no sufficient facts to “demonstrate probable cause.” In addition, the letter states the amount of campaign contributions apply only to municipal elections, which has been the position of Desmond and Hoy since May 29.The complaint alleged Farouk Kubba of Vista San Marcos LLC donated $800 to Desmond’s campaign on June 6, 2017, and Desmond voted for the controversial San Marcos Highlands project on Nov. 15, 2017. In addition, $650 was donated to Desmond by David Hammer and Eric Armstrong, who worked on the Brookfield project.“I’m pretty disappointed,” Rosvall said of the investigation. “I feel that these laws should be applied to all elections. It seems like no matter what you do, they’re one step ahead of you.”