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Under the original General Plan 2020 maps — known as the Alternative III maps and drawn by the planning group leaders on the Steering Committee — future land-use and zoning decisions would have been made using population density. Rules regarding future development would have been stricter and less open to the individual discretion of the supervisors.

However, on January 10, 2001, the board of supervisors rejected Alternative III. The board then created a new advisory body, titled the Interest Group Committee. This was a selected group of developer and environmental leaders who met monthly to craft new zoning maps and land-use goals for the region.

But in the nine years since the Interest Group Committee was created, no plan has been brought to the supervisors for approval. This has further fueled critics’ charges that no plan will be in place until major projects, including Merriam Mountains, are approved.

“The Board has been dragging its feet on General Plan 2020 so projects could get approved and into the pipeline,” noted former San Diego Planning Commissioner David Kreitzer. “[Supervisor Ron] Roberts said the original zoning proposed under the Alternative III maps was unacceptable. They were afraid of lawsuits by property rights groups.”

Youde bluntly told Shibley and the property owners on November 14, 2000, of the estimated costs involved in putting pressure on the supervisors and county staff.

“Stonegate is presently paying the political consultants and land use attorney fees to protect you from the effects of Plan 2020. In addition to processing a project under the existing General Plan, Stonegate has submitted a letter on behalf of each of you requesting suitable density in the event Plan 2020 is successful,” wrote Youde, who placed the costs of their efforts at close to $200,000 at that time.

After Stonegate’s efforts proved successful, Youde dispatched another memo.

“PLAN 2020 DERAILED!!” begins the February 28, 2001 memo. “Due to the concerted effort of David Shibley of the SOLV [Save Our Land Values] GROUP and hundreds of angry landowners, the Board of Supervisors squelched Alternative III of the General Plan 2020 update,” wrote Youde. “It is well known at the Planning Department that it was our initial submittal to Planning that unearthed Plan 2020 and we sounded the alarm that led to the organization to oppose Plan 2020…[now] we are able to sell [our] plan directly to the Supervisors on a one-to-one basis and insure political support.…”

Youde felt confident Stonegate’s efforts were beginning to show results. Two months before the board of supervisors eliminated the Alternative III maps and formed the Interest Group Committee, Youde applauded Save Our Land Values for its work. He even asked the property owners to send money to Save Our Land Values.

Save Our Land Values was not the only entity Youde suggested the developers assist in their attempt to delay the General Plan 2020 process. The supervisors themselves were also described as beneficiaries of Stonegate’s political efforts, specifically North County supervisor Bill Horn, who represents the area that includes Merriam Mountains.

“Support Bill Horn! Without Supervisor Bill Horn and his strong advocacy of property rights, we would have no chance at all. Mr. Horn has announced his intention to run for re-election to the Board of Supervisors and expects a challenge from the environmentalist lobby. We are including a campaign contribution envelope for your use. We are supporting Mr. Horn to the maximum extent permitted under the law,” wrote Youde in his February 28, 2001 memo.

Three months later on June 1, 2001, Youde wrote to the property owners that Stonegate had organized “two tables of supporters” at Horn’s May 22 reelection campaign fund-raiser.

“The fundraiser was very successful and raised over $200,000,” said Youde. “That gives Supervisor Horn a substantial war chest and dissuades challengers from attempting to unseat him.”

In the aftermath of the defeat of the Alternative III maps, Save Our Land Values earned a seat at the table of the Interest Group Committee. Shibley has actively participated in the committee’s meetings since then.

Former San Diego Sierra Club president Eric Bowlby served on the Interest Group Committee for four years. Bowlby said the central problem with the makeup of the committee was that development and real estate consultants serving on the committee were also representing projects seeking approval.

“The conflict of interest was acute, and there was no denial of the conflict of interest,” says Bowlby. “There were consultants working on their own specific projects and shaping the new maps to accommodate those projects.”

The Merriam Mountains development project still requires formal approval by the board of supervisors. But as early as August 2001, Youde felt confident the board would support it.

Youde wrote to Shibley on August 23, 2001, “In this process we expect to be turned down at all local levels and ultimately approved by the Board of Supervisors.”

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Comments

HonestGovernment Dec. 2, 2009 @ 2:53 p.m.

Thank you for your carefully outlined history of the County Plan Update. We should all pay close attention to further developments. The next meeting is on December 4 2009. The County Plan Update website is http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dplu/gpupdate/index.html From their website: "The Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU) will hold an additional public hearing on the General Plan Update on December 4, 2009. This hearing is a continuation of the General Plan Update hearings held on November 6, 19, and 20. The Planning Commission will complete discussions on Valley Center and testimony will be taken on the following remaining communities: Rainbow, San Dieguito, Otay, Julian, and Pendleton DeLuz."

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HonestGovernment Dec. 3, 2009 @ 8:29 a.m.

One more thought: the city-wide community plan updates are just starting a several-years-long process of revamping what will or will not be done in local areas of the city, in the coming decades.

The advisory committee members have probably all been chosen, though there may still be a chance to get on your area committee, if anyone has dropped out or not enough people applied.

You can check http://www.sandiego.gov/planning/community/ for your community.

Of concern are the number of committee members already announced and selected who are developers and realtors. Why? Because of the following sentence, quoted from the City's objectives in the updating of the plans:

"The recent update to the General Plan shifts focus from how to develop vacant land to how to design infill development and reinvest in existing communities."

Key word in older neighborhoods ringing downtown: INFILL.

If you live in South Park, for example, please pay attention. If you don't want to see your locally owned grocery store with plenty of free parking disappear, you'll have to object when the Plan Update developer members start proposing infill to replace local cottages and shops. Because that is what INFILL is.

Instead of a local grocery and ample parking lot, you'll get a "mixed-use" building with as many tiny condos or apartments as can be packed into a multistory unit, right up to the curb, and a token "upscale gourmet" shop with high-priced items to sell to the captives living above the shop. Oh, and metered street parking.

Here are a few more quotes, from a D.R. Horton/American National Investments publication about infill objectives: http://coib.govoffice2.com/vertical/Sites/%7B6283CA4C-E2BD-4DFA-A7F7-8D4ECD543E0F%7D/uploads/%7B1B48A9FF-C035-4E5D-8B18-8418BA4025A7%7D.PDF

"Extend day into night - develop a place that does not become vacant when the sun goes down." "Project residents create the captive market needed for quality retailers."

If you want to retain a quiet residential neighborhood that DOES get quiet at night, and has real, affordable amenities, stay tuned.

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HonestGovernment Dec. 4, 2009 @ 9:59 a.m.

The above link to the D.R. Horton/American National Investments publication doesn't work. Try this: http://tiny.cc/0aw7V

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Viking13 Dec. 6, 2009 @ 11:37 a.m.

The E.A. Barrera article, "Play the Sneaky Developer Game," represents another stage in what might be the most corrupt County of San Diego administration. This is the cauldron which spawned Bill Horn's candidacy. Back in the 1980s, the Board of Supervisors approved the Hidden Meadows Project and placed a huge oak forest in an "open space lot" to mitigate the impact of housing. Then another developer bought the lot and planned his own housing subdivision that would mow down the oak forest. When told he would need to prepare an Environmental Impact Report, he bought the Valley Center Roadrunner and began a campaign of propaganda stories trashing the Department of Planning and Land Use and advocating electing a property rights supervisor. His cohorts found Bill Horn in the Valley Center Community Planning Group and sponsored his run at the north county seat. Once elected, Horn hired the developer's crew on his staff and they circulated a list of planning department employees they wanted fired. When County Counsel advised this illegal, they then stripped the budget and eliminated 80% of the department staff, but failed to eliminate the man who directed the EIR. But this is the historic context in which Gary Pryor re-shaped the deparment to respond to powerful land developers and their lobbyists. Merriam Mountains and GP 2020 are just links in the chain. Viking 13

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