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Bill Horn and the life east of the 15

County supervisor advised to recuse himself from development vote

Would Bill Horn benefit from the massive Lilac Hills Ranch development?
Would Bill Horn benefit from the massive Lilac Hills Ranch development?

An environmental nonprofit has put San Diego County supervisor Bill Horn and his colleagues on the board on notice: follow the advice of the Fair Political Practices Commission and don't permit Horn's vote to weigh in on the massive Lilac Hills Ranch development slated for Valley Center, just over a mile from Horn's 37-acre ranch.

Bill Horn

The proposed Lilac Hills Ranch development includes construction of 1746 homes and 90,000 square feet of retail on approximately 600 acres of land just east of Interstate 15 near West Lilac Road in Valley Center. If approved, the development would be the largest and most dense mixed-use development within miles. According to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, current zoning laws allow for only 110 homes on the 600-acre plot.

Environmental groups and others have blasted the proposal, whereas Horn supports the development.

Conflict of interest?

At issue is whether Horn has a potential conflict of interest in voting for the project. Improvements to nearby infrastructure and the potential for future development would most likely raise property values for nearby landowners, Horn included.

On October 13, after the Fair Political Practices Commission advised there was a potential conflict of interest, Horn issued a statement announcing that he was recusing himself from voting on Lilac Hills.

Horn quickly backtracked. In public statements made in the following days, the North County supervisor attacked the commission for intruding on democracy and silencing his constituents by preventing him from voting on the development. He called the letter a "clear case of overreach."

Horn claims that he has nothing to gain from the development. He has said his land is not suitable for development; besides, he entered into a contract with the state under the the California Land Conservation Act of 1965, also known as the Williamson Act, which prevents him from developing any portion of his property in exchange for breaks on property taxes.

Cleveland National Forest Foundation on alert

Horn's decision to fight the commission's advice has raised questions from the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, a nonprofit environmental preservation group.

In an October 19 letter, the group demanded that Horn and his colleagues take heed of the commission's advice, or else be in jeopardy of legal action.

"There is no reason for Supervisor Horn or the County to be alarmed at the [Fair Political Practices Commission's] advice, which provides a narrow, fact-based analysis of Supervisor Horn’s particular situation in this instance. The [commission] nowhere implies that other Supervisors in other situations will also have to recuse themselves in decisions involving smaller developments, or developments in more built-up areas. Likewise, the situation might be different if a Supervisor merely owned a home nearby a proposed development, and did not own developable land, as Supervisor Horn does. In any event, Supervisors concerned about potential conflicts in the future may always seek the [commission's] advice, as Supervisor Horn did here."

As for Horn's agreement to not develop the land, attorneys for the Cleveland National Forest Foundation say that the contract will likely expire before the development is complete, and Horn could cash in later.

"Supervisor Horn claims that the Lilac Hills Ranch project cannot increase the value of his property because it is currently under a Williamson Act contract and contains many steep, allegedly undevelopable slopes. While it is true that his land is currently protected by a Williamson Act contract, the [commission] has already described why this fact is not relevant. Specifically, such contracts are subject to termination, which would allow Supervisor Horn or successors in interest to develop the property.

"...[T]here is no basis for Supervisor Horn to ask the [commission] to reconsider its advice that he has a disqualifying conflict of interest with regard to the Lilac Hills Ranch development. But if Supervisor Horn requests new advice, it is imperative that he present accurate and complete information to the [Fair Political Practices Commission] regarding the development potential of his property. His failure to do so would undermine public trust, subvert our democratic system, and expose himself and the County to liability."

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Comments
7

For those who don't follow the story of this supervisor, it might be worth knowing that his Valley Center neighbors don't vote for Bulldozer Bill. So, where does he get his votes? The flatlanders in cities such as Vista, San Marcos, Oceanside and unincorporated areas down near the coast seem to like him. As to why so many like him is a mystery to many of us. Oh, he passes out money, and that carries plenty of clout. He also brags of having been a "combat Marine" in Vietnam, and that is a sort of boast that doesn't resonate with many other former and/or retired Marines.

At every turn, Bill-O has supported anything put forth by developers. He was the big, big booster of the Merriam Mountain development, which the board rejected. A hard look at the details of that fiasco would have turned anyone off to it.

Some details of this proposal have much in common with that plan. The most significant part is the total reliance on cars to get to and from one's home. Access is by roads that are far from bus lines, and retail is miles away from most homes. Buy a home there, and you have to drive to everything/everywhere. Then there is the matter of terrain. That area is rugged, with canyons, steep hillsides, and just about no level terrain. But never fear, the builders will turn their bulldozers loose and remake and re-contour all the place, and have hundreds of nice flat building pads in the (formerly) brushy country.

Just what those hills and mountains need, isn't it?

Oct. 21, 2015

Why is it that "his neighbors didn't vote for him" is relevant when we're talking about a Republican; but if I say I didn't vote for a Democrat, it's always "Well, you aren't the only voice! You have to compromise! The people have spoken!"?

Oct. 22, 2015

your humble corporal snark can personally attest that captain bill was one hell of a combat marine in the dead marine zone. his boast does resonate with every one of us marines who served with him; however his ptsd-afflicted conduct is the issue at hand; on point; he must stand down.

Oct. 29, 2015

Do you have a link to the information from which you gathered that Horn's VC neighbors didn't vote for him? How do you know this?

Bill Horn is and has always been a proponent of property rights, not "anything put forward by developers" as you so charmingly put it.

Everyone in VC relies on a car to get to anywhere - LHR actually has walkability within it's development, with trails and shops and schools. It is less than a mile from a freeway, with access to more (and closer) mass transit than VC has. It allows multi-generational living, something I, and many of my contemporaries are increasingly looking for. It's FAR more easily accessible for a commute than a downtown VC address. the majority of it is NOT in VC zip code, but in Escondido and Bonsall zips, with a fairly large percentage in the VC planning area for some reason.

This supervisor is why VC has any road improvements at all. He's why there's a High School, and a library - and the walk path. Seriously, think for a minute about what other supervisor would care about backwoods VC and work for more than a photo-op minute to help us with anything? He isn't perfect, what politician is? But he's hardly the monster you paint. Do your research before you impugn someone's honor.

Dec. 29, 2015

If every San Diego politician with a vested financial interest in a particular vote recused himself/herself, government would come to a standstill. Bill Horn is being singled out as one among many.

Oct. 22, 2015

Maybe that indicates that San Diego politicians should not be that involved in vested financial situations that they themselves vote on. Shouldn't we have at least a semblance of reasonable and decent government?

Dec. 29, 2015

I will attest to the part where his land is pretty steep. But I also think he has something to gain from this development. This development doesn't make sense... the biggest thing that most of us in his neighborhood can't get past... is why would the county spend 15 years coming up with a plan for rural growth, and then discard that plan with the first development to come before them that goes against it? (look up the general plan 2020) This development goes against the general plan in every way, and is exactly opposite of the intentions of what the county laid out as being in the best interest of our county. If a private land owner wanted to develop their 10 acres against this plan, they couldn't. So why should this developer? Drive there sometime... and see what they are developing. IT will change the area drastically. It's wrong. And it smells of corruption.

Dec. 24, 2015

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Would Bill Horn benefit from the massive Lilac Hills Ranch development?
Would Bill Horn benefit from the massive Lilac Hills Ranch development?

An environmental nonprofit has put San Diego County supervisor Bill Horn and his colleagues on the board on notice: follow the advice of the Fair Political Practices Commission and don't permit Horn's vote to weigh in on the massive Lilac Hills Ranch development slated for Valley Center, just over a mile from Horn's 37-acre ranch.

Bill Horn

The proposed Lilac Hills Ranch development includes construction of 1746 homes and 90,000 square feet of retail on approximately 600 acres of land just east of Interstate 15 near West Lilac Road in Valley Center. If approved, the development would be the largest and most dense mixed-use development within miles. According to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, current zoning laws allow for only 110 homes on the 600-acre plot.

Environmental groups and others have blasted the proposal, whereas Horn supports the development.

Conflict of interest?

At issue is whether Horn has a potential conflict of interest in voting for the project. Improvements to nearby infrastructure and the potential for future development would most likely raise property values for nearby landowners, Horn included.

On October 13, after the Fair Political Practices Commission advised there was a potential conflict of interest, Horn issued a statement announcing that he was recusing himself from voting on Lilac Hills.

Horn quickly backtracked. In public statements made in the following days, the North County supervisor attacked the commission for intruding on democracy and silencing his constituents by preventing him from voting on the development. He called the letter a "clear case of overreach."

Horn claims that he has nothing to gain from the development. He has said his land is not suitable for development; besides, he entered into a contract with the state under the the California Land Conservation Act of 1965, also known as the Williamson Act, which prevents him from developing any portion of his property in exchange for breaks on property taxes.

Cleveland National Forest Foundation on alert

Horn's decision to fight the commission's advice has raised questions from the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, a nonprofit environmental preservation group.

In an October 19 letter, the group demanded that Horn and his colleagues take heed of the commission's advice, or else be in jeopardy of legal action.

"There is no reason for Supervisor Horn or the County to be alarmed at the [Fair Political Practices Commission's] advice, which provides a narrow, fact-based analysis of Supervisor Horn’s particular situation in this instance. The [commission] nowhere implies that other Supervisors in other situations will also have to recuse themselves in decisions involving smaller developments, or developments in more built-up areas. Likewise, the situation might be different if a Supervisor merely owned a home nearby a proposed development, and did not own developable land, as Supervisor Horn does. In any event, Supervisors concerned about potential conflicts in the future may always seek the [commission's] advice, as Supervisor Horn did here."

As for Horn's agreement to not develop the land, attorneys for the Cleveland National Forest Foundation say that the contract will likely expire before the development is complete, and Horn could cash in later.

"Supervisor Horn claims that the Lilac Hills Ranch project cannot increase the value of his property because it is currently under a Williamson Act contract and contains many steep, allegedly undevelopable slopes. While it is true that his land is currently protected by a Williamson Act contract, the [commission] has already described why this fact is not relevant. Specifically, such contracts are subject to termination, which would allow Supervisor Horn or successors in interest to develop the property.

"...[T]here is no basis for Supervisor Horn to ask the [commission] to reconsider its advice that he has a disqualifying conflict of interest with regard to the Lilac Hills Ranch development. But if Supervisor Horn requests new advice, it is imperative that he present accurate and complete information to the [Fair Political Practices Commission] regarding the development potential of his property. His failure to do so would undermine public trust, subvert our democratic system, and expose himself and the County to liability."

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Comments
7

For those who don't follow the story of this supervisor, it might be worth knowing that his Valley Center neighbors don't vote for Bulldozer Bill. So, where does he get his votes? The flatlanders in cities such as Vista, San Marcos, Oceanside and unincorporated areas down near the coast seem to like him. As to why so many like him is a mystery to many of us. Oh, he passes out money, and that carries plenty of clout. He also brags of having been a "combat Marine" in Vietnam, and that is a sort of boast that doesn't resonate with many other former and/or retired Marines.

At every turn, Bill-O has supported anything put forth by developers. He was the big, big booster of the Merriam Mountain development, which the board rejected. A hard look at the details of that fiasco would have turned anyone off to it.

Some details of this proposal have much in common with that plan. The most significant part is the total reliance on cars to get to and from one's home. Access is by roads that are far from bus lines, and retail is miles away from most homes. Buy a home there, and you have to drive to everything/everywhere. Then there is the matter of terrain. That area is rugged, with canyons, steep hillsides, and just about no level terrain. But never fear, the builders will turn their bulldozers loose and remake and re-contour all the place, and have hundreds of nice flat building pads in the (formerly) brushy country.

Just what those hills and mountains need, isn't it?

Oct. 21, 2015

Why is it that "his neighbors didn't vote for him" is relevant when we're talking about a Republican; but if I say I didn't vote for a Democrat, it's always "Well, you aren't the only voice! You have to compromise! The people have spoken!"?

Oct. 22, 2015

your humble corporal snark can personally attest that captain bill was one hell of a combat marine in the dead marine zone. his boast does resonate with every one of us marines who served with him; however his ptsd-afflicted conduct is the issue at hand; on point; he must stand down.

Oct. 29, 2015

Do you have a link to the information from which you gathered that Horn's VC neighbors didn't vote for him? How do you know this?

Bill Horn is and has always been a proponent of property rights, not "anything put forward by developers" as you so charmingly put it.

Everyone in VC relies on a car to get to anywhere - LHR actually has walkability within it's development, with trails and shops and schools. It is less than a mile from a freeway, with access to more (and closer) mass transit than VC has. It allows multi-generational living, something I, and many of my contemporaries are increasingly looking for. It's FAR more easily accessible for a commute than a downtown VC address. the majority of it is NOT in VC zip code, but in Escondido and Bonsall zips, with a fairly large percentage in the VC planning area for some reason.

This supervisor is why VC has any road improvements at all. He's why there's a High School, and a library - and the walk path. Seriously, think for a minute about what other supervisor would care about backwoods VC and work for more than a photo-op minute to help us with anything? He isn't perfect, what politician is? But he's hardly the monster you paint. Do your research before you impugn someone's honor.

Dec. 29, 2015

If every San Diego politician with a vested financial interest in a particular vote recused himself/herself, government would come to a standstill. Bill Horn is being singled out as one among many.

Oct. 22, 2015

Maybe that indicates that San Diego politicians should not be that involved in vested financial situations that they themselves vote on. Shouldn't we have at least a semblance of reasonable and decent government?

Dec. 29, 2015

I will attest to the part where his land is pretty steep. But I also think he has something to gain from this development. This development doesn't make sense... the biggest thing that most of us in his neighborhood can't get past... is why would the county spend 15 years coming up with a plan for rural growth, and then discard that plan with the first development to come before them that goes against it? (look up the general plan 2020) This development goes against the general plan in every way, and is exactly opposite of the intentions of what the county laid out as being in the best interest of our county. If a private land owner wanted to develop their 10 acres against this plan, they couldn't. So why should this developer? Drive there sometime... and see what they are developing. IT will change the area drastically. It's wrong. And it smells of corruption.

Dec. 24, 2015

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